With a team that has as lush of a history as Arsenal, the idea of a lengthy tome about the club is near picture perfect. In Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub, authors Kevin Whitcher and Alex Fynn have created an extremely detailed, heavily dramatic and well researched book about one of Europe’s most celebrated clubs.
The partnership between Fynn and Whitcher is a pure all-star team for the book. Whitcher is the editor of Arsenal fanzine “The Gooner” and Fynn is an advertising and football guru who has been acknowledged as one of the architects of both the Premier League and Champions League.
The edition that I received is a newer one with a preface that details the passing of owner Danny Fiszman and his sale of the 16.1% of the club to current majority owner Stan Kroenke. Along with the preface, the new edition also provides lots of information on the club’s youth policy, commercial developments and Emirates Stadium. In what is also an eerie bout of foreshadowing, the authors throw in an open ended question about how the club would change under Kroenke’s majority ownership.
Now that the openings are out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the book. Starting in 1983 with David Dein’s £292,000 purchase of 1,600 shares (a move that in retrospect was not only intelligent but also a huge bargain), the book takes you through the wild trials and tribulations of the club that included an almost complete transformation into a unique and modern club that managed to become a superpower in the game of football. The book is so detailed that while it covers the seasons and trophies won, it also covers the behind-the-scenes aspects like boardroom dealings, battles over finances, gambles over the construction of Ashburton Grove (now known as Emirates Stadium) and the constant struggle of Arsene Wenger to succeed while monitoring the books with extreme care.
After reading the book, it is both a fantastic tale and a real show of evidence towards the season Arsenal is having right now and how they can right the ship. Considering that Wenger was able to produce not only classy football, but successful football while dealing with boardroom upheavals, rotating directors and threats of hostile takeovers, it should show both the club’s lasting legacy and also a sign that while it has almost never been easy, Wenger has been in these situations before.
Anyone who is a new fan would love this book for the deep knowledge that is within and non fans can take in what is one of the more fascinating stories of a top club in the Premier League.