Book Review: Arsene Wenger The Biography

Last updated : 01 September 2007 By Brian Dawes

That said I think this biography gets closer to the nub of Monsieur Wenger than the previous efforts, commendable though they may have been. Certainly it would appear that Xavier read some, if not all of them prior to embarking on this work. And where perhaps he scores over the previous titles is in his ability to come at it from the French angle and perhaps this is the reason he is able to get just a little more inside AW's head and show aspects of Le Boss that he himself might be keener to conceal.

The author was the 'L'Equipe' UK correspondent for a decade, a serious French sports publication. So he has had plenty of time to adjust to the suspicious minds within the English footballing world which considered not that long ago that anyone coming to our game from abroad must be decidedly iffy. Wenger killed that premise stone dead of course. Mainly one suspects because he understands that even if he knows all there is to know about coaching, which perhaps he does, he is still able to continue learning and more importantly adapting his new found knowledge. Wenger's exceptionally rare eye for quality young players will undoubtedly be his legacy to Arsenal Football Club but perhaps more importantly has been his fabulous ability to nurture that talent.

Outside of Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge its fairly hard to find a bad word said about our beloved leader. That said he certainly doesn't have a lot of friends amongst the other Premiership managers but that's much to do with his tendency to be a loner who doesn't court camaraderie from others, certainly not other managers. One suspects that their need to pick his brains is far, far greater than his need to pick theirs. Which may explain why he'd rather get home to his football videos rather than share a glass of wine with Fergie. But many individuals who do get to know him well are clearly friends for life and equally clearly honoured to be part of his life.

Xavier Rivoire's research shows that due to Wenger's job, about which Arsene is clearly obsessive, he's changed character a little over the years and isn't always the fun guy some know him to be. That Arsene is shown to be an expert in so many different fields related to his job should come as no surprise to any who have followed his career. But just how much his expertise is acknowledged by other experts is certainly enlightening. Quite apart from his considerable footballing knowledge he is also clearly an accomplished dietician, linguist, osteopath, and agronomist. He's able to dabble as an architect of sorts and also as a landscape designer and apart from that he's also an oneophile. Which to save you looking it up is merely a wine expert. Not that he actually drinks much of the stuff of course due to his dietary expertise and lack of time for frivolities. This book confirms that he is able to converse with specialists on an almost equal footing and we are talking here about the fields I've just mentioned.

This new title despite being exceedingly well researched especially with respect to his pre-Arsenal days reveals little more than we already knew. That said the early chapters perhaps better than previous biographies of the great man get far closer to explaining the whys of his career along with the facts of how his career developed. Fine work though this is there can only ever be one book that will tell us what we'd really like to know about Wenger. But I'm not sure when Le Boss would ever find time to write one, even if he were ever to have the inclination.

Arsene Wenger The Biography
By Xavier Rivoire
Price £16.99
Published by Aurum

Available from all the usual online bookstores, your favourite bookseller. Just quote ISBN 978 1 84513 276 7 if any of them can't track it down.