A peek into the soul of Arse­nal

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts&entertainment -

Oclub, with Kevin Whitcher (Vi­sion Sports £16.99), the club’s man­ager Arsène Wenger (who gives the ti­tle its e-grave ac­cent) is quoted, say­ing: “Alex Fynn is a foot­ball guru, and I’m al­ways in­ter­ested in what he has to say.”

Fynn has writ­ten a num­ber of as­tute books about the busi­ness and mar­ket­ing of foot­ball, which as one of the in­sti­ga­tors of the FA Premier League and a for­mer di­rec­tor of Saatchi and Saatchi, he is well qual­i­fied to do. How­ever, he also has a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with Arse­nal’s for­mer vice-chair­man, and has spent much time with Wenger. So is he too close to his sub­ject to ask the tricky ques­tions?

The an­swer is a re­sound­ing no. The book painstak­ingly re­lates the story of a foot­ball club fa­mous for mar­ble halls and func­tional foot­ball, which, thanks to the in­put of Wenger, and other im­por­tant Arse­nal fig­ures in­clud­ing Jews David Dein (the afore­men­tioned exvice-chair­man) and cur­rent direc­tors, Danny Fisz­man and Keith Edel­man, has un­der­gone a star­tling trans­for­ma­tion.

But there have been prob­lems, which Fynn read­ily high­lights. Has Wenger’s rigid­ity ac­tu­ally held back Arse­nal on the pitch? Has the move to The Emi­rates Sta­dium, and the court­ing of the spon­sor and of the cor­po­rate mar­ket, sucked the soul from the club?

For all the wheeler-deal­ing, the im­pres­sion is of a club still run by peo­ple who care deeply about it — re­as­sur­ing in an age of bil­lion­aire own­ers. The book, of pri­mary in­ter­est to Arse­nal fans, of­fers fas­ci­nat­ing in­sights into how mod­ern foot­ball re­ally works. SI­MON ROUND N THE COVER of Alex Fynn’s lat­est anatomy of Arse­nal Foot­ball Club, Arsè­nal: The Mak­ing of a Mod­ern Su­per-

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