By Ben Holker
Book: The Inside Story Of Arsenal Under Wenger
Author: John Cross
My first choice is the most recently written, from September 2015 and is by a journalist called John Cross. It is a brilliant biography of Arsene Wenger and I think it gives an incredible insight into his time at Arsenal and his decisionmaking, strategy and philosophy. Hamptonians won’t be at all surprised that I rate this book so highly!
It’s a fascinating book, not just for Arsenal fans, but for anyone who is interested in how modern football in England has evolved since the Premier League began.
It is also a great book if you are interested in leadership of any organisation because it explains really well how Wenger has shaped every aspect of the club. Whether or not you were a ‘Wenger In’ or a ‘Wenger Out’ person, I don’t think there is a better way of gaining an understanding for how a big sporting organisation has evolved and how it works than you will get by reading this book.
Book: The Jordan Rules
Author: Sam Smith
I think this one is probably more of a surprise. It is about basketball, which is a sport I enjoy watching almost exclusively on TV, though I have seen a couple of matches live in America. It is written by an American journalist called Sam Smith and is about arguably the most famous basketball player ever, Michael Jordan.
It is the story of his career generally, but in particular about how the NBA championship-winning Chicago Bulls team was put together by their coach, Phil Jackson. It explains how he persuaded Jordan to become more of a team player in order to fulfil his personal ambitions. Jackson is another coach and leader for whom I have a lot of admiration – I think he has a lot in common with Arsene Wenger in style and approach.
I think the reason I particularly enjoyed this book and why I would recommend it to anyone – whether they like basketball or sport at all – is because it’s a brilliant narrative.
It also explains how even if you are the most famous player, the most well-paid player, and the most important player on paper, you can not win on your own. As an analysis of the importance of teamwork in achieving success, it’s a superb read.
Book: Fever Pitch
Author: Nick Hornby
Another book I would recommend is Fever Pitch, an autobiographical novel by Nick Hornby. It is about being a football fan, in his case an Arsenal fan. Whether or not you support Arsenal, I think it’s the best book ever written about being a football fan and the emotions we go through.
If there is one book that I wish I had written, it would be this one. It’s deeply emotional at times; it’s incredibly funny at times. Everyone can identify with the highs and lows that come with following your team, whoever you support.
You will have experienced all the things that Nick Hornby has: the disappointments and the triumphs. A great many books have been written since Fever Pitch, but in my opinion, none are as beautifully written.