Exclusive: We spoke to Amy Lawrence, author of 'The Wenger Revolution'
Following her excellent debut book, ‘Invincible’, an in-depth narrative documenting the highs and lows of the Arsenal’s enthralling unbeaten 2003/04 campaign, award winning journalist Amy Lawrence returns with ‘The Wenger Revolution – Twenty Years of Arsenal’, another must-buy for avid supporters of the Gunners.
Amy’s latest offering combines anecdotes from Arsene Wenger himself, alongside beautiful imagery documented by Stuart MacFarlane throughout the Frenchman’s twenty year spell in charge of the North London outfit, during which he as experienced three Premier League title successes and six FA Cup triumphs.
As stated in the book’s pre-text:
“This fascinating era is chronicled from the very beginning with distinctive photographs taken from inside the inner sanctum of the club. This captivating coaction of images is captioned with personal anecdotes from Arsene Wenger himself as he reminisces about the significant moments and people that have defined his time at the club over the last 20 years.”
The real art of this publication is in the way the excellent photographs have been pulled together, providing a visual history of the last two decades at Arsenal. For any supporter of the Gunners, or even of the Premier League, this truly is a time capsule contained between two hard covers.
Wenger’s voice adds a new level to the book, with snippets of his insight contained throughout. His thoughts and opinions are captured expertly by Amy, who has shown her devotion for the club she supports in bringing together this fantastic tribute to the Premier League’s current longest-serving manager.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Amy, following the release of her new book…
TBR: ‘The Wenger Revolution’ is slightly different to the work you have done in the past. What inspired you to put together a pictorial-based piece?
Amy: Stuart, the Arsenal photographer who I have known for a while, very kindly offered to help me out with some images for a previous book – Invincible, about Arsenal’s 2003-04 unbeaten Premier League campaign. When I saw the quality and variety of work he had about just that season, we discussed the potential for a book using more of his collection. It all evolved from there. With the anniversary approaching of 20 years of Wenger’s era at the club, it felt like a good time to put together a kind of retrospective.
TBR: What was it like working alongside Stuart MacFarlane? Is he someone you have worked alongside prior to ‘The Wenger Revolution’?
Amy: As I mentioned, we had worked together before. Luckily we get on very well and the creative side of putting the book together was a very positive experience.
TBR: Can you tell us a bit about your methods when pulling the book together? How did you choose the best moments from Wenger’s tenure, and what drove your choice of imagery?
Amy: Arsenal’s archive is huge. There are millions of pictures from the club’s history so it was quite a painstaking process for Stuart to go through a lot of images trying to narrow it down to a manageable number. Once we had established the structure of the book, and what each chapter would try to portray, he pulled together a selection. We laid them all out on the floor and tried to pick the best ones. There were some fantastic pictures that unfortunately never made the final cut but we had to be ruthless!
TBR: If you had to pick your most memorable moment from Arsene Wenger’s twenty years at the club, what would it be?
Amy: That’s a tough question. Not sure I can even pick the most memorable moment from one season…
TBR: When it comes to your work as a journalist, which Arsenal player (past or present) has given you the most memorable interview, and why?
Amy: Dennis Bergkamp. Absolutely enlightening and an original thinker.
TBR: We presume you spent a fair bit of time with Arsene Wenger, himself, throughout the production of the book. What is he like away from the eye of the wider media?
Amy: Funny, relaxed, interested in a wide spectrum of things and people, a superb communicator.
TBR: Can you tell us a little about The Arsenal Foundation and some of the charitable work they do?
Amy: They fundraise on an annual basis to help multiple projects close to home and far overseas, with a particular focus on the disadvantaged and displaced. Using the power of football to inspire people and help those in trouble to get back on their feet, it’s reassuring to think that an institution as rich and powerful as a Premier League football club can maintain a strong focus on helping people.
TBR: What is your outlook for the Gunners this season? Can you see them maintaining their current form and mounting a genuine title challenge come May?
Amy: Having followed football for roughly 40 years I have seen way too much to see any value in predicting anything with any certainty after a handful of games! Obviously they have had a promising run, but the challenge to keep that going is an unpredictable one. Any potential champion needs great reserves of character as well as technical quality, and some luck on top of that. Keeping key players fit is essential.
The Wenger Revolution: Twenty Years of Arsenal by Amy Lawrence and Stuart MacFarlane is out now (Bloomsbury, £20 / £17.99 eBook)