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Burgers & lager, or a few million quid?

The Guardian has a story full of interesting facts and observations on Arsene Wenger's revolution at Arsenal. The process began in the dressing room, where "the professor" convinced a group of hard headed, hard drinking footballers to change their ways.

[E]ight years ago Wenger had to prove himself. The Arsenal dressing room had proved too big for Rioch [former manager] to handle, so how did the Frenchman with the funny accent and the oddly apposite Christian name go about beginning his overhaul of the club?

'He intellectualised to the players,' Dein [the vice-chairman] explained over lunch last week. Come again? 'The biggest problem for any manager nowadays is motivating multimillionaires. Arsene reminded the players it said professional footballer on their passports and invited them to behave like professionals and be the best. He told them they could carry on with the burgers and the lager and end up in the Third Division, or adopt his philosophy, extend their careers at the top level and make a few million quid. They listened to that. It's no secret that Arsene was not impressed with the culture he inherited. So he changed it, revolutionising the club and setting new standards in English football.

'Everyone is at it now, the diet and so on, but that's fair enough. We progress when we all learn from each other. If you ask Steve Bould or Tony Adams, or Martin Keown who is still up for another Premiership contract at the age of 37, they are all physically and mentally in good shape. Mentally is very important these days, it is not just a physical game any more. That's why a lot of clubs employ sports psychologists. We don't need one, Arsene does the job.'

That would be in addition to Arsene's other jobs of making Manchester United's life a misery, scouting opponents, sourcing top talent from all over the globe and transforming players discarded by other clubs into world-beaters. Dein does not like to boast, you understand, but he can quote a few statistics.

There are 10 nationalities in the current first-team squad. There have been 102 first-team comings and goings under Wenger, at an overall transfer deficit of £40million. That averages out at around £5m per season - not bad given the success rate and the fact that Arsenal made £56m from television and prize money this season alone.

The article goes on to discuss how Arsenal plan to capitalize on their recent success, achieved with modest means and shrewd management. Their plans to build a new stadium in North London have been widely chronicled in the British press. It hasn't been easy - where in North London could one find a suitable property at a reasonable price? And it won't be cheap. The price tag will come in at £300m-£400m - that's pounds, my fellow Americans. And it's all privately financed. If this were an American football team, they'd be begging for a subsidy and threatening to move to a new city.