The ex-chief of Arsenal Football Club (London) charts his rise to become one of the most successful soccer managers of all time, including his studious take on the game, his groundbreaking approach to fitness and nutrition, his ability to spot young talent and more.
... engrossing, surprisingly poignant and often exasperatingly buttoned-up ... Anyone expecting Mr. Wenger to suddenly open up his puffy coat and reveal the secrets he has long kept to himself has come to the wrong memoir ... The only dark truth that emerges in these pages is that he didn’t really like broccoli ... Part valedictory lap, part future TED Talk and part apologia to his family and friends ... Wenger will no doubt be erected outside the Emirates Stadium...his patrician head held as high as it is in these pages.
There are a million questions that Arsenal fans would want Wenger to answer. The answers, unfortunately, are either missing altogether from My Life in Red and White, or expressed in a way that is long familiar to us ... The opening chapters of what is a surprisingly short book, about Wenger’s childhood and playing days, are elegiac and rather moving ... His career has been spectacular, rich, colourful. But when he is talking about the end at Arsenal there is a glimpse of regret and bitterness. He tells us that after the Invincibles season he turned down job offers from PSG, Juventus, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, England and France ... He clearly doesn’t think that loyalty was returned ... But that, really, is all this clever, charismatic man will say about his forced departure. Perhaps there will be another, more revealing book, when he has stopped work altogether.
Leaving [José ] Mourinho out of his life story is like Balzac leaving Vautrin out of Père Goriot: it removes one of the essential engines of the plot. It also deprives us of one of the story’s most interesting characters. Wenger has explained that he wanted the book to be 'positive', which, from the reader’s point of view, is not the best motivation for writing a memoir ... Wenger’s decision to eliminate the negative leaves a book that disappoints as an account of football management, if we view the football manager as the most important person at any club ... My Life in Red and White is a disappointment to those of us who anticipated the sort of book at which Wenger once hinted. No score-settling, and very little explanation of some of the more puzzling moments in his career are on offer. There is also a reluctance to address football’s less edifying excrescences ... Instead, there is a surprisingly honest self-portrait of an obsessive, driven man, who decided that the game really could be beautiful, and was prepared to sacrifice himself to that belief.