A peek into the soul of Arsenal
On the cover of Alex Fynn's latest anatomy of Arsenal Football Club, Arsènal: The Making of a Modern Superclub, 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 ex-vice-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.