Tag Archives: backroom

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.

Sven and the Broken Regime

Nobody likes change.

 

So when Arsene Wenger finally departed after twenty two years at the helm of Arsenal, many worried what came next.

 

It was the unknown, our path was not set, but we could latch onto the fact that the club had started to put some foundations into place that would carry us through the uncertainty.

 

Our squad may have been severely unbalanced, and we had no idea if we would have what it took to fight back and gain entry into the vital money source of the Champions League, but a few additions to our backroom staff meant we would be able to rebuild for the future.

 

Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi had pedigree. The German had forged a reputation as one of the best talent spotters in Europe. Mislintat had found glints of light and knew they could be polished up to become precious jewels. The players he found at Borussia Dortmund can attest to his quality. Aubameyang, Dembele, Sokratis, Kagawa and more, Mislintat could see the player they would become before anyone else.

 

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Sanllehi was sourced from Barca, and his previous employment showed he could oversee many different facets of a top European club. There were other appointments, Fahmy, Mertesacker, Ljungberg etc were part of the new guard – one that was supposed to herald in a new, revitalised approach that gave responsibility to experts in their field, rather than the old model that had one man overseeing everything.

 

With Wenger and then Gazidis leaving the club, the watershed had hit us, and we could see the path that the club was on.

 

With Mislintat leaving though, apparently at odds with Sanllehi, it leaves us in the limbo of uncertainty again.

 

It is rumoured that former Gunner Edu, currently working in a technical capacity for the Brazil national team, but will the Brazilian have the all-encompassing football knowledge of how a club operates like Mislintat does? With the German’s hopes of his role growing rather than being pigeon-holed into that of a talent spotter, Mislintat can be forgiven for looking elsewhere. He was supposed to be integral to the evolution of the club – but instead, this period of transition for Arsenal is being sworn in by Sanllehi and new Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham, without the vision of Mislintat.

 

Bayern Munich seems to be a likely destination for the German, where he not only will be given a firmer handle on the reins – given his burgeoning reputation – but he will also not be hamstrung by miniscule budgets. If he identifies a target, then the club will listen.

 

It was hard enough for the club to finally give in and bring about change at the managerial level, but with one of the puzzle pieces of our future regime leaving, we will undoubtedly be put back a few steps. Plus, Mislintat is a genuine asset to the club, one we could dearly need.

 

Our defence will need a vast overhaul very soon. Captain Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, these are all 30 or over. Even if they are all fit, we have needed an injection of defensive skill for some time. With those players on the wrong end of their playing capability, Mislintat could have been given a mission to find the next Arsenal defence. Now we may not spot the next defensive lynchpin we so badly require.

 

Sven Mislintat departing the club may be overlooked by some, but with the raft of changes the club has undergone recently, Sven was part of the new regime, and also had a responsibility to find the last few pieces of the puzzle.

 

We may have to wait longer now to see the finished article, and Arsenal could become a perennial Europa League team, instead of the reputation we have forged as a Champions League club. This may be even harder to replace.

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.

Overmars as Director of Football? Not a Chance..

In the absence of ‘proper’ football during the most recent international break, it seemed as if common sense also left the room along with our sanity.

Watching international football in comparison to our beloved Premier League is prone to leave even the most grounded reaching for the straightjacket, but the latest rumour has no ties to veracity.

We all read it, and the stories surrounding Marc Overmars leaving Ajax to become Arsenal’s Director of Football are quite laughable under the current circumstances.

Consider the facts.







Since David Dein left, Arsene Wenger has had full control of the good ship Arsenal. Dein was viewed as the contrary voice of reason whenever Wenger was in the throes of an outlandish decision. This is not to say Wenger regularly had hair-brained schemes. No, this is merely to say Wenger had a yin to his yang.

Everybody needs one, but now our manager has had his hand on all the controls for quite some time, and if stories from behind the veil are to be believed, Wenger will not tolerate opinion from elsewhere.

Wenger is absolute.

So, all of a sudden he is open to bringing in someone who will bring not only another view, but one that he will have to take on board?

Marc Overmars started off his post-playing career at boyhood club Go Ahead Eagles on a voluntary basis. Firstly as a shareholder and then later joining the Supervisory Board, The former winger then joined Ajax part time as a Youth Coach. Getting a solid grounding behind the scenes gives Overmars another view, and since 2012, he has been Technical Director at Ajax as part of a team of former Ajax luminaries at the club.

Overmars being a former Gunner helps a lot, but it matters very little as this story will not come to fruition as long as Wenger is at the club.

The only way this may hold any truth is if Wenger has already decided to leave after his final season which is in 2019. Overmars coming in at the start of this campaign allows a smoother handing over of power, with the respective new guy having help in acclimating to The Arsenal Way.

Other than this one version of events, Overmars joining in on the decision making is about as likely as Toni Colbert embracing new methods of fitness.

A Director of Football is usually the death knell of any managerial setup. Aside from Txiki Begiristain at Manchester City which still has the jury out, another person muscling in on the manager is not a conventional recipe for success.

That isn’t to say it wouldn’t work though.

Wenger desperately needs another to sound his thoughts out to. Seeing as Steve Bould has lost all semblance of the voice he had as a player, Arsene has no-one but his own mind to see both sides of a potentially problematic equation.

Overmars coming in and offering a fresher approach mixed with Wenger’s way with his players could well be the ingredient we need to finally unleash what our squad is capable of doing.

Could it be pulled off? Certainly.

Will it happen? Almost certainly not.

If Wenger is set to call time on his Arsenal legacy at the end of his current deal, a Director of Football would be a great solution to bridging the gap between bosses.

A returning Gunner is a nice touch too. If by all accounts this does come true, the fact they know the club is a big advantage.

So, to surmise, don’t believe everything you read. 

​Arsenal Look to Change

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.