REVIEW: The Real Arsenal by Brian Glanville
Brian Glanville does not hide his support for Arsenal and in this book he seeks to offer an alternative history to the official, sometimes saccharine, versions put forward. He succeeds by concentrating as much on the personalities as the events, book-ending with the two most influential managers in the club’s history.
A pre-amble through the days of Henry Norris and the machinations that put Arsenal into the position of requiring a saviour, arriving in the form of Herbert Chapman. Stories abound regarding the wranglings over transfers, the stipulations put into place over criteria for players physiques, the shenanigans which unfolded to circumvent such strictures.
Through Chapman and his successors, to the present day, the book is a chance to give shine to Glanville’s knowledge of the game and the access he has been granted to players throughout the years. The affinities and personal allegiances are not hidden as the author seeks to right wrongs in print, notably those contained in Bob Wall’s book.
This is no exercise in sweeping failings under the carpet, no matter who made the mistakes. Billy Wright’s ill-fated reign is given short shrift, not on a personal level, purely a footballing one. The bright spot of the period 1969-72 provides welcome relief from what followed until Graham and more recently Wenger, shone the searchlight of success once more onto the club.
As you would expect, the book is extremely well-written, the eulogies on the jacket testament to the regard in which Glanville is held. This is a highly recommended book to be read by all Arsenal fans.