The long-awaited account of the 22-year reign of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal – “My Life in Red and White” will be published in October and will no doubt fly off the bookshelves in thousands as fans go in search of the secrets behind the Emirates closed doors.
Before you order yours, be warned that these books tend to sound more exciting than they actually are and rarely dish the dirt to meet our expectations. Arsene Wenger by definition, isn’t the ‘kiss and tell’ type and even with the taste of a bitter experience still on the tip of his tongue, he’s unlikely to be disrespectful to his former players or employers.
Let’s look at what we are likely to get, the publisher’s promotional statement and then what we want to see, in other words, the juicy bits.
Well, there will be the opening blurb ( no disrespect ) on his club and managerial career leading up to his Arsenal appointment. No doubt, there will be mention of the club’s notorious lack of discipline when he arrived and reference to the pie, chips and pint culture.
I fully expect a lengthy piece on the former co-owner and vice-chairman David Dein, which will be generally acknowledged as a key part of the club’s success under Arsene Wenger. It will explore their relationship, personally and professionally, their mutual love of the game and their desire to redefine Arsenal’s dreadful reputation as 1-0 specialists, which wasn’t entirely deserved.
There may be some detail on players that the club missed out on, Wenger’s distrust and mild disliking of agents and occasional fractures in the dressing room. There will be a lengthy piece on ‘The Invincible’s’ which will be the cornerstone of the book as one of Wenger’s finest achievements.
I also expect to see an account of the heartache of Arsenal’s clumsy 2-1 loss to Barcelona in 2005/06. Had they won that, perhaps Wenger could have pushed on, but his team fell apart and was dismantled in the years that followed. It was the beginning of a horrible period for Arsenal that would see them gradually lose their status as one of the top clubs in the Premier League.
Finally, there will be mention of the protests and ‘Wenger out’ campaign, which cut deeply into the heart of football’s most devoted servant. There will also be an account of the Frenchman’s departure from the North London club. It was a sad and painful end to the great man’s tenure.
The promotional statement from Weidenfeld and Nicolson says rather excitedly:
“Wenger opens up about his life, sharing principles for success on and off the field with lessons on leadership, personal development, and management. This book charts his extraordinary career, including his rise from obscurity in France and Japan to his 22 years at the helm of Arsenal Football Club.”
“It covers the years of controversy that led up to his resignation in 2018 and his current seat as chief of global football development for Fifa.”
“Wenger offers studious reflections on the game and his groundbreaking approach to motivation, mindset, fitness, and the winning edge.”
So, it’s the usual dull as dishwater account, apart from the odd nugget here and there but what do we really want the book to reveal?
Firstly, details of how David Dein’s departure impacted on Wenger and the club, not just a sentence that includes the word ‘disappointment’. This was a significant point of Wenger’s Arsenal career and many point to Dein’s departure as the catalyst for the club’s demise. That and the arrival of a certain Stan Kroenke.
David Dein was the man responsible for the signature of Dennis Bergkamp and recruiting players such as Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira, Manny Petit, Marc Overmars, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell, Cesc Fabregas, and Robin Van Persie. He also snatched Ian Wright from Crystal Palace in 1991 before Wenger’s arrival.
The Wenger/Dein partnership and that’s exactly what it was, gave Arsenal the most successful period in their history and announced the club as an exciting football force on a global scale. Don’t tell me that Wenger didn’t suffer as a consequence of Dein’s dismissal or that the transfer policy remained the same.
On that note, I’d personally like to know more details of how the club’s move to the Emirates dented Arsenal’s ability to compete in the transfer market and Premier League and if Wenger had control or was instructed to buy cheap alternatives or not spend at all.
There’s been so much made of the ‘wilderness years’ (2005-2018), a period that has been attributed solely to Arsene Wenger, which always seemed unfair. Then there’s the club’s inability to retain players, sign suitable replacements and its sizeable appetite for selling off its prized assets.
I’d also like to hear how difficult certain players were ( Anelka and Sanchez in particular ) but most of all, I’d love to get the breakdown of Wenger’s relationship with owner Stan Kroenke and above all, the parasitic Ivan Gazidis.
It’s been said many times that the relationship between former manager and former CEO was strained, even toxic and that it had reached the point where any conversation was painful. Many fans have always maintained that Gazidis was never an Arsenal man and that he was only in the job for the money. Shocker! But let’s hear it in French or English.
Ivan Gazidis was simply too busy trying to be the next David Dein at Arsenal, but he failed miserably because of an inbuilt lack of passion for football and the club. He was used beautifully by Kroenke to get rid of Wenger and then was dispatched himself. Let’s hear more about this!
Then in his final years, the constant changes within the management structure including Sven Mislintat and the search for a technical director of football. Arsene Wenger must have been appalled but surely realised that this was another Gazidis attempt to undermine his already fragile position.
Arsene Wenger will certainly recall his rivalry with Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United side and give his version of events on the time when he was sent to the stands at Old Trafford (2009) and the infamous ‘Battle of the Buffet/Pizzagate’ incident (2014) which no one ever tires of.
These are all just wishes of course and, likely, there won’t be any major revelations or conversation pieces because Wenger is an honourable man with an immense sense of dignity and propriety. Shame!
I think as fans, we need our suspicions confirmed but any such revelations are likely to cause more instability and unrest, with Stan Kroenke likely to be the main recipient of fan anger.
It’s said that the American is ready to plough money into the club, but let’s wait and see. Stan has notorious long pockets and incredibly short arms when it comes to the UK based branch of his sports empire. Perhaps, he missed his golden opportunity, when he could have supported Wenger long before the wheels came off.
Perhaps, it was Gazidis who should have gone rather than the legendary manager or perhaps, he should have just quietly sold out to Alisher Usmanov.