Take this for what it is, or take from it what you wish. It is what it is, and this is the internet....
There's a saying - "never meet your heroes" - well last night I met one of mine, Arsène Wenger, and he well and truly blew away that theory.
Five of us got to the Diamond Club at 7pm and AW was there waiting for us. He was joined by Arsenal's Communications Director - Mark Gonnella, a very nice and interesting chap who was obviously enjoying being in Arsène's company as much as we were. I think the dinner was scheduled to be done and dusted by 10pm but we ended up leaving at ten minutes past midnight. Arsène was very relaxed, candid and open and as interesting as we all expect him to be. Both him and Mark were very generous with their time and at no stage did it feel like they were clock watching or keen to go home. In fact, if anything I was starting to worry that it was a long night for them, but they seemed wholly unbothered and were happy to keep chatting.
Behind our table - the only one in the whole of the Diamond Club, the rest must have been put away, it was just the 7 of us being looked after in there - there was 2 flat screen TV's, and they were showing both ECL quarter finals, one on each screen. Arsène showed an uncanny knack to watch both screens with one eye whilst always appearing attentive to the questions and conversation going on around the table. He confirmed that if there is a football match on the TV, then he is watching it. Mrs Wenger doesn't get much of a look in it seems.
I've racked my brains and tried to recall as much of the conversation as I can. There was a couple of subjects he skirted around - like the ownership structure (''you work in the city, you probably know more than me about that"), and about current transfer targets (apart from Podolski), but generally he was happy to talk about anything. Here is a random walk of bullet points of what I can remember.... would probably be best if you didn't forward any of this stuff or refer to anything that he might find embarrassing (such as any negative comments about players or opposing managers) .... cheers !
(Where I have inserted quotation marks then I can't vouch for the exact words but it's as close to them as I can recall and faithful to the point(s) being made).
Oh, and by the way the food was Michelin star standard and the wine was - to coin an Arsène phrase - ''Super Top Quality'' - and he certainly enjoyed a few glasses of the red stuff himself. ''I like white wine but I avoid it as it makes me nervous"...... haha I know the feeling boss.
* Podolski is done. Irrespective of if we get a Champs League spot or not. AW likes him because he can play up top or on either wing. He also sees him as Insurance in case RVP goes. But that is not the plan.
* They are going to try very hard to get RVP to stay. AW said if it is just a financial question, then he does not doubt that the best thing is to sell him for very decent money to Man City or PSG and save on what would be a big contract as well. But this is not just a financial question, and he thinks RVP does not see it that way either. AW thinks RVP was badly advised in that he should have signed a new contract - or moved - last year. He thinks the type of contract at City that Nasri is on is not really there for Robin due to his age. Nevertheless he can earn more away from Arsenal, but he feels it is less of a factor for RVP than a lot of other players.
* Described RVP as the best captain the club has had in his time at AFC. He said he really "looks after" the other players. AW was surprised how good he has turned out to be as skipper, as he was not expecting him to be anything like as good.
* A constant theme - he wants the supporters to be proud of the way the club goes about its business. New stadium / net transfer spend in his time just £3m / living within means and no sugar daddy. Said he was frustrated at times when the fans turned against him in terms of new players, referred to the time when the away fans sang ''spend some f#cking money'' at Craven Cottage. Said something along the lines of ''do people really think I like to sit here with my pockets full of money and not win ? When we lose I do not sleep for 2 days''.
* The only time I felt AW got properly irritated was when the subject of last Summers transfer dealings, and late August buys - came up. He felt that we extracted a fantastic deal for AFC when they sold Nasri for £23m, and he stressed that the comments he made about not being able to sell both Cesc and Nasri was all part of the plan to up Nasri's price as his contract expired. The early shopping for Gervinho and The Ox and Jenkinson was all planned and they were happy. But as they went into the start of the season they were caught short by the injuries to Wilshere / Diaby / Gibbs / Vermaelen. (I will touch on the Wilshere and Diaby injury situations later). I did ask him who his reserve left back was going to be before he signed Santos, and he said he felt Sagna (or Vermaelen) could be left back and Jenkinson come in at right back. But the Gibbs setback being longer than was anticipated forced him into the market late. Ditto the Wilshere injury which was a moving target and a lot more serious than initially thought. Diaby had also been looking great in early pre season and only as they approached the start of the season did he break down again.
* The Jack Wilshere injury was caused in the England Switzerland game at the close of the previous season. He was scanned and nothing sinister showed up. AW knew he was in the red zone (again, I will come back to the famous ''red zone'') and knew he was increasing the chances of injury. He said if he could go back in time he would have played JW in less games, but he had plenty of other injuries in midfield (common theme) late that season and he felt he had no option. He referred to the argument he had with the FA where he didn't want JW to play for the U21's. Jack had his scan and it looked ok and he went on 4 weeks holiday. He then played in the Emirates cup and had pain again. He saw different specialists and received varying advice. In the end they settled on a diagnosis that meant there was a break and subsequent tendon problem near the break that was in a very unusual but fragile part of the foot/ankle. In the end the advice they took was this - If he doesn't have this operation he will never play again. And if he has the operation, there is a only 50/50 chance that it will be successful - i.e. a 50pct chance that they will know immediately during the operation when the bone would deteriorate to such an extent that he would never play again. "When we woke up that morning we were all feeling very uneasy"..... thankfully the operation was a success and he has no doubt he is going to be back to normal.
* So, with the Perfect (although to most of our eyes not unexpected) Storm occurring of injuries to Wilshere/Diaby/Gibbs/Vermaelen he has to go and find a Centre Mid and a Centre back and a LB. They liked M'Villa and looked at him (and still are). Rumours that M'Villa had a medical at Arsenal were not true. Arsène then rang Bill Kenwright at Everton and asked him about both Arteta and Fellaini. AW really likes Fellaini and was raving about his performance on the Tuesday night Everton win over Sunderland. Kenwright said he wanted £30m for Fellaini, well over Arsène's valuation, but Kenwright said he would consider Arteta move. Initially the Arteta move fell down on personal terms. So AW goes to Chelsea and gets Benayoun on loan, a 1 year deal that he felt suited both parties as it was a stop gap while Wilshere / Diaby / Coq / Frimpong etc sort themselves out in one way or another and would not stop them playing in the next year. Then the Arteta deal is resurrected as he slashes his personal terms (takes big cut) and the deal goes through. AW said if he had known he was going to get Arteta then he probably would not have done the loan deal for Benayoun.
* Arsenal also offered £12m for Cahill, more than was reported. AW said Gartside "lied". And I detected a little smile when he confirmed Bolton sold him to Chelsea for £7m. So we got Mertesacker instead and while he confirmed his preferred CB pairing is Kos/Verma he said Mertesacker was a ''fantastic man" with a great influence on the dressing room. He raved about Koscielny on a few occasions, despite him being what he called ''accident prone'' ..... e.g. Anfield/CC Final/Blackburn away.
*On Arteta. He was massively complimentary. Said he is excellent influence in dressing room. Said he was the only player he had signed who had taken a decent pay cut. I asked him why he thought he hadn't played for Spain, and he said what we probably all agree, said he thinks he is a slight level below Xavi/Iniesta/Fabregas, but also that playing for unfashionable teams Rangers and Everton would have hurt his chances.
* I asked him about Goetze at Dortmund. He said he really likes him "but so does everybody else". And said his loyalty to Dortmund was hard to prize him away, the new contract made that even harder, as would if he had a good Euro 2012, and that he thinks he is 'probably' out of AFC's reach. But he did say 'probably'.
* Transfer targets. Confirmed he likes M'Villa. Said his main worry is moving on existing players to make room for new players. ''The market in Europe is static''. "I can only have 25 players in the squad". He confirmed that the only contract to expire in the Summer was Almunia.
* Nasri. He said he was not a bad influence in the dressing room last year. He was serious when he said that Nasri had not long ago asked to ''come back in June'', and he laughed when he told us that his reply to him was ''you have one problem there - your wages !".
* Fabregas. AW confirmed that he had an agreement with Cesc for 'one more year', but that he hoped that he would be able to persude him to stay at AFC until he was 28 and then join Barce. But AW thinks this backfired a bit, as 'Cesc was never really with us last season''. He got very animated talking about the back heel on the edge of our box at the Camp Nou. He said he subconsciously did it because maybe he wanted to impress the Barce fans, and that there is no way he would have done that anywhere else in the KO stages of the ECL.
* The 8-2 loss to ManU. He said he knew the team was going to lose, he had already told his staff that they needed to ''write off that game'' as the players had come off tough games v Udinese and Liverpool at home and in very hot conditions away to Udinese. He said he has had much harder losses to take than that one.
* We talked about Walcott. AW prefers him on the wing and is doubtful about him as a CF as his work with his back to goal is not good enough, his first touch is ''nothing like as good as Van Persie's, which is world class'', and that he thinks while he is often very good at home, he still has a tendency to hide in away games. Asked if he was tempted to substitute him at HT in the Spurs game, he said ''oh yes'' - and said he had already taken him off at HT in the San Siro the week before, ''I looked in his eyes and I could see he was scared''.
* Re. that Milan loss. He confirmed that some very harsh words were said after that game. But when pressed as to what he said, he replied ''you will have to buy my book !''. I asked him if any of this particular gee-up was from TH14, or did TH14 leave the team with parting, rousing message....and he firmly said No. Mark Gonnella said to me ''It's not Disneyland !''
* Alex Song. AW was happy to talk him up. He said he has the ''best stats in Europe''. In his early days he was a little over-awed by the big names in the dressing room. He went to see Arsène one day and was upset because the ''other players don't rate me''. AW said ''it's not important what they think, it's important what I think'', and he felt from that point he relaxed a bit and he started to improve.
* Thomas Rosicky. The idea that TR7 started to play well to earn a new contract is wrong, because Arsène awarded him a new contract as early as January. AW turned down an offer from Spartak Moscow to take him in January. Felt he had played well in the first half of the season. Attributed his good form to being properly fit at last, and moving him inside - where he prefers playing. When we were talking about injuries, AW mentioned that his main injury was first diagnosed as out for 3 days only, but ended up being 15 months !
* Aaron Ramsey. AW said he is a very good player but has a ''weak first touch'', I asked him if it was the case before he broke his leg, and he said ''partly, yes''. But he has played him on the left on occasions this year - e.g. Everton away - as AW thinks we are weaker on our left side and Ramsey is a good option for toughening up that side in difficult games.
* The Ox. ''a very intelligent boy''. Says he is more versatile than Theo and he will certainly be able to play in the middle. But he said he has to be careful as ''he is 18 and we have to weigh him every day''.
* Goalkeepers. He said the most talented Keeper at the club is Fabianski, but he is not as mentally strong as Szczesny. He said Almunia was mentally shot to pieces, or words to that effect. Everyone around the table was waxing lyrical about Szczesny but AW said ''he has still cost us 3 games this season, and the Carling Cup last season''. But he agreed that he had a big feeling for the club and that his major asset was his confidence. He agreed his distribution needed work. I mentioned Shay Given, and how I had always thought we should have bought him, but how poor he looked on Saturday for Villa, and he said that he had never been a fan of Given, he thought he was too small and not good on crosses. He confirmed he was in for Schwarzer at the start of last season. But he said Fulham wanted £12m for him, a ridiculous amount for a 39 year old. He said he bid £4m for him which he thought was already too much. He told a good story about Jens Lehmann - when he made a few mistakes in his last full season, and AW dropped him for Almunia, he said Lehmann was really hacked off. Lehmann said to him - I am going to prove you wrong. And instead of coming in at the normal time for training, he came in 30 mins earlier. And then the next week he came in 1 hour earlier. And the next week 1 hr 30 mins earlier. A few times AW reverted to the theme of really liking German players' (and German people generally) work ethics and professionalism.
* Santos / Gibbs. I asked him who was first choice, and he shrugged his shoulders and said ''I don't know. I put Gibbs in there at the moment as he does well, but I think Santos is the better footballer, but maybe Gibbs gives us more offensively". He said ''I made a mistake'' when he played Santos in the ECL group match where he ruptured ligaments, as he knew Gibbs was still out for some time and had no cover.
* Diaby. Thinks his injury problems regarding his ankle are finally over. Would have finished most players careers. But he said his problem now is that the 'Receptors' in his body are still over compensating for a change in natural movement and this is causing all the small muscle strains. He is bullish on Diaby, feels his best position is Defensive Midfield, which is a different opinion to the player himself who thinks he should play in a more advanced position. But AW made it clear he really rates him.
* Arshavin. AW feels his natural body language is at odds with what is actually going on inside the player. He said he really does care a lot. But the stats show that his body is not as efficient as it used to be, and that his powers of recovery after any physical bursts are not as good as they should be. I asked him if he thought he was a bit overweight and he said ''yes, a bit, and he is 32".
* Coquelin / Frimpong. He said Frimpong was similar to Arshavin in that their starts showed his recovery levels were not good. Different to Coq, who moves around the pitch ''a lot easier''. He said Coq was a 12k a match runner, and Frimpong was a 10k a match runner, and this this was important because this was equivalent to 20 'box to box' runs per match.
* Players contracts / AFC Wage structure. Mark Gonnella talked about the Salary document that appeared on a lot of the main blogs, and he said the only thing on there that was correct was the total wage spend at the bottom, and that was taken from the Clubs' accounts. He said every single player salary on there was wrong. There was a brief discussion about how financially bad it would be if we missed out on the ECL, and Mark said something along the lines of - our finances are better than the blogs say they are - and he seemed un-keen to expand on that but the inference was certainly there.
* Players going out on Loan. Confirmed that we sometimes subsidise the salaries of players in order to get them out on loan. This goes against what Gazidis said at last years AST meeting where he said we do not do that. But AW said sometimes we make money on loans as well, that for instance we made £2.5m on the Arshavin loan - which explains why he went out at such a strange time of the season. At this point another of the guests gave AW a bit of stick - saying we have a lot of players on our books who are on 'Champions League money but are not Champions League standard'', and generally going on a bit of a rant. AW bristled a bit at this and whilst he agreed it was the case with one or two he said ''have a look at the squads of Barcelona and Madrid, I will show you plenty there as well, you don't get every decision right''.
* Players Attitudes. Big problem is they have too much money and too much time. He wanted them to be too tired to go out by 10pm. AW said the players do have people to help them run the admin of their lives but that he could not enforce Minders upon them. He told the story of seeing George Best drinking alcohol after his liver transplant and said that if someone was that way inclined you could not stop them. He liked players who loved football, told us that if he walks in on a Friday morning and he knows he can talk to RVP about last nights Europa League games, and that Veramelen / Rosicky / Kos were all like that too, but it wasn't the case for a lot of footballers. He told contrasting stories about two of our players when he signed them when they were youngsters. He spoke to Cesc's mum about what Cesc did at weekends when he was a boy. She said - oh he plays football on a Saturday morning and comes home and says ''Mum we won 7-0 but I was rubbish" and then he goes straight outside and gets a ball and kicks it up against a wall all afternoon. Contrasted that with a dinner with Armand Traore's parents just after he had signed Traore. They were about to break up for the summer and he asked them if their son played football in the summer, and they said that he didn't, it was the last thing he would do in the summer..... and Arsène said he was thinking ''mmmm oh dear how can I get out of this ?''.
* Thierry Henry. The best player he has worked with. Although similar to Fabregas, in that in his last season he was not as good for us as he should have been. There was one summer - guess it was 06 or 07 - when TH was on the phone to AW ''every 2 hours'', trying to get him to agree to let him go. Along the lines of - Boss I am 29, I can't wait for Cesc and the kids to grow up, I need to win things now. AW did say that there were times when TH was a total pain in the arse, and at times he walked around as though he was bigger than the club. He also said that towards the end of their time at the club, Henry and Vieira did not get on well, despite being very close when they were younger.
* Patrick Vieira. Another summer transfer saga. Paddy rang AW on holiday every day all summer, saying he wanted to go. In the end AW relented and agreed a deal with Real Madrid for him to go there. Then just before the deal was to be announced AW got a 9.30pm phone call at home and PV asked him if he could come round and see him. He goes round to AW's house and says he has changed his mind, he didn't want to leave. So in the end he stayed one more year, and ended up going to Italy the next summer. Interestingly, AW said that Vieira had asked him three times this year if he can come back to Arsenal. Vieira's contract as a player at Man City was £4m a year, and if he made more than 20 or 25 appearances (as a starter or sub) then it triggered a clause in his contract where they had to give him another year at the same money. Vieira made the required number and invoked the clause. But by that summer City didn't think he was up to another year, and didn't want him using one of their slots in the squad. So they made up the Director of Football role for him and agreed they would pay him the £4m by a 4 year contract on £1m a year. Mark Gonnella told a story about when AFC and City were on tour in China at the same time last year. He said he walked all around the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing with Vieira, and all PV talked about for 30 mins ''Arsenal this and Arsenal that, and what a great man Arsène was''. Mark said he thought it was a bit strange and that Vieira should be wearing a AFC badge on his blazer and not a Man City one. He also told a story about Vieira when he left Italy before he came to AFC, he said he was 5 mins from signing for Ajax but AW got wind of it and told him to not sign and go home and David Dein would be in touch in a few hours. And he signed for us two days later.
* Nicolas Anelka. AW said that possibly Anelka had more talent than Henry, but he just didn't love football at all. AW was very proud of the Anelka deal, buying him for 500k and selling him for £22m - spending £10m of that on Henry and the rest on the new training ground.
* William Gallas. Felt that he never integrated into the club, described him as a ''bit strange'', and agreed he was not a good skipper.
* Denilson. When he was signed they felt he had tremendous potential. But he said he did ''not take his body seriously'', which I took to mean some kind of re-fuelling issues.
* Adebeyor. AW said he was one of 6 players at Man City who earned over £200k a week. He thought Man City did some dodgy things with recent player contracts, such as Aguero was paid 100pct off-shore, and Adebeyor had 20pct of his contract paid in Image Rights which he thought the IR would have a fight over. I made a comment that I thought Adebeyor had a ''pea-heart'' and wasn't up for a fight and AW agreed, and said ''we are seeing that now''.
* Ashley Cole. AW said that he had agreed the infamous 60k per week salary with Cole's agent, but made it clear to the agent that he had to get sign off from the board. The agent obviously went back to Cashley and told him 60k was done. Then the board refused to go to more than 55k - and this was what made Cole so angry, as he thought it had been agreed. AW agreed that with the benefit of hindsight they should have paid him the 60k.
* Nikolas Bendtner. Didn't think he would stay at Sunderland as he is ''not O'Neill's type''.
* Ju Young Park. AW - ''No idea if he is good enough, he just hasn't played enough. We had no idea Van Persie was going to be as good and as strong as he has been this season''. We missed a chance to press him on this transfer, one of the strangest I can think of.
* 2006 Champions League Final. I asked AW for his recollections of the game, and if he had any regrets about taking Pires off when Lehmann was sent off. He said ''absolutely not, it was my only choice''. He said if he had one regret then it was that he maybe should not have put Flamini on when he took Fabregas off with 15 minutes to go. He said he remembered Freddie Ljunberg having a great match, and that Sol Campbell may have scored for us but he was at fault for their equaliser as he was dragged out of position.
* Sol Campbell. Laughed about his eating habits. He said that when Sol went to the buffet at the club's lunch time service, he would always queue up behind him and check how much he put on his plate. He said Campbell and Song were similar players in that it was ''hard to get them to go to war, but once they decided they were ready, they were fantastic''. (I can vouch for Sol's eating habits, I've seen him order 3 breakfasts at the cafe in Portugal where he goes every morning).
* Robert Pires. I asked AW if he regretted letting RP go too early - response ''absolutely not, he was physically finished''. He talked about the game where Pires did his cruciate in an innocuous challenge in 2002, and he said he had regrets about that. Because the Optima stats that week had shown that Pires was in the red-zone, and that on the Friday AW had decided he was not going to play him. But he changed his mind late on - and he remembers how well Pires played that day until his injury. But AW did say that because Pires did his other cruciate in a similar way later on in his career, then it proved to him that it would have happened anyway, as when two cruciates go in non contact tackles then that players' body has an inherent weakness there.
* Tony Adams. Someone else at the table said he was glad that the player was now back in favour at the club, after appearing to have fallen out with them previously. AW said ''I would say that Arsenals relationship with Tony Adams has always been good, but that Tony Adams' relationship with Arsenal has not always been good''. He described TA as a ''complex character''.
* Optima Stats. They use these a great deal, and can tell when a player is tired as they show how long a players feet are on the ground when they are running - and the longer they are on the ground then the more tired they are, and the weaker the players core muscles are at that time. I think Arsène called it the ''lightness effect''. These stats told them how much effort players had to put in to move their body around, for instance Wilshere had to work a bit harder than average to move around as he has a relatively low centre of gravity. The longer the players feet are on the ground relative to normal, the more they are in that now infamous 'red zone'.
* Medical staff. AW shrugged off criticism of the medical staff, he said the problems they have had with mis-diagnosis are not by AFC's staff, but by the specialists they see. He said there have been cases of a player seeing 3 specialists and getting 3 different answers. He said our medical staff just treat players injuries as they are told to by the specialists. He made one comment about our ex players - ''when they want to get fit, they always come back to us''. This bought us on to the subject of Beckham training with us while the MLS was on its break, AW said he trained as a ''total professional'' but that he was ''already at a level not good enough for Arsenal''.
* The Famous Arsenal back 5 he inherited from George Graham. AW - they were not even the best defence we have had, the defence of the Invincibles were better.
* Other Managers. I asked him who were the opposing managers he most disliked. He rose to this question a bit and didn't shy away. He named all the usual suspects, Hughes, O'Neill, Pardew, Ferguson, Pulis.... but he said ''to be honest I have a problem with all of them so maybe it is my fault'' which raised a laugh. But I pressed him to name just one who he disliked the most and he said he would have to say Allardyce, he disliked how arrogant he was and how he strutted around puffing his chest out all the time. We touched on Mourinho and he said he wasn't his favourite either, and he said Mourinho was sacked because of a player revolt in the same way that AVB was. He said that he couldn't work at a club where there was such influence on the manager, ''it is very important that everyone sticks to their own job''.
* Sir Alex Ferguson. He didn't say much but he did say he had ''perfect timing'' on when to sell a player. Similar I guess to AW in that very few players, if any, go on to better things once they have left.
* Who would replace him ? He said he was glad he was not making that decision. He said he could not see any of the old players taking over, someone like Steve Bould was intelligent (''like all the players in that defence'') but that he had not committed himself to a big job yet and that he would not understand how much pressure there was in taking such a big job. He said he liked Brendan Rogers ''but he has only had one season''.
* I asked him which Man Utd player he would most like to have play for AFC and he not surprisingly said Rooney, praised his desire, but he also liked Valencia and Nani. On the subject of Man Utd he was very complimentary about Gary Nevill on Sky, he said ''both Nevill boys are very intelligent''.
* Players that were close to signing but got away. His biggest regret was Ronaldo. He said we had him at the club in an Arsenal kit, and he was going to sign. But Sporting Lisbon played ManU in a friendly and Ronaldo destroyed Gary Nevill and all the ManU players went on at Fergie to sign him. And then Carlos Queroz went to be Fergusons no.2 and he raved about Ronaldo and they threw the chequebook at Lisbon and so we lost him. Another regret was Xavi ALonso who was very close to coming, he had fallen out with Benitez but right at the death Benitez made it up with him as he didn't want him to go to Arsenal.
* England manager. Agreed the manager should be English. He said he had heard that the FA did not want Redknapp.
* Euro 2012. I asked him who we should back and he said Spain, I asked him for an outside bet - he said France have a better team than England and that if they get their heads together they should not only beat England but do well in the competition.
* Jose Antonio Reyes - a good player but he said some players are "not for export'' and Reyes was one of these.
* Giles Grimandi - "I will always owe Grimandi because he found me Sagna".
* Worst Buy - Francis Jeffers. He made a hand gesture suggesting he liked a drink.
* Future Arsenal players. He said that he can always tell a player by the time he is 20. Was excited by Benik Afobe and Chucks Aeneke. Felt that Lansbury was a good player but ''just a little short'' in a few areas. But he was most excited by two 15 year olds on our books - one German kid who I presume is Serge Gnabry ? and one American boy who AW said ''I never thought I would see a talent like that come out of the U.S.''.... He didn't say his name but a small amount of digging and I'm sure we can find it. Apparently a big lad already, but Arsène was really excited about him as a prospect.
* Referees. He got quite animated about them, he said he felt they were ruining the game and especially in Europe. All they say is ''Respect, Respect, Respect, and then they Report''. Made a comment alluding to a few games having their results altered by referees that were not honest.
* Cost of watching games. Said he was uncomfortable with how much it cost people to watch Arsenal. ''I come from a background where if I wanted to watch a game of football then I had to make a sacrifice somewhere else, it does not sit well with me''.
* The Premiership. Said that any foreign player who leaves AFC to play abroad always tells him afterwards that they miss the Premiership.
* Dortmund came up, he said he loved the culture of German football and that the rule that you had to be a member of a club for a number (10 ?) of years before you could buy it was a great idea.
The last 20 minutes were actually spent with AW asking us a few questions, he seemed interested in what we thought would happen to Europe and the Euro. And he was wondering where he should put his money ! There was a discussion about how long Europe would retain the power base in world football, and in typical Arsène fashion we had a bit of a deep discussion about single child families in China and what it meant for their society and ultimately what it meant for their football team !