Published Originally on Arsenal Review – and adapted.
Towards the end of the underwhelming 2016-17 season, Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis moved to placate the growing unrest amongst supporters, with comments touching upon the need for change if Arsenal were to move forward.
Gazidis touched upon how disappointing the campaign had been, and how there was a real ‘catalyst for change’ amongst everyone at the club. So fans could have been forgiven for thinking that there would be a freshening up of the staff, a changing of the guard if you will. Something that may give Arsene Wenger a differing view.
Well, the recent news coming from Arsenal definitely has a whiff of the Tories during the General Election.
Strong and stable seems to be the order of the day rather than the winds of change, as Arsenal have announced that Gerry Peyton, Boro Primorac, Neil Banfield, Tony Colbert and Steve Bould will all be offered contract extensions. This means that along with Arsene Wenger staying for another two years – exactly nothing will have changed despite Gazidis’ promises to the contrary – or so we thought initially.
After last season’s fifth placed finish, it showed that Arsenal had fallen behind the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea – and even worse, Tottenham – by quite some distance. From the months of January through till April, the Gunners were battered from pillar to post and slumped down the league table. The now customary Champions League exit was delivered with aplomb by Bayern Munich, and things were looking bleak at The Emirates.
Ivan Gazidis’s comments were meant to apply a salve of sorts, to soothe irate Gooners who could see quite painfully our rivals driving off into the distance. The regime needed to adapt or to be replaced. Arsenal’s Chief Executive could recognise the bubbling undercurrent of dissatisfaction was rising to higher levels than ever seen before. We all thought his comments were hollow at first, but brick by brick, we are seeing that behind the scenes, Arsenal may be taking a different tack.
Did Gazidis and the Board actually have intent to push through changes, and that if Wenger wanted to continue in the job, he would have to adapt?
We will surely never know, but winning the FA Cup will have reminded the Board that Wenger continues to be able to do the job.
What is now clear is that our whilst our rivals will look to improve their squads with the mountains of cash provided by the TV rights deal, our own squad must also be boosted.
Wenger has started early in that respect, bringing in highly rated Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac and record signing Alexandre Lacazette, but there is still much work to do. The news will continue to dole out rumours and speculation about targets, but Arsenal need something new if they are to claw themselves back into contention – after being so far away from the top in the last campaign.
Worries in previous seasons about the fitness regime at London Colney, reports about Gerry Peyton clashing with our goalkeepers. All of this may or may not be true, but after twenty one years of this regimen – we can say that this setup now needs to be reworked.
There was a reshuffle of sorts a few seasons ago with the appointment of fitness guru Shad Forsythe who had previously worked with the German international team, but Tony Colbert still resides in his position. Whether this correlates to Arsenal’s annual injury woes is inconclusive, but it is yet another stick on the bonfire.
Gerry Peyton has been goalkeeping coach since Wenger joined the club, and Boro Primorac was rumoured to be taking a Head Coach role somewhere in Europe, but both will be at the club next season.
Much has been made of Steve Bould’s role as Assistant Manager. The former Gunners defensive stalwart has been credited by some players as the reason for more defensive solidarity – but his muted appearances in the Arsenal dugout have left some wondering whether his role is limited. Is Bould simply a scarecrow, designed only to stave off suggestion that Wenger’s power at Arsenal is not open to defiance? Or does Bould have more input than his silent appearances on the Arsenal bench suggest?
With the appointment of Darren Burgess freshening up the fitness side of things, former Gunner Jens Lehmann coming in to the fold as First Team Coach and now Per Mertesacker being given the role of overseeing the future of the Academy, it appears as though the penny has finally dropped. Arsenal have gone for a transfusion of sorts in a bid to meld the old with the new.
The 12th of August is nearly upon us, and Ivan Gazidis’s words now appear to have been made tangible.