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My Life in Red and White: The Sunday Times Number One Bestselling Autobiography

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The next game-changer is neuroscience. Why? Because we are at the end of the improvement of physical speed. The next step will be to improve the speed of decision-making. The speed of execution, the speed of coordination and that’s where neuroscience will come in. In the last 10 years, the power and speed of individual players has improved, but now you have sprinters everywhere. The next step certainly will be to improve the speed of our brains. You received a lot of criticism over your career, more so towards the end of your time with Arsenal. Was there any that particularly affected you?

In the years following they would holiday on Dein’s boat, and the Arsenal board member would watch Monaco’s matches in France. After some time in Japan, the invite to manage Arsenal arrived. He loved Real Madrid as a youngster I did enjoy it, and there were times (especially at the beginning and end of the book) where he went into more detail, which was a good read, but I wish he had done it more. I’m no wiser as to any specifics of what went on behind the scenes at arsenal in his 22 years there, for instance, nor was there any other real storytelling, insight into the specifics of management, or his side of the story on some of the most famous incidents he was involved in. I can’t help but feel he could’ve let the reader into much more. You may also opt to downgrade to Standard Digital, a robust journalistic offering that fulfils many user’s needs. Compare Standard and Premium Digital here. Towards the end of My Life In Red And White, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger ponders the conversation that will take place should he eventually reach the gates of heaven. I found myself invited to David Dein’s house that evening. He had said to me: ‘We’ll talk about football.’ I mainly recall a very sociable evening with a lot of laughter and games, a kind of charades. I seem to recall one of the subjects they asked me to enact was A Midsummer Night’s Dream – no easy task – and I got through it pretty well!” He says. “The friendship, complicity and understanding between David and me date from that first dinner, and from all the times we’ve seen each other since.”

He was manager at Arsenal during a time when football changed dramatically. Traditionally the owners of the big clubs tended to be wealthy local businessmen with a love of the game. Gradually foreign investors injected huge amounts of capital into Premiership clubs, American entrepreneurs, Russian oligarchs and wealthy Asians now own England's top football clubs. Wenger commented on the growing number of staff employed by Arsenal who looked after the marketing and branding of the club. This was an interesting aspect of the book. The pictures include a picture of a banner-trailing plane – but unfortunately not the one I helped crowdfund. Arsenal had a style of play that was criticised, but there was a style of play,” he says. “I can understand that people want only to win, but you need to have the desire to transform the team expression into art. When the supporter wakes up in the morning, he has to think: ‘Oh, maybe I’ll have a fantastic experience today!’ He wants to win the game but as well to see something beautiful.” I was at the training ground to interview Wenger the afternoon before the last game of the Invincibles season, and while I was waiting for him in his office, a Frenchman I didn’t recognise came in and slammed his hand down hard on the manager’s desk. “Stupid English regulations,” he said. I expressed sympathy. “We are trying to sign a player, an incredible player. Yaya Touré. He has much more power than his brother. But they won’t let us.” It was a story that provided me with great currency among fellow fans, especially a few years later, when Touré was tearing up the midfields and defences of every other Premier League team. It is the absence of revealing stories here that will most disappoint Wenger’s many admirers. When asked at a press conference, shortly before he left Arsenal, whether he was writing a book, he replied: “Not at the moment. Because I don’t like to talk and not tell the truth. As long as you are in work, you cannot really tell what is going on.” One should point out that he is still in work, at Fifa, perhaps the most political of all sporting bodies. What we have instead is a lot of quiet, thoughtful musings on the qualities necessary for management, coaching and playing, with lots of abstract nouns: “The action [today’s manager] needs to take should be based on a three-pronged approach: giving people responsibilities, personalising and openness, through clear and constant communication, based on today’s science.” Roy Keane probably wouldn’t have written that sentence.

Whether it is not covered out of an enduring love and loyalty to the club or due to the frequent legal complexities that come with these decisions is ultimately to be seen.We heard for years about that summer of 2011. He said himself he could easily write a book on the "unbelievable" summer that year. Well.... he did. And nothing he wrote shed any light on what happened. But what really twines the book together is a showcase of just how far dedication, obsession and loyalty can take someone. By any measure, Wenger is obsessive, and has often been excessively so. His passion for the sport in general has never wavered, and his vision is as clear now as it has ever been; something that strikes a power chord in the final chapter, where he outlines his plans at FIFA to increase development of the rules, young players and contribute to the growth of women's football too. It’s one example but there were so many. The history of a big club is full of missed great players!

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