Caviar and Sausages – Wenger’s reign fully documented by a lifelong Arsenal fan

From ‘Arsène Who?’ in 1996 to ‘Wenger Out’ in 2018


I was kindly sent a copy of a book written by Tony Kokkinos called “Caviar and Sausages: Arsenal in the Time of Wenger” and asked to review it.

The subject is Arsene Wenger’s whole tenure in North London detailing every season of his 22 years in charge of Arsenal.

Where some gooners break Wenger’s reign down into two parts, this editor divides the Frenchman’s journey into three periods – the Glory Years, the Austerity Years and the Stagnating Years.

In 1998, Arsène Wenger reacted to Arsenal fans’ groans by famously saying, “If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages.”

For those who lived it, it’s fun to reminisce about happier times. For those slightly newer to following the Gunners, they could benefit from being educated about the job Mr. Wenger did in England.

If you’re not old enough to remember, graphs will show you who was our first 11, top scorer, etc. yearly.

Of course you know the story has an unhappy ending but that can’t be blamed on the writer.

I can’t stress enough that this is more than a Wikipedia entry of a quick summary of the 22 campaigns of our greatest ever manager. The level of detail is amazing, fresh with graphics and anecdotes.

There is a key system where certain icons represent their own meanings.

It’s like the author has every paper clipping from 1996 – 2018 or simply is an avid fan with a photographic memory.

It’s worth stressing that the editor grew up in Islington, attended his first live match in 1977 and was present at Wembley for the ‘Five Minute Final‘ so is passionate about what he writes about.

A lot of patient research has gone into reviewing each season, such as 9 players missing pens in one campaign or no player in Prem history getting more red cards then Vieira.

Credit to him for being impartial while presenting facts, it’s hard to discern if this is a man who was in the ‘Arsene Out Brigade’ or thinks the 62-year deserved better.

It’s simply factual for example that at one point Mr. Wenger was the master of finding value in the market and turning potential disaster losses into positives, e.g. how he replaced Petit, Overmars and Anelka.

Nor is it inaccurate to stress how many talents he taught new positions to, such as turning Lauren into a right back or Kolo Touré a centreback.

Nor how having to play early Champions League fixtures at Wembley was the first indication that we could fill a bigger stadium then Highbury but equally couldn’t replicate that atmosphere.

He does give his point of views in terms of signings he feels were good, bad or quite simply strange.

Lists like this are a nice extra touch, as are memorable Wenger quotes which at his very best are gems.

When asked once had Spurs closed the gap on Arsenal. he gave this response, ‘last time I checked, they were still four miles away and 11 titles away.’

I personally liked information gathered that proved how much he did to make an ageing defence better on the ball and healthier off the pitch, challenging the long myth that he simply was lucky to inherit a good back 5 (he had built an entire new one by the time we went unbeaten).

I see myself as being knowledgeable about Wenger, so was happy to hear stories I had never heard before (Petit taking a taxi from Spurs to Arsenal during transfer talks) or the time that Wenger ‘lost his rag at half time’, also sad stats such as Bergkamp refusing to ever take a penalty again after the 1999 FA Cup Semi Final.

Stories newer fans will find insightful are included, such as the day Ian Wright argued with fans at Highbury, or Arsene Wenger confronting reporters due to mean spirited rumours.

There are thought-provoking snippets such as how Diawara would have become a cult hero had he not hit the bar and had a shot cleared off the line at Elland Road on the night we surrendered our initiative in the 1999 title race.

Anyone who can take time to reference a player who only ever made three starts, you know hasn’t rushed their work.

It’s always fun to read how Stepanovs passed a trial.

There’s less details about controversial topics such as Anelka’s departure, but maybe it’s smart not to revisit tales your audience will be aware of.

It’s strange to read that 2nd was once considered an underachievement.

One small complaint would be that the writer fails to stay impartial when it’s time to call a spade a spade.

Newer fans are left thinking that there was a constant conspiracy against Arsenal and that the Gunners never benefited from a dodgy official’s decision (Pires dive against Pompey, Eboue dive in the CL Final).

It doesn’t make you less of a fan to admit that sometimes your team made a mistake (Battle of Old Trafford, Pizza Gate, etc.).

The writer goes with the policy that he feels he can’t write anything negative about Arsenal, which as someone who lived through Mr. Wenger’s entire tenure isn’t factual (and not realistic when you use common sense.)

But I must say that Tony’s effort and attention to detail is very good.

You can’t help but read about the glory years and get sad because you know what’s coming.

In that sense it’s like reading a great fairytale but in the back of your mind you are aware that it ends sadly.

Again that’s not Mr. Kokkinos’ fault.

If there is a moral of the whole piece, it’s that it’s best to appreciate what you have and don’t take anything for granted.

Well worth the read in my opinion….


I have a copy to give away (UK only)..

ARSENAL V INTER MILAN Cancelled – Predictions now are for Arsenal v Chelsea

Just give me your score prediction for Arsenal v Inter Milan next week in the Florida Cup. In case of a tie, please also predict what min the first goal is going to be scored.

You can purchase “Caviar and Sausages” at Amazon on this link.

Or if you prefer you can buy “Caviar and Sausages” direct from the Author here…

Be Kind in The Comments




  1. Excellent book review Dan and I’ve just read the opening few pages on Amazon and am hooked already and it’s on order. I was one of the many fans who said Arséne who? We soon came to see he was a genius.
    My prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Inter. Yes optimistic 😳
    First goal by us 6 minutes 47 seconds.

  2. Wenger is right about caviar and sausages. According in 2018, he was paid 8 M per year, to make sure we eat caviar every season

    He revolutionized English football by introducing his positional play, before other managers cracked and copied it. Unfortunately, his system didn’t evolve

    1. GAI, no he wasn’t paid £8,000,000 every year, let’s get the facts correct.

      Have ordered my copy via Amazon and there are only six left!!!!!!!
      Arsenal 2 – Inter 2
      First goal 17 minutes.

      Let’s hope THIS book gives the supporters a real chance to agree on what AW’s legacy really is.

        1. As AW was on a reported salary of £500,000 a year when he first joined the club, I would suggest that the £8,000,000 a year you quote is a gross overstatement.
          The last contract he signed was, indeed, the reported figure you quote.
          BUT it was for his last two years only.

          Does that make it any clearer GAI?

  3. This sounds like a book worth reading and I will be reading it.

    You can count how many times Arsenal have benefitted from referees mistakes (bias) but the times we have been the victim are countless.

  4. Arsenal 2 v 1 Inter. 1st goal 44min

    Great reminiscing and nice review Dan. Remembering the quality of our football in those days makes me want to see that amazingly potent, yet creative dance football, back where it belongs.

  5. i just love the way a few arsenal fans are living in the past still. they will never give up the hope that mr.wenger will come back someday.he was a genius , there is no doubt. he was a genius for the first ten years, there is no doubt.after 2006 he gave not a hoot , but, collected his salary as if he was the most important man in this my humble opinion, we are now reaping the benefits of his total mismanagement of our once proud football club.oh well, nice work, if you can get it. good luck to the old french goat.

    1. Gerry, respect your opinion, but I haven’t read any post in this article (and probably less than ten overall) where any supporter hopes Arsene Wenger will return – his time as manager of The Arsenal has gone.
      What many fans have suggested, however, is that he returns in a role similar to that of Alex Ferguson, having been the most succesful and well paid manager at The Arsenal.
      As for his total mismanagement since 2006, we all have our own opinions, but I just hope MA can match AW’s results.

          1. KEN1955, i did not say i disagree with anything you have said sir, thank you for not trying to put words in my mouth, have a great day.

          2. KEN for the little it is worth , my view of AW’s 22 year stay is half way between yours and Gerrys. I have always said his decline began the day DD was ousted and stand by that.

            I still revere AW as a man and always will; just that his managership and sense of direction for the teams future markedly declined since DD left.

            In my fantasy world – even realists can fantasise but we do it privately – AW would be our owner AND run FIFA!

            Along with Bob Wilson and DD, Arsene will always remain the most revered human being in my Arsenal history. I say this despite my constant criticism of his later years failing as manager and I wish to put the record fully straight.

            I know that as a mature man you will understand my position though many still choose to still misinterpret my long held view.
            I also agree that few if any Gooners are calling for his return as manager right now (I think actually there are two names who are but let that pass).

          3. Well I’m pleased you agree with me then Gerry and I hope you have many nice days.
            Jon, I do understand your views and who can argue with your main thrust?
            I wonder if you were able to read my reply to you regarding kronkie backing MA to the hilt?
            Would like to know your thoughts and response.

          4. i suppose, KEN1955 ,we will agree to disagree on mr.wenger.i did idolise the man, as did all arsenal fans, and all football fans, too.but we will agree to disagree in a friendly and sporting way.heres hoping to some good signings and a good start to the upcoming season.

    2. 2007 – 2016 was the best Wenger years in terms of beautiful football. Many confuse winning trophies with beautiful football. All Wenger years delivered that but the post-invincibles era is unmatched in terms of beauty (the peak being 07/08 season). Not even Guardiola’s City has. Arsenal 07/08 was so sleak, fast and fluid. Watching them was orgasmic. Injuries ruined the crown of an EPL trophy for that season.

    3. Gerry, I agree with ken1945; Dan has provided a book review from his perspective, nothing more, nothing less.

  6. “The hostility of a section of the fans and the board was unjustified. I felt as if I’d built the training centre and the stadium myself brick by brick … it was very hard, very brutal. Arsenal was a matter of life and death to me, and without it there were some very lonely, very painful moments” said by the man, who I admire very very much.

    For me Arsene and Arsenal are two similar words. He is the real owner of Arsenal FC in my heart.
    (Just want to express my humble opinion)

  7. Great title which just about sums up the two distinct periods of the Wegner era. I haven’t read the book yet to discuss it, but beyond Wegner even the sausages have gone from prime gourmet Italian to whatever the butcher has left over.

    1. Mine is arriving tomorrow Declan – perhaps Admin could provide an article about the fan’s views at a later date?

      1. Hi KEN. Ref. to your comment above on my view on “Kroenke backing MA to the hilt”. I did answer your post on that thread and said I DO NOT THINK SK has backed MA to the hilt, though he clearly has backed him somewhat.

        I also said that both Kroenkes were thoroughly spooked by DANIEL EKs bid AND the mass fan protest against the doomed Euro Super league obscenity . AND that this so called fan advisory board – which I REGARD AS A CHARADE- is simply as a panicked reaction to ALL Gooners utter hatred of Kroenke, almost everywhere worldwide.

        I do not see SK EVER backing our club properly, but just enough so that we do not lose our investment value to SK.

        I have never believed and never will that leopards change their spots. This principle applies to Guendouzi’s arrogant attitude too, BTW!

  8. i suppose, KEN1955 ,we will agree to disagree on mr.wenger.i did idolise the man, as did all arsenal fans, and all football fans, too.but we will agree to disagree in a friendly and sporting way.heres hoping to some good signings and a good start to the upcoming season.

  9. Thanks for taking ten years off my life Gerry (1945-1955🔟😂😂😂) and I agree that we will always disagree, but life goes on…. As for new signings, we have just announced Sam I, so MA is addressing the areas needed and kronkie is supporting him… what more can we ask for?

    1. 73 million spent so far when white signs ken.
      So 3 players in on top of 4 last season which came in at around 80 million so like you said no more myths about him not being backed and no more cringe excuses if things go pear shaped .
      The most important season in our clubs history in the last 30 years ,get it wrong and we could be looking at us being in the wilderness for a long time ,this squad as I said last season was good enough to be fighting too 4 so the extra additions this season again we should be aiming for that .
      Anything less should be the end of Laurel and hardy.

    2. KEN1945, I do apologise for making you younger, 1955 is my birth year, in fact, i am so sorry.i always think that debate is healthy, structured debate that is. the only problem that i have is that i cannot seem to write down what i am actually thinking , and i think i come across as being a bit of a trouble maker. i can tell you that there is nothing further from the truth.even my school teac hers said that of me .. heres to a wonderful season of football, i yearn to see the early wenger football again, maybe someday.

  10. As for me, as far as a food preference is concerned, I would not pass up a good sausage to eat caviar, even though I love seafood.
    The highest compliment paid to Arsene Wenger and his best Arsenal teams is that Sir Alex Ferguson openly admitted that Manchester United tried to kick Arsenal off the park, because they couldn’t match them playing football. Even then Arsenal managed to finish on top.
    Strong winning mentality is the main ingredient Arsenal has lost; having clubs beaten before they walk out of the tunnel, confidence in yourself and your team mates, but not arrogance, strength of character, commitment, personal professional pride and pride in the badge, the shirt and Arsenal FC.

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