Japan Footballers Diet and training Program
Arsenal was the job Arsene Wenger had been waiting for all his footballing life. It was a culmination of everything, a validation of the choice he had made all those years ago to amass an encyclopaedic knowledge of every conceivable aspect of the game. He felt he had come to the home of football, where the connection between the fans and the team trounced anything he had thus far experienced. In Monaco there were no supporters to speak of, and in Japan fanaticism was only skin-deep. His first games at Highbury, with the small see-through dug-out so close to the fans, assaulted his senses, and those of all the French players he brought in.
If Wenger had waited for this job, he had also prepared for it. Many of the changes he effected at Arsenal were previously road-tested at Monaco and Nancy. This being an old club, however, with entrenched traditions, he understood that he couldn't change everything at once. When he arrived, Wenger chose to drive the club forward with a mixed economy of revolution and evolution. He reassured players that some things were going to stay the same, even as others changed out of all recognition. The first decision he took was to persevere with most of the existing squad, and specifically the existing defence. The famous back five of David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn had already clocked up hundreds of hours together, and racked up countless clean sheets, but they were nearly all the far side of 30. Despite the fact that at Monaco he had signed the 32-year-old Patrick Battiston, Wenger believed that that was precisely the age a footballer could no longer hack it at the top.
Adams, who was pushing 30, recalls: "He would say things like, 'Physically a professional footballer is finished when they are over 30. It is not possible to play at that age.' He believed that players over 30 were dead. Steve Bould, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn proved him wrong. They proved that with desire, commitment, and by looking after themselves, they could play well into their 30s at the top level. He acknowledged that and let them do it instead of getting rid of them. If you are in a beautiful house you don't go moving to a terrace. That's what he realised."
Wenger encouraged all his foreign players to learn English, the language in which he gave team talks. But the training ground was further gallicised by the hiring of Boro Primorac and a coterie of drop-in French health and fitness gurus - Yann Rougier, a specialist in dietary supplements, his assistant Hervé Castel, and osteopath Philippe Boixel.
They were a colourful bunch. One of Dr Rougier's other business ventures was the marketing of a herbal remedy to enhance sexual performance. Boixel specialised in a very French and not always scientific brand of lateral-thinking cures when faced with a complex injury problem. In an effort to cure troublesome Achilles tendon injuries, players might have the alignment of their wisdom teeth checked by x-ray or tomatoes removed from their diets.