Category Archives: board

The Arsenal Revolution Will Not Be Televised…

The overhaul of Arsenal behind the scenes was far more than replacing Arsene Wenger at the helm.

Our French manager had been at the tiller of our vessel for 23 years. In that time, a person gets plenty of opportunity to build their ideal environment. It was clear that Arsenal needed a fresh impetus, a new direction though. We were slowly drifting off course and an intervention was required.

It started with parts of the medical team. Shad Forsythe came in, the esteemed medical guru who worked with the World Cup winning German team. New ideas, innovative thinking – aimed at remedying a key weakness within. Forsythe was tasked with not only reducing our walking wounded, but also increasing the resistance our players had for quickfire muscle injuries. His expertise looked to be invaluable. In fact, his recruitment was a coup at the time.

By the time Wenger had left and Unai Emery had been sworn in, there had been a raft of changes – at all levels of the club.

Huss Fahmy, contracts whizz who had earned his stripes at Team Sky, was drafted in.

Our very own Per Mertesacker was tasked with overseeing the future of Arsenal on the pitch as Academy Director.

Vinai Venkatesham became our Managing Director.

There was Sven Mislintat too – the German recruitment specialist with the nickname ‘Diamond Eye’ thanks to his propensity for spotting a figurative diamond in the rough.

Perhaps seen as the key appointment though, was Raul Sanllehi as Head of Football Relations. It heralded a change of approach – and with his departure, the transformation continues as we seek to harness player data and integrate it within our recruitment process.

This roster of changes meant that behind the playing team – the Gunners were unrecognisable.

It was meant to herald a change.

Josh Kroenke told us to “Be excited.”

Arsenal new regime

 

But recently, there seem to be warning signs that the changes haven’t entirely worked out – or we expected far more than we were ever going to get.

The first alert came when Sven Mislintat left the club a year after joining.

It has since come out that Mislintat claims that the club reneged on an offer to appoint him as Technical Director. The former Head of Recruitment – now Sporting Director at VFB Stuttgart, also spoke of the way targets would be identified.

In a quote featured in The Independent, Mislintat stated “Previously we had a strong, systematic approach to transfers, a mixture of watching things live as well as quality data and video analysis – Arsenal actually own their own data company.”

He continued “That meant that we acted independently, we knew about all markets and players in all positions that came into question. However, the new leadership work more strongly with what they are offered from clubs or agents through their own networks.”

This brings us neatly to super agent Kia Joorabchian.

The man who first hit the headlines with a perplexing deal that took Argentine superstars Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez – to West Ham. Joorabchian owned the player rights – which already sounds just plain wrong – and by hawking them both around, Joorabchian allowed West Ham to get two world class players.

The agent has his fingers in many pies and it is known that our very own Raul Sanllehi prior to him leaving the Head of Football post – and our Technical Director, Edu, are close associates of his.

In regards to Mislintat’s quote, he stated that we now prefer to use agent networks to acquire our talent.

David Luiz, the still injured Cedric Soares – both are clients of the agent.

Two of the names linked heaviest with us – Chelsea’s Willian and Barca’s Philippe Coutinho? Yep, them too.

David Luiz may well have seen his best years already, but his influence on the younger players is telling. When the kids are asked who helps their development from the current squad, invariably Luiz is named. Still, we can’t reward contracts for dressing room influence, otherwise we would sign influence – otherwise we’d sign the likes of Tony Adams up to gee up the boys before games.

And while the targeting of Coutinho is unconfirmed, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that we will go in for him. Willian has signed a three year deal and Chelsea have taken the approach we used to have – over 30? Have a one year deal.

Like Mislintat said, we are now not using data and sound analysis – we are leaning heavily on agents and our links behind the scenes.

It points to our club not using their heads, and a worrisome lack of transfer identity.

We aren’t the type of club to rely on outsiders. We have the resources and the experts to identify who can strengthen us, but by using our ‘pal’ Kia, we could be left out to dry.

It isn’t just transfers either that we are floundering.

Arsenal striking prodigy Folarin Balogun is reported to be leaving the club this summer, after being disconcerted with his lack of first team opportunities. Anyone who is aware of this kid knows he has a shining future ahead of him, but Huss Fahmy has failed to tie him down to a long-term deal, with negotiations only starting this year.

And the decision to hire Unai Emery – which was made by those who are supposed to be returning Arsenal to the top of the game once again – is looking increasingly like a large error that has set us back longer than the 18 months he was at the club for.

Mikel Arteta appears to have the values of the club front and centre of his motives.

But with backroom staff seemingly out of sync and the departure of Sanllehi only the beginning of some hard graft behind the scenes, can Arteta hold out hope of seriously bringing Arsenal out of the funk any time soon?

Moving Machinery At Club Needs Time

The managerial merry-go-round that has beset Unai Emery and Arsenal is something we have not been privy to as Gooners.

With Arsene Wenger’s tenure being far longer than the average club manager, for more than two decades we watched on as the men at the helm of Europe’s top clubs were put under intense scrutiny from the moment they arrived at the training ground.

The window’s given to new appointments were made smaller and smaller. The margins for error shrunk as the money being offered for success bloated. Some spells at clubs lasted about as long as the equivalent as a period of probation does at a regular job.

We were lucky, but we all knew it would end and we would have to strap ourselves in to the ride. Unai Emery was the man tasked with seeing us through the choppy waters of transition between the old regime and the bright new dawn.

The Spaniard seemed to have all the tools at his disposal. He had enough coffers to purchase who he needed. He had a nucleus of a good squad that could compete. He had the experience necessary to oversee success.

Arsenal though, are a club in flux.

With the many new faces at the club that have arrived in the last eighteen months, it means that processes are still being ironed out. Ways of working, relationships between different facets, they are still being ironed out.

The likes of Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham, Josh Kroenke, Huss Fahmy, Darren Burgess, Edu Gaspar, Freddie Ljungberg, Per Mertesacker – all of these, plus a raft of departures – constitute change, and a requirement for trial and error. A bedding in period to smooth off the rough edges.

When we recruited Sven Mislintat, we rejoiced. The man known in his country as ‘Diamond Eye’ was a real coup and because of the breaking down of his relationship with Dortmund, Mislintat was available and we struck while the iron was hot.

It was the right move. Anyone with Mislntat in their ranks stood the chance to find some very important players. The German though, was to find that boundaries were still being drawn behind the scenes and Mislintat’s ambition would have to be kept in check if he was to stay at the club.

Mislintat wanted to be responsible for more than just talent spotting and he was thought to be favourite for the role that Edu now sits in, but it didn’t transpire.

Instead, Mislintat left the club after a very short period of time. It didn’t work out simply because things between the men who pull the strings at Arsenal are still being decided, regimes and processes need to be refined.

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For a machine to work seamlessly, the cogs that comprise the inner workings need to be aligned.

We have many cogs in our machinery. They are the right fit for Arsenal – but at this moment they are not quite in synch.

Each of the men who have been hired were recruited because they have skills we wanted.

In order for us to unwrap those skills and put them to use, we need to wait for the dust to settle and for them all to communicate. Time is the only thing that will allow us to see Arsenal operating as we – and they – know it should.

It’s frustrating, but it is something we need to endure.

Regardless of Emery being sacked and now having Freddie at the helm, we need settled regimes behind him in order to gain the best from the resources we have.

After twenty three years of serenity, changing the direction of the ship we are on was always going to take time.

Emery Sacked! Why Now And What Now?

The club could endure no more it seems.

After another defeat and the seventh consecutive failure to win a game, it seems that the loss to Eintracht Frankfurt was the last straw for the now departed Arsenal Head Coach, Unai Emery.

His tenure ended in strangely eerie circumstances. Ticket restrictions for home fans and a ban on away fans gave The Emirates a suitably soulless atmosphere, for what was yet another abject performance.

A failure to inhibit our opposition whether home or away, constant erroneous performances and our inability to recreate even a portion of the style we are branded for, accumulated on Emery’s shoulders and with every dropped point, his knees buckled further.

The club were rumoured to want to give Emery until the end of the season, but it became abundantly clear to all that Emery would have been incapable of turning around our season, so Raul Sanllehi, Edu Gaspar and Vinai Venkatesham were left with a dilemma.

Either sever ties with Unai and bring in Freddie Ljungberg on an interim basis, or stay with Unai and see how bad things could get.

Luckily, they saw sense and Emery is now a former employee of Arsenal, just 18 months after signing for the Gunners.

It seems to have been a rapidly made decision, as players were unaware that the decision had been made this morning – and so was Emery who headed training this morning as usual. The squad were called for a meeting after training to announce the decision, and the only way is up in terms of results.

Image result for emery sacked

Arsenal and Freddie now face the task of resurrecting our season, but the first step for the Super Swede will be to find our character that has made us a global brand. Coming from possibly the best team we have ever had, it should hopefully come naturally to bring back the good football that the Gunners are accustomed to.

 

 

So Emery is no more.

 

Who next for Arsenal?

Jose Is Not The Answer

Something has changed in our fanbase – and it is deeply unsettling.

During our 3-2 win over Portuguese outfit Vitoria SC in the Europa League, a picture emerged of Jose Mourinho sitting in the stands alongside Arsenal powerhouse, Raul Sanllehi.

Yep, that particular combo of people should send shivers down your spine.

Sanllehi is Arsenal’s puller of strings, the man in the know, the guy who has the golden handshake – you get my meaning. He gets stuff done and he knows who he needs to know.

Then there is Jose Mourinho. There is no other manager who has enjoyed kicking Arsenal when we have lain stricken than the self-proclaimed ‘Special One.’

The Portuguese manager in his various positions has always taken great pleasure in talking of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and our struggles in the most derogatory way. In short, he has set himself up as an enemy, and we too have relished the battle.

After his two spells with Chelsea, Mourinho has struggled quite a bit, and his tenure at Man United was a rather large blemish on his copybook. He was unable to lift the Red Devils out of the mire they were in. In fact, he was responsible for some pretty terrible recruitment and left the squad severely unbalanced, with some players left alienated by his approach.

It was quite glorious for us Gunners to see it unravelling, for the lustre that Mourinho had to be smeared.

So what has changed for a photo to leave a large portion of our support to be lusting after Jose taking charge of our side – even in the short term?

Jose at Arsenal.jpg

The photo left ripples throughout social media and sparked polls, questions and general speculation surrounding Mourinho’s presence at the game. It was the fact that he was sat next to Sanllehi that really set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Sanllehi makes decisions behind the scenes that make Arsenal tick. He was one of the men who decided on hiring current managerial incumbent, Unai Emery – and he will be one of the men who decides if Emery should leave.

So to see him next to Mourinho, a current free agent, makes it easy to put two and two together and come up with 22.

This Is a move that shouldn’t happen though.

And it probably won’t.

Jose Mourinho made a career from defensive football. Four physically imposing defenders, two diligent and uncompromising central midfielders to act as a second layer of defence. They were set in stone, difficult to crack and it was the bedrock of everything he achieved, especially at Chelsea.

There were no free-flowing goals. There was precious little buccaneering play, scant opportunity to enjoy the football on show. What he guaranteed was a win, and to make his side difficult to beat, whether it be on the road or at home.

Has it really become that bad under Emery that we would welcome this at Arsenal? Have things descended to such a level that we would want a manager who goes against Arsenal’s grain?

He is the antithesis of everything Arsenal stand for. Some will say that the football we currently play under Emery is also far removed from what we should be playing – but Emery’s football is poetry compared to the trudging football that Mourinho specialises in – just ask a United fan.

Some would say that a short-term hire of the Portuguese man would work wonders, while Sanllehi and his team work behind the scenes to get their ideal candidate.

It still is so wrong though, to want a man who talked so much trash toward us. When at the helm of a club, respect isn’t one of Mourinho’s priorities. He fosters a siege mentality at his clubs, and will do anything to come away with a win.

That is certainly not The Arsenal Way.

What we should be doing is hoping that Emery’s methods start to take. We should hope that Emery begins to get the results we all hope for. We should all hope that Emery starts to select the right team.

Jose Mourinho is not the answer to our woes – and never has been.

Dipping Into Deep Pockets – Spend Some Money!

Time for a game of ‘Spot the Difference.’

Farhad Moshiri.

David Sullivan and David Gold

The Srivaddhanaprabha family.

Stan Kroenke.

 

Any ideas?

They’re all owners of Premier League clubs.

They all enjoy an incredible bank balance.

The difference you’re looking for is that the first three have all invested plenty of their readies into their respective clubs – aside from Stan Kroenke.

In fact, Kroenke has actually taken money out of the club, as payment for consultancy fees.

The result of this lack of spending in comparison to Leicester City, Everton and West Ham is that instead of progressing with our supposed gameplan to haul Arsenal back into the big time, we could instead be battling it out with the above three teams to keep our Europa League status.

Never mind the Champions League for now. With Liverpool and Manchester City going from strength to strength, Manchester United and Chelsea not afraid to spend in the transfer window and Tottenham enjoying lucrative new incomes, Arsenal, now more than ever, have to break free from the restrictive budgets that are shackling our growth, and recognise the shifting landscape.

More clubs than ever can break the bank and land a superstar, and with West Ham signing Pablo Fornals, this is another piece of evidence to support the warning.

For just £24m, the Hammers have a Spanish international that has years ahead of him. Fornals has been a target of ours for some time, and to see him ship off to East London sticks in the craw a tad.

They also reportedly have another +£20m target in their sights from Celta Vigo, and are also after one of our other targets, Alexis Claude-Maurice from Lorient. Let’s say both of our bids are accepted – can we honestly say that we will offer more money than the Hammers?

So we will rely on our allure – the third biggest club in England, a host of domestic trophies and an attractive brand of football with a global fanbase.

Is that enough for the modern day footballer? Will it be enough to continue to snare the top talent? When they are well aware they can earn far more elsewhere – where the expectation will be lower? So they can enjoy the adulation for performing well within themselves?

How long can we continue to trade off the back of our reputation? Are we in danger of becoming a former glory – one that slumbers in the comfort of midtable as our owner cashes in and our rivals enjoy the spoils?

Kroenke 2

 

That may be an overreaction after our last season saw us miss out narrowly on both a lucrative Champions League spot and a European trophy, but you can’t deny that you’re alarmed when you see teams that don’t share our illustrious history or potential, spending shameful amounts of money that we can only dream of.

The self-sustaining model that Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi are keen for us to follow keeps us on the straight and narrow and crucially – without any dependency on our owner who could give two shiny pennies whether we win trophies or not. As long as our cash udders are ripe and producing the goods, he’ll be more than happy for the status quo to continue.

Which means we stay in limbo – not quite good enough for the Champions League, but with teams all around closing the gap.

Financial Fair Play made a mockery of our frugal approach a while back, and it will continue to ignore those teams that are spending well beyond their means – which means we will not be rewarded for our mindful approach when it comes to our balance.

We were told that whatever profit we make can be reinvested into our team. Fair enough, but with us needing a big step up from our current position in order to catch up to the rest, that requires more than what we are making right now. We need to go wild in the aisles and buy the players that makes this squad Emery’s men – rather than the majority being leftovers from the Wenger era.

We don’t want Kroenke dipping in his pockets endlessly, but we do want a fighting chance to regain our standing – and we need a bit of help for that to happen.

 

 

Old Pals Act to Help or Hinder Arteta?

It’s often said about the workplace, that having your closest people around you is a mistake. The phrase, ‘don’t sh*t on your doorstep’ can probably surmise this far better for you, but does this also apply to former players returning to the club in a coaching capacity?

Mikel Arteta is the name lined up to succeed Arsene Wenger, and the Spaniard’s lack of managerial experience will be reportedly offset by the coaching framework around him.

There are other names that are being mentioned though, that may well be as big a gamble as hiring our former player himself.

The names in the frame to form a coaching team around him are all former Gunners, could this unbalance Arteta’s own vision, which is hewn from his own experiences under other managers and styles? .

Can former teammates and ex-Gunners benefit the status quo?

Does friendship between Arteta and Mertesacker, for example, undermine any potential targets however?

It was often said about Wenger that he needed a sounding board for some of his ideas, and he needed an objective voice occasionally. Someone to allow him to see scenarios from a different set of shoes.

Is this same chemistry set to continue? Does a buddy-buddy relationship or other strong ideas about the club mean that Arteta will lack the ability to give decisions the extra thought they require from a different view?

No, quite frankly.

There may well be doubts surrounding Arteta’s capacity for this mammoth role, but hiring Santi Cazorla – as discussed before he reportedly decided to leave the club – or any other former Gunner to lend their wealth of experience can only benefit him and the players under his tutelage.

Henry, Pires, Ljungberg and BFG are also well versed in the ways of Arsenal, something that is high on the priority list for the Board.

Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires each have different likelihoods of coming in as part of the extensive team that will back up Arteta,, and each of them would be a huge plus for our side – for differing reasons.

Per Mertesacker is now our Academy man, watching over our kids as they attempt to make the grade. Freddie Ljungberg is also set to rejoin us as a coach, and both are excellent appointments.

Not only do they have the necessary badges, but they also know Arsenal and what it takes to represent us at the highest level.

Crucially though, they also love the club. Isn’t that an ingredient that is important?

Of course, we could hire some merc who has a chest full of glittering medals, but when it comes to the crunch, will they give everything? Will they go above and beyond?

Ljungberg, Henry et al would make sure our kids and our first team would play for the cannon above all else.

We shouldn’t judge these men on former coaching merits. With the likes of Mee, Graham and Wenger himself having precious little experience in the way of top flight management, we should see these appointments as the heralding of a new era, rather than a cut-price attempt at success.

Arteta in the dugout, aided and abetted by A club icon, can only help Arteta. Much the same as if he had an old hand next to him, slowly handing him the reins. Arteta needs to do this his way – and if he had an assistant manager who had seen and done it all, then that may muddy Arteta’s field of vision.

We need to take a big gamble, but if it pays off, we could enjoy a Spanish renaissance.

Friendship could just be the icing on this particular cake.

Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of current season

Arsene Wenger will part ways with Arsenal at the end of the season, the club and Wenger have confirmed today.

Wenger has been under increasing scrutiny this season as results have disappointed and our league placing has sunk lower than expectations. Fans have expressed their displeasure during this campaign by staying away and leaving the stands empty, and the overall feeling surrounding the fanbase is one of pessimism.

Media will create a froth over this for weeks to come, but we should now ensure we as Gooners create an atmosphere that is befitting for our departing boss, and one that says ‘thank you for the memories Arsene.’

What is abundantly clear is that our Board have a huge decision to make. We have seen with the fiasco of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, that getting the right man to head the transition is a difficult task indeed.

Josh Kroenke and his father Stan have the last say on who will come in, but the focus right now should not be who is the frontrunner for our managerial vacancy, it should be to make sure our current campaign ends in some semblance of of glory for Wenger, and we pay tribute in the best way – with our support.

The news of our long-standing manager departing breathes new life into the club, one of fresh promise and that of renewed optimism. Arsene Wenger is the reason for our high expectations, and the last few seasons we are well aware that we have fallen below them.

Finishing below spurs last season and now this season, we have fallen further, but now Wenger has declared the end is nigh, we can all unite to send this great man off with the respect, honour and dignity he deserves.

This declaration has come at the right time for the club, but perhaps a couple of seasons too late for Wenger. Still, now we know he’s leaving, can we focus on saying goodbye instead of looking at who is coming in?

We can all discuss who will take the helm next season, but what we should concentrate on now is making the stands roar for the last games of Wenger’s reign.

News of Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat putting forward candidates to replace Wenger were the first seeds of this news, and this particular strand is sure to run on until the club finally declare who has the task of replacing a man who will forever be remembered at our club.

When Arsene took over the club, we were an outfit that was on the outskirts of
challenging for European places. Thanks to the Frenchman, we now expect to compete in the Champions League and challenge for honours.

If it weren’t for the changes he devised and implemented, then we all wouldn’t be so disappointed with our showings of late. Wenger placed the bar so high that over 22 years, he simply couldn’t maintain.

Plus, let’s not forget the halcyon moments he is responsible for. Two Double’s, an Invincible campaign. Players like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira who lit up games with their talents. Our famous Back Five having their careers extended with the intervention of Wenger. Countless occasions we were enthralled by the play unfolding on the pitch. Surviving with a defence that comprised Johan Djourou, Philippe Senderos and Sebastien Squillacci. Our fantastic stadium. WengerBall.

Perhaps one of the brighter lights in his glittering career? Keeping our side in the Champions League with mere pennies to spend. Keeping a squad that had no right to compete at the highest level, dining at the top table.

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We have a lot to thank him for – and that is what we should do in every game
from now until the end of the season.

Arsenal, Wenger and his Legacy

Arsene Wenger will be the manager of another team from next season most likely.

Wenger, the man who helmed our club for over two decades, through thick and thin, will invest himself into another outfit, wear another set of colours, rebuff a different set of questions from troublesome journalists instead of fending off questions about our club.

Wherever you currently sit on the fence of opinion regarding the Frenchman, this will be an unsettling experience.

Arsene Wenger has Arsenal DNA, and whatever new venture he chooses, it will only be a facade for what is underneath.

Wenger leaves his mark on Arsenal

His time at Arsenal is nearly over, and the majority of us knew that the end was nigh, but at this moment in time it is unclear whether he jumped or was pushed. The movements behind the scenes surrounding Josh Kroenke could infer that Wenger was given a nod that his time had come, and the empty seats and the hit in the coinpurse could well have been the push that Stan needed to make the move.

Then again, reliable source David Ornstein from the BBC stated that Arsene was moved to depart after we had defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup Final last season, but as there were no hard plans for a replacement, he felt he needed to stay to plug the gap.

Who knows if the truth will out. What we must make sure is that it doesn’t overshadow a fitting send-off for the man who has created all of our high expectations.

Wenger arrived looking very much like a Geography supply teacher. His appearance went very much against the grain of a British tracksuit manager, and his approach matched this incongruent nature.

We all know his novel ideas to diet, training and recruitment, and the success that followed was a testament to his novel approach.

Sadly, the rest of the playing field caught wind of these fresh thoughts, and the competition became altogether tougher – made even more so with the influx of cash.

While success dried up in terms of trophies, some of Arsene’s most glowing of references can be found involving no silverware whatsoever.

Our stadium is in place thanks to the direct involvement of Wenger. Our departing coach could see the tsunami of money that was about to wash over the game, and knew we couldn’t compete at the top level for a prolonged amount of time if we stayed at our magical – but limited – Highbury home.

The Emirates may be devoid of atmosphere at times, but in terms of scope and revenue, it is exactly what we need.

Then there was the financial limitations placed on our club after our stadium was built. Keeping our team involved at the keen edge of football when we regularly had to sell our top stars is nothing short of miraculous, and his masterplan of using the power of youth to create a team very nearly paid off. When all other around were making it rain, Wenger kept to his game plan.

When Wenger has stood in the dugout for the last time, we will be in a far better place than when he joined. We will have the framework necessary to plan for the future, and we have a lot to show gratitude for.

He was prepared to face the critics and tough spells for the greater good of the club, and his love for the club was the very reason why he felt it tough to leave. We should be in no doubt how much Arsenal runs through his veins.

Some have suggested that a stand or even the stadium should be named after him – and I wholeheartedly agree. Our legendary players are cast in bronze outside the stadium, but Wenger’s influence at our club is far bigger than a statue.

So, when we see Arsene in another team’s dugout, yes, it’ll be difficult. But his parting gifts will remain forever. He has changed Arsenal into a team that is expected to challenge at the top end, to a club with the financial muscle to compete. Most importantly though, we are now known the world over for playing football the right way. It’s our brand now.

Wenger told us all in his statement that we need to treasure the values that are the essence of our club. Sometimes it might make it difficult to compete at times, but what’s important is that Arsenal stay intrinsically Arsenal. Arsene knew that, and kept the cannon close to everything he did.

Merci Le Professeur.

New Backroom Staff To Bring Fresh Winds of Change?

There has been much change within our club recently. More change than ever, since Arsene Wenger began his era at Arsenal.

Hossam Fahmy working his legal and contract magic, in from TeamSky.

Darren Burgess and Shad Forsythe, leaders in the field of sports physiotherapy and recovery.

Sven Mislintat, renowned for his talents in player recruitment.

Jens Lehmann, former Gunner and outspoken coach.

Raul Sanllehi, a man with more connections than the London Underground system.

These men are in place and set to revolutionise the operations at Arsenal.

While Wenger is still at the helm though, Is it a case of changing the shoes on a tramp and expecting to change his appearance?

A large swathe of our fans see it this way. Wenger is the rust in our gears and until he has departed, then no matter of change can rouse us from our reverie.

The truth though, is that for once, our Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, has finally come good and acted on his words, rather than spouting clever rhetoric.

He mentioned this summer that change was coming, the winds of variety would sweep into our dusty halls and blow away the stale funk, and slowly but surely, he was right.

We now have the pieces in place to transition change in the right way, to drag ourselves to the front of the sport once again – just like we did when Wenger first joined.

Everyone is well versed about the Wenger revolution when the Frenchman signed from Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan. His dietary changes, his training methods and frameworks were well ahead of anything in the Premier League at the time, his football knowledge surpassed the majority so we also gained a jump in player recruitment.

Now, we have the tools to again make that massive leap to the front of the conga line of football, and lead the way.

Mislintat could have set up shop anywhere, such is his pedigree. Sanllehi was working his magic with Barcelona. Burgess and Forsythe were regarded as true leaders of their sector.

We truly have recruited the best in each field.

This is cause for optimism. We all know though, that change after an extended period of the same thing requires a transitory spell, one that needs velvet gloves. Manchester United replacing Sir Alex Ferguson spells out how cautionary we need to be to pick the right man – and have the perfect team to oversee the change.

We can all offer opinion on who should come in to replace Wenger when he finally calls time on his era. Some say a seasoned veteran to oversee the turbulent first couple of years. Others say a promising younger manager who has a firm grasp on modern tactics and hasn’t let time destroy his ideals.

It is very much up for discussion, but for now, we can rest assured that we now have the most solid of foundations in place to guarantee that if we do slip up, then it will only be down to the new man in the hotseat, not the network that is in place to help him.

We’ve been slipping for a while now, but these appointments mean we are moving in the right direction in the background. Good times are coming.

Arsenal’s new Head of Football Relations – Raul Sanllehi

Our club have been busy in the last year to replace the regime behind Arsene Wenger.

Jens Lehmann, Darren Burgess, Shad Forsythe, Sven Mislintat are among a raft of names brought in to rejuvenate certain facets of the club. 

Some say it is part of the new setup to ensure the transition to a post-Wenger world is as seamless and trouble-free as possible.

Some say it is Ivan Gazidis actually staying true to his word when he promised change.

Regardless, we are actually acting on the years of falling short, and bringing in people who have a reputation of delivering at the front end of the game.

Now, we have a new Head of Football Relations. 


We have recruited Raul Sanllehi from FC Barcelona to come in and work closely with new Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat. This new team will help source new talent for the club, and get transfers over the line.

Sanllehi has come in to replace the outgoing transfer ‘guru’ Dick Law. Our transfer policy in recent years has gone from praiseworthy to laughable, so a tried and trusted man like Sanllehi is extremely welcome.

Who is this new fellow though? And why is he an improvement?

Raul Sanllehi was Director of Football from 2008. This is no mean feat when you consider the many turbulent presidencies of Juan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeu. It shows he is a safe pair of hands.

He was at the Camp Nou to get deals over the line, something we have lacked with the incompetency of Dick Law in recent years.

Before his years at Barcelona, Sanllehi was involved with Nike. Experience at a big brand like Nike means he is unfazed by anything thrown at him. It also means he has excellent contacts. His rolodex will be a who’s who of sport.

Indeed, even Ivan Gazidis said of his experience and contacts; in a club statement;

“Raul’s appointment is another important step in developing the infrastructure we need at the club to take everything we do to the next level. Raul has extensive contacts across the football world and has been directly involved in some of the biggest transfers in Europe in recent years. We look forward to bringing that expertise to Arsenal.”

Sanllehi will initially be working alongside Wenger, but this appointment is very much planning for the future.

We now have excellent and intelligent people in the most important posts at the club who are in touch with innovative methods and the modern game.

We are well placed for the future with this recruitment drive. When the time comes to replace Wenger, our team should be able to keep the club firmly on track.