Jump to content

Arsenal


cubeadvance
 Share

Recommended Posts

The way he's gone about it certainly isn't filling me with confidence and it just seems like a load of PR from where I'm sat. I find it very difficult to believe Vieira and to some extent Henry would be part of it too. Big Pat has been firmly part of the City machine in his post-playing days and incredibly distant from the club, and Henry wants to be a head coach so it makes zero sense to be on this theoretical board at Arsenal. Swapping one billionaire for another shouldn't be anyone's ambition because there's looming problems for all clubs that it won't solve. In any case I think Kroenke would sooner use the ground as a mausoleum for his withered corpse like that nutcase Nicholas van Hoogstraten than sell it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the team had played their hearts out and missed chance after chance I'd be gutted, but we were shit the whole game and created next to nothing. I was all for giving Arteta another season, but honestly with performance's like this what's the point? Even more depressing is the owners do not give a shit so nothing will happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its very easy to not give a shout about Arsenal these days, what with how performances have been and the stuff that's gone on in the wider scheme of things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember being genuinely nervous all week leading up to these sort of games in the past and I really miss that. I think the knowledge that we were almost certainly going to go through the motions like we did last night, the contempt the club has for its fans, not being able to go to the ground and the lack of direction we have in general just makes it impossible to get emotionally invested in it. What if we did win it? We'd only waste all the money anyway. Arteta and Edu's recruitment has been dreadful and KSE haven't the first clue about how to run a football club. 

 

It's easy to look back and criticise, but every major decision we've made as a club in the last 15 years has been wrong. Clung to Wenger for too long and missed out on the next generation of elite manager as a result. Terrible squad management and recruitment. Went all in on sterile Pep-lite possession based football which is completely out of fashion. All the while taking a big shit on the fans by expelling them from any semblance of ownership of the club and coming up with such wit as "thank you for taking an interest in our club." Honestly, the biggest emotion I have is just sadness. 

 

Arteta can stay or go, who really cares? We're at a point now where the spiral is almost irresistible. Through years of mismanagement we've practically made it impossible for ourselves to compete again. I'm just a bit insulted that the club expects me to still care.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

On the plus side this run hasn't cost me a few hundred quid in tickets and travel.

 

Think I'll cheer myself up and start composing my reply to the Arsenal box office when the season ticket renewals get issued - I am not just going to just let them lapse, I want them to at least see the reason why I am not renewing them. Won't achieve anything of course but its worth doing for my own peace of mind.  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fairly bleak article from Amy Lawrence in The Athletic this morning. Seems like a total shambles behind the scenes, although this is hardly a surprise. The only good news is that Luiz and Willian look like they want out. And that Tierney is getting a new contract.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was just coming in to share the article, does indeed paint a bleak picture - the keeper situation remains a joke, after the debacle with Fabianski & Szczesny we appear to have let another good keeper leave in Martinez to be left with the disinterested wanting out Leno. Not only that but recall Fabianski & Szczesny blaming the poor coaches at the club and we're doing it again. 

 

It doesn't pain a picture here that we're going to turn a corner.

 

 

Spoiler

With a strained and flawed season almost over, it is no shock to find morale is low among the staff at Arsenal.

Quite apart from what’s happening on the pitch, off it the mood has been badly hit. The 55 redundancies that took place last summer were not the end of that particular story. The threat has been ongoing, and more jobs have been culled recently.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s continuing restructuring sees a headhunting firm employed to recruit for a reshaped scouting team, which was decimated around the time of the first tranche of redundancies. The club seem to be saving money in some departments while spending heavily in others, which is perhaps the way it goes when there is no obvious solid plan to repair some of the damage from the past few years of changeable management.

A lack of expertise with any kind of track record of success behind them is costing Arsenal.

The latest in a series of remodelled executive structures has three men in charge of the main strands of the club operation day-to-day: manager Mikel Arteta looks after the first team and coaching staff; technical director Edu is in charge of recruitment; chief executive Vinai Venkatesham has the reins of the business side of the club. This untried trio have very senior responsibility. By the nature of their appointment — only Edu had any experience of the sharp end of football decision-making, though that was not in European football — their successes or mistakes would all be learned on the job.

That kind of risk might have paid the most sensational dividends. But right now it feels like they could all do with some help, some know-how to lean on, while the pressure mounts.

The alarm bell for many managers — including Arteta’s predecessor and recent Europa League conqueror, Unai Emery — is losing the support of the dressing room. It has not sounded yet: Arteta still retains support from the majority of the squad. Certain individuals have even sought assurances that the Spaniard would be kept on before entering into negotiations on a new contract.

To the surprise and occasional consternation of frustrated entourages and families, many players remain loyal to the manager and continue to hold him in high regard, despite results, including the deflating way they were knocked out of the Europa League semi-final against Emery’s Villarreal.

Some have described Arteta as being able to foster a “cult-like” devotion from certain sections of the squad.

His man-management, however, is beginning to show cracks. When it comes to some of the senior players, the situation is more complex, more delicate.

When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang extended his contract last summer, his affinity with Arteta was one of the key factors in his decision to stay. Aubameyang was said to be under the new manager’s spell — Arteta was even pictured at the striker’s house to mark the contract’s signing. That spell appears to have has lost some of its potency, and this difficult season has seen that relationship tested to a far greater extent.

More broadly, Arteta’s approach to press conferences has occasionally ruffled feathers: there has been a clamour for more honesty, less hubris. “Too much of what Mikel says publicly is not true,” says one Arsenal insider. “We can all see what is happening on the pitch and he should have spoken the truth: we did not deserve to reach the final. That’s the reality.”

There are other rumblings of discontent. Staff are under the impression that at least five senior players — David Luiz, Willian, Bernd Leno, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin — want to leave the club.

Given the nature of their performances this season, Arsenal fans won’t shed many tears over some of those names. Part of this is a natural, necessary churn — a need to rebuild around a new core of young players. Given the financial constraints the club are operating under, there’s also an economic imperative behind some of these potential exists. These players are among Arsenal’s top earners.

Change is necessary, but so is balance and experience. The departures of the likes of Xhaka, Leno and Bellerin and Luiz would mean the loss of some of the more prominent dressing-room voices. A squad already criticised for lacking in leaders might look even more callow after the summer.

Arteta and Edu view the “Hale End generation”, along with more experienced professionals such as Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers, as key elements of their future squad. Tierney is likely to be rewarded with a new contract soon to reflect that. There are other young players, however, who are likely to leave: Reiss Nelson seems primed for a departure and Eddie Nketiah’s contract situation is also no closer to being resolved, with the deal due to expire next year, meaning he may be sold.

On the technical side, some of Arteta’s decisions have prompted surprise, such as using Emile Smith Rowe as a “false nine” in the first leg against Villarrealand not substituting Dani Ceballos after he was booked in the same game, only for the Spaniard to be sent off shortly after. When it came to last week’s European exit in the second leg, the dependency on Xhaka in the left-back role was concerning. What’s more, if he was so important, why was he not rested in the preceding game against Newcastle? Xhaka was the only player to play 90 minutes away to both Villarreal and Newcastle. Citing his absence as the crucial factor in Arsenal’s Europa League exit felt like another example of Arteta muddying the waters in front of the media.

Questions are also being asked of Arteta’s coaching appointments.

The credibility of his goalkeeping coach, Inaki Cana, was damaged by his recommendation of the little-used, so far unimpressive Alex Runarsson. With Leno’s form also now dipping, there is concern among the playing staff about Cana’s suitability for the role.

Two other popular goalkeeping coaches, Sal Bibbo and Andy Woodman, have been moved on, seemingly to grant Cana license to remodel the department. Given the concerns over Runarsson and other aspects, affording a coach that degree of autonomy has raised alarm.

Last summer, Arteta was provided resources to bring in two additional first-team coaches. While fans hoped he might add more experience to his backroom team, he opted for two junior coaches in Carlos Cuesta and Miguel Molina. It was effectively a vote of confidence from Arteta in his original staff; a statement that ensured the hierarchy remained unchallenged. It was perhaps an opportunity missed.

Perhaps Arteta’s decision to appoint younger coaches was informed by his desire to consolidate power. Having worked under Arsene Wenger, and then alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, he is said to have an intuitive understanding of what is required to grow authority in a football club. Arteta knows that having a wide set of responsibilities is what enables a coach to wield influence. Ultimately, that’s why the promotion from head coach to manager appealed — Arteta did not want to be managed, he wanted to manage.

Even at the time, fresh off the back of last season’s FA Cup final win, the decision to change Arteta’s job title was met with some internal opposition. While some regarded it as a mere formality, others saw it as a regressive step. After Wenger’s 2018 departure, Arsenal had tried to move away from a model which was overly dependent on any one individual. That is partly why, under head of football Raul Sanllehi, they adopted a continental-style structure with a technical director and head coach. Sanllehi and Edu were both big advocates of this progressive hierarchy, and Arteta’s job title would not have been changed if Sanllehi had remained at the helm.

Defeat to Villarreal put the lid on a dismal, trophyless season for Arsenal (Photo: John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

It’s difficult to know how much, if at all, Arteta’s de facto promotion may have inadvertently impacted the team. It’s unlikely to have had a direct effect on results, even if the “head coach” role is designed to allow the team’s trainer to focus predominantly on the short-term — matches and results.

Perhaps the biggest issue is where it leaves the club.

The post-Wenger organisational structure was designed partly to make coaches more expendable — to ensure continuity and long-term planning survived managerial change. The more power Arteta consolidates, the more daunting a task the board may consider replacing him to be.

When it comes to managerial influence, the club are in danger of going full circle. Arsenal may well end up back where they started.

Fixing Arsenal is likely to be expensive.

If the club are to spend in the upcoming summer transfer window, the likelihood is they will require the support of the owners. While it’s hoped Arsenal can raise funds through player trading, it is expected to be a difficult market. After a year of devastating financial losses due to the pandemic, and in the wake of irate fan protests, it is perhaps more imperative than ever that the Kroenkes invest.

The issue, then, is whether it’s right to entrust whatever funds can be made available to the manager and technical director. Thus far, Edu’s squad-building strategy has yet to convince.

Last summer’s was a difficult window. Arsenal suffered the financial impact of COVID-19, as well as a bout of instability at executive level. There were, however, conspicuous failures: for much of the season, the three-year contract awarded to a 32-year-old Willian has felt about three years too long. The failure to organise young defender William Saliba’s loan back to France created an unnecessary issue between club and player. Their €50 million marquee signing Thomas Partey has impressed in spells, but niggling injuries have prevented the club from extracting full value.

January offered more hope: the sensible addition of Mat Ryan cancelled out the signing of Runarsson. The acquisition of Martin Odegaard on loan was a considerable coup. Edu worked tirelessly behind the scenes to move players on, agreeing departures for Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi. A similar task awaits the Brazilian in the forthcoming window.

For now, much of the recruitment happening at Arsenal is taking place behind the scenes.

After the dissolution of the previous scouting regime, Edu is beginning to flesh out his own team. While members of the previous set-up, such as Francis Cagigao, Peter Clark and Brian McDermott, were hired based on reputation or personal connection within football circles, Arsenal have instructed recruitment firm Nolan Partners to help them identify a new generation of scouts.

The intention is to have people on the ground in strategic locations to build contacts and identify talent before it would otherwise be picked by data. Jobs Arsenal are seeking to fill include a UK scout, and European youth scouting roles. Intriguingly, the first stage of the recruitment process saw prospective scouts asked to prepare analysis of Joe Willock’s current successful loan spell at Newcastle, as well as relegated Sheffield United’s Norwegian midfielder Sander Berge.

Any new scouts will come too late to have an impact in the forthcoming transfer window. The summer plans are already in place — and after such a disappointing campaign, Edu finds himself under inevitable scrutiny.

In recent seasons, Arsenal’s squad-building has seen them attempt to offset youthful promise against experience. For every Luiz, there has been a Tierney. For every Willian, a Martinelli. The intention has been to strike a necessary balance — to cover long-term aspirations and short-term priorities. Ultimately, this strategy has proved incoherent. Arsenal have operated like a club hedging their bets, failing to commit properly to the requisite rebuild.

However, the club insist they are working through the remoulding systematically. An Arsenal spokesperson said: “Obviously we’re all disappointed at the way the season has panned out and on missing out on European football for the first time in 25 years. However, when Mikel joined us we knew it would take time to build the squad and get to the levels we all want. We have been working this through methodically and have been clear that this will continue during the summer transfer window. Our ambition and that of our owners is clear — to put Arsenal back at the top of the game.”

This summer, the club intend to predominantly target players in the lower age range. Hamstrung by expensive commitments to the likes of Willian and Aubameyang, that’s partly an act of necessity.

Elsewhere, Edu retains responsibility for overseeing and appointing backroom staff. The addition of Nick Court as a first-team physio, from Bournemouth, has been short-lived — he departed within a matter of months.

Edu’s decision to add Bruno Mazziotti to the performance team has already proved somewhat divisive.

Mazziotti was hired on a short-term, but well-paid contract in late 2020. His addition was designed in part to provide a Latin presence among the medical staff after the departure of Paulo Barreira. His methods and uncompromising manner, however, have not always won favour with existing staff at London Colney. His contract expires at the end of the season, and for now his future is uncertain. Mazziotti would doubtless contend he’s trying to implement cultural change in an environment becoming notable for endemic underperformance.

There is a tension at play between the old Arsenal, and the new.

Edu will soon be able to call upon the support of Richard Garlick, the club’s incoming director of football operations. Garlick, who previously held a similar role at West Bromwich Albion, will provide Edu with support on contractual matters, replacing Huss Fahmy, who left the club late last year. Garlick was actually one of the candidates interviewed for the position when Fahmy joined Arsenal in 2017.

In a club where so many staff have been stripped out in the name of efficiency, Garlick’s addition could be significant. It may be a healthy thing for Arsenal if Edu steps away from the negotiating table — if the club separates the technical decisions from the financial and legal ones.

A word of caution, however: part of the reason Fahmy left was his influence within the club being diminished by Edu’s expanding role. The former Arsenal midfielder is insistent all recruitment conversations flow directly through him. He has placed himself above the parapet.

Edu is the man responsible for reshaping this squad — but must also bear some responsibility for the shape it is currently in.

The morning after the night before, Arsenal’s hierarchy sought to reassure and boost the men in the firing — or more accurately, miles away from the firing — line.

Arteta and Edu both attended meetings intended to lift them in their hour of need. However crushed they might have felt by the Villarreal semi-final defeat the previous evening, the powers that be wanted them to feel wanted and very much central to future plans.

Outside the football club bubble, it is reasonable to wonder about the general sense of accountability at Arsenal and who takes the lead on that. These are not issues that crop up when a team are performing well. But when there is underperformance, it’s necessary to scrutinise. Otherwise, the buck doesn’t stop anywhere and a culture of mediocrity is allowed to aimlessly drift.

At the very top, of course, is owner Stan Kroenke, and his son Josh.

Their approach has always been to put people in place to run the club, and offer the backing and support reasonably expected of them. Most owners nowadays are not significantly more hands-on than that. So it then falls to the senior executives to perform. But where are the checks? Who is vetting big decisions? Is there enough high-calibre know-how to judge the calls being made by Arteta and Edu in terms of team management and recruitment, and Venkatesham in overseeing overall club matters?

That trio all lack a major track record in their own roles, but the structure at the club is designed to take it on trust that they are calling things right. While it is understood that there is a lot more rebuilding to do on the squad and finances are drastically affected by the pandemic, the sporting baseline — the position of the team right now — suggests there should be an inquest.

While it is in a way admirable for Arsenal to provide backing immediately after the season’s ambitions collapsed during a poorly-executed Europa League semi-final, who at the club has the expert football knowledge to properly analyse what went wrong in this campaign, why it did, and how to engineer improvement? Who can assess the reasons, listen to the explanations and plans from Arteta and Edu, and decide the best way to go?

Arsenal haven’t won the title since 2004 (Photo: Sean Dempsey – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

CEO Venkatesham does not have the credentials. Nor does Tim Lewis, recently appointed to the board and now the major go-between linking all matters Arsenal to their owners in the US.

It is almost a year since Lewis was brought onto the board. A long-time fan of the club, partner with the law firm Clifford Chance, and trusted representative of Stan Kroenke’s interests in London, Lewis has taken to the role with gusto. His first notable act was to assess the role of Sanllehi as part of a broader examination of recruitment and use of resources. Sanllehi was gone within weeks.

Lewis’s input felt refreshing — instilling a bit of ruthlessness and sending the message that senior figures who were too comfortable in their roles would be unwise to feel so — but the make-up of the current board, allied to the group of inexperienced heads in top positions, still lacks the depth and variety of expertise that Arsenal need to re-spark the club’s operation.

The current, recently compressed, board comprises Kroenke senior and junior, their new appointment Lewis, and Phil Harris, who is the sole link to the old custodian board that predates the Kroenkes’ involvement with the club.

Harris was behind the proposal to bring David O’Leary onto the board not long ago. His wish was to introduce some footballing oversight to have a say and keep an eye on recruitment and O’Leary, who is well connected and brings the football nous and Arsenal heart he accrued while becoming the club’s record appearance holder during 722 games then managing Leeds United and Aston Villa, remains his solid choice, to both support and challenge the men steering the ship.

When O’Leary was first proposed, the idea was knocked back by personnel who were reluctant to have their work scrutinised and preferred more autonomy in terms of decision making. Whether that sentiment prevails now is an interesting point. It is definitely an idea worth revisiting and Harris remains as keen as ever for more football oversight at a time when Arsenal need to be busy — but also very shrewd — in the market. They cannot afford more wastage on expensive fees and salaries for players who struggle to make a consistent impact in the manner of recent years.

This idea has been thrown back into focus by the proposed takeover bid from Spotify mogul Daniel Ek, who has formed an alliance with three Invincibles, with Thierry Henry the most vocal thus far. The longer the club goes on searching for answers, the more momentum the idea of “Arsenal DNA” being part of the running of the club gains. The Kroenkes, meanwhile, are going nowhere: as recently as Monday, Arsenal employees were assured in an all-staff call the owners have no intention of selling. More fan protests are anticipated at the final home game of the season, with staff and families urged not to attempt to drive into the stadium on the day and plans being formulated to ensure their safe exit after the match.

For all the issues around Sanllehi that led to his departure, there is a vacuum now in terms of seniority and know-how around recruitment.

Lewis’s role is an interesting and important one. He has taken over from Sanllehi as the main conduit between Arsenal and the Kroenkes. Matters that need their attention are generally transferred across the Atlantic via him.

For anyone with a business background who suddenly finds themselves at the heart of negotiations on football matters, getting involved and having an opinion can be irresistible, even for those who don’t necessarily have the credentials.

It is worth remembering the iconic chapter in footballer turned journalist Len Shackleton’s autobiography, entitled The Average Director’s Knowledge of Football.

One blank page told the reader everything from the point of view of an England international.

In all seriousness, though, it is foolish of Arsenal to press on without addressing the vacuum of football clout to assess and assist those running the show day-to-day. Whether it is at board level or some other form of director of football to sit above a manager, coach or technical director, that absence is a worry.

Arsenal have every right to stick to the conclusion they have total faith in Arteta, Edu et al, but if they reach that decision it must be very thoroughly made.

Since the Wenger-Ivan Gazidis days, Arsenal do seem to be on a trend of appointing sequentially less experienced people.

It was Gazidis who brought in Sanllehi, then promoted him, with Venkatesham (even though neither had previously been in such a high position before) to replace him as chief executive. Gazidis oversaw the committee that appointed Emery but also was a big supporter of Arteta. Gazidis also during his tenure grew a lot of bloated departments which the club have tried to streamline of late with the redundancies.

He was the man first trusted by the Kroenkes to run the club but a lot of that damage is still being felt. There have been so many variants as Arsenal have restructured again and again at executive level since Gazidis first prepared for the post-Wenger age.

It seems they have still not found the balance they need to be successful. The missing ingredient appears to be elite football experience, with perhaps a sprinkling of understanding of what once made Arsenal great. There are those within the club that are hopeful that message is finally getting through.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My worry is that Arteta seems to be turning on some of the players – which they absolutely deserve by the way – it's just you cannot do that at this level anymore. It's all well and good trying to instil some discipline into the squad, but we're running a football team not a home for delinquent youths. Pepe was an absolute clown to get sent off earlier in the season, but the way he had the bus backed over him was terrible. I think he was a waste of money, but he hasn't let his head go down and has actually contributed pretty well this season in the end. I think that says more about his character than any motivation he might have received from a public dressing down. 

 

The bottom line is Arteta isn't a good enough coach or had the success to alienate the players at this stage of his career. All this talk of investment is a red herring as anyone with eyes can see we've pissed away huge amounts of money on dross. If he's trying to manoeuvre himself onto the side of the fans and put the pressure on KSE I think he's playing a game that will see him booted by November.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting that article, some interesting stuff in there. So David Luiz, Willian, Bernd Leno, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin all want out OR do the club want them out? Either way I would not be too sad to see them any of them leave TBH. We have a fantastic crop of young players coming in from the academy and I think most fans would rather see them in the squad than the like of Xhaka and Willian. Whether Arteta is the right coach is highly debatable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a hell of alot of words to basically keep saying "there's not enough high level experience within all aspects of the decision making processes at Arsenal"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Football is not different to any other walk of life in that you pay for carrying inexperienced in your organisation initially, whatever it is, they are a drain on experienced hands and make mistakes.

 

The hope is that as they find they feet and gain experience you get a better more rounded person that stands on their own feet and produces whatever it is you do.

 

In that case we may have paid the entry fee with Arteta in this season, and he's ready to flourish. Or he's just not very good or not good enough for what we need. From what the Kroenke's are briefing journo's we'll find out at he's not going anywhere. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've heard James from Gunnerblog say this a lot, that we're paying an inexperience tax at the moment and we'll hopefully reap the benefits shortly. I think there's several things wrong with that sort of logic. Chief amongst them is that you don't often learn on the job in the most important position in a company. You hire young enthusiastic people as they'll work hard and are full of ideas, but you don't put them in charge of anything as they don't know what they're doing. I think worse than that is that they don't even know what they don't know. It's not like he's improving either. We've not even arrested the slide yet. Even with simple things like substitutions he's stuck rigidly to a method that isn't working and has continued to pick players who let him down time and again. The squad is unbalanced clearly, but he's never helped himself by playing everyone out of position all the time. People like Chambers who have one good game are then undroppable for whatever reason. Xhaka at left back. Smith-Rowe as a nine. If there's a logic I'm not seeing it.

 

Really the only argument for getting a complete beginner is because they're cheap, which speaks of a complete failure of imagination to me. It's not even like the ambition was ever to win anything, it's literally to get top 6 and make some money again. We're nowhere close to having the structure to achieve anything like that because we tear it all up every few months.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.