Tag Archives: board

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.

How Long Is Too Long For Emery?

The rumours persist, the names keep coming like a torrent.

As long as Unai Emery continues to struggle, then the likes of Mikel Arteta, Freddie Ljungberg, Jose Mourinho and Maximiliano Allegri will be tacked onto stories emanating from the media, revolving around the beleaguered head of Emery like a flock of hungry vultures.

The Spaniard would, on paper, appear to be on borrowed time. A run of no wins in five games has seen Arsenal slump down the table, creating a chasm between our club and the hallowed berths of the Champions League.

It isn’t only results that have set us fans frothing and seething, as well as set the assorted media into a frenzy.

Arsenal have lost their identity too.

Even in the lean Wenger years, we had an identity. We were just as likely to concede five goals in one game as we were to win at times, but we always played in a manner that was a joy to behold. Even when the squad was more threadbare than a Poundshop welcome matt, we still managed to put together moves that often bewitched the opposition.

Under Emery, we appear to be lost at sea. It could be a combination of our players reportedly being unclear on instructions, being played out of position like Lucas Torreira, or simply lacking the conviction that comes from having belief in the man leading the club.

If a player doesn’t think the manager is the right man, if there is an inkling of doubt, then that will shine through in performances.

Pressure Emery

Emery has been given a vote of confidence by Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi, and according to reports, he will not be sacked anytime soon – but if this run continues, then surely there can be only one way to go?

Our rivals and neighbours, Tottenham, have just sacked their long-time incumbent Mauricio Pochettino. This was because of a sequence of results that saw them slump to a position and points total eerily similar to ours.

It prompted chairman Daniel Levy into action. Does that mean that the club that was forever in our shadow, now hold themselves to standards higher than our own?

If Sanllehi and Venkatesham believe that patience is key to Emery bedding down his methods and seeing the results blossom, then after a whole season, shouldn’t we now be seeing this in some form of improvement?

Last season, Emery can be excused for what was a mighty close call to being a successful first season. Yes, our squad flopped over the line when it seemed easier to succeed, and the Europa League final will forever haunt us in terms of being one of our worst performances in quite some time.

But two matches away from finishing in the top four and winning the Europa League? That would have constituted a good debut season for Emery.

So that whet the appetite for what we would see this coming campaign.

Instead, we have been the footballing equivalent of driftwood. No identity, floating instead of heading somewhere. Aimless.

The alarming stats regarding Bernd Leno making more saves than ANY OTHER keeper at this stage of the season. The amount of shots we are giving away per game is higher than ANY OTHER side at this stage. The number of shots on target we are registering? In the last three games, we amounted six shots on target – cumulatively. That is one less than Leicester City registered in their 2-0 victory over us in just one game.

Emery has left us rudderless. Have there been any signs that this is going to be turned around?

Pochettino built up plenty of patience and goodwill in his time at Tottenham. Yet that counted for nothing when it came to the team struggling. With mounting debt and the Champions League money fading away should they miss out this season, Levy acted quickly.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester are walking away with the top four spots with no fight from us or Tottenham. Our neighbours have pushed the button to remedy their situation, in the belief that a change at the helm will get the best from the current squad and that Pochettino was no longer capable of turning it around.

Emery has had time to do the same. Sanllehi and Venkatesham have the belief that it is only a matter of time before Emery’s way will shine through and that we will begin to claw the deficit back.

With the likes of Mikel Arteta, Freddie Ljungberg, Mourinho and Allegri being possible candidates and seemingly easy to get hold of, Emery must know that in three or four results time, his number must be close.

How long before we blink?

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.

Sir Chips and Stan – the Dastardly Duo

The latest AGM received more newspaper lines than in recent years, but it wasn’t down to positive actions.

Sir Chips Keswick, Arsenal Chairman, slid the General Meeting into anarchy when he closed proceedings early when under the scrutiny of attendees questioning. Keswick’s refusal to face more questions from the crowd left a sour taste in mouths. Did he overstep the mark?


The separation between fans and the board has been a chasm in recent years and Stan Kroenke’s presence has only widened the gap. The annual meeting for shareholders is an opportunity for contact to be made, queries to be aired and grievances to be answered. It is a necessary measure for football clubs – especially ones of our stature.


Football clubs are run like a business and they need to be to keep up with the constant progression. Businesses and organisations place an emphasis on keeping tabs with their customers, whole departments even. This shows that with acumen comes the realisation that customers/fans are fundamental.


The AGM is one of the very few occasions when we have an opportunity to give the people who run our club a different perspective. They need this as they are so far removed from ground level so their view is compromised.







Events at the, well, event, started to sour when a show of hands declared their wish to replace both Josh Kroenke and Sir Chips Keswick from their respective positions. Democracy at its finest.


The next stage is an official vote. This is when things started to go a little awry. With a little over 67 percent of the shares, it meant Silent Stan had the deciding vote. He of course voted to keep the current incumbents in their positions and the hands that were raised as a show of defiance were mooted with one nod of Kroenke’s head.


Then, Ivan Gazidis took to the mic. In recent years, he has spoken eloquently and given viable reasons for our lack of success. 


This year he attempted the same, but his combination of spin and stats needed more punch if he wanted to paper over our fifth placed position last year.


He failed. Putting a positive on what was a poor season in the Premiership was not what we all wanted to hear. Honesty and a promise at an introspective look was what was called for.


This is what Arsene Wenger delivered. His emotive and impassioned speech showed that he was just as pained as we were at our failings, but he still believes that he is the man for the job. While that is very much up for discussion, his words soothed the masses at least.


Then, Sir Chips threw in the verbal equivalent of mentos in a can of Dr Pepper.


A female attendee took her chance to throw our Chairman a question she had aired for the last five years. Sir Chips’ swerving of a straight answer and his apparent indignance at having to answer such a question showed him for what he is – a terrible appointment and an antiquity being left behind.


Instead of being packed away with the rest of the heirlooms in the loft, Sir Chips is instead one of the working parts of a football club choking on the dust of our rivals.


He ended proceedings quickly. This could of course make sense of the fact that our owner did not speak – however it didn’t. We were all told that Stan Kroenke had chosen not to speak and we could read his comments in the Telegraph!


This is ludicrous and it was the cherry on top of the madness cake.


What can we do? Well, we tried the democratic route and we all saw how that paid off.


The only thing that can shake things up at board level is to hit them in the pocket, but a concerted effort to make an impact may just be passed us. The Arsenal business juggernaut is at full speed despite the hiccups in the road, and it is just the reason why Kroenke will be keen to not upset the status quo  – and also to keep his hands on his prized cash cow. 

Who Picks Arsene’s Replacement?

Published originally in the Gooner Fanzine.

In any form of democratic hierarchy, the process of replacing the person who sits atop the pyramid is a ritual of sorts. If it was a political framework, then the Prime Minister / President is sworn in by voting from the citizens of the country. If it is a monarchy, then the crown is destined to sit on the head of the person who is on the nearest branch of the family tree.

Whilst the rules may vary somewhat dependant on the setting, it is a serene and traditional means of seamlessly transferring power. 

Football could really do with taking a leaf from this book.

Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal since 1996, is nearing the end of his mammoth tenure at the club. Transforming the Gunners from faded London club to a prosperous outfit with genuine promise, Wenger has overseen the chrysalis and hazardous early years since Arsenal first moved into the new stadium. 

There was an Arsenal before Arsene and there will be after he is long gone, but it is undeniable he is responsible for dragging our club to where we now are, and that is expectant of success each season. His own achievements have ultimately been his downfall, as he now seems unable to muster what is fundamentally required. 

Wenger is now on borrowed time, and a future when he is not at the helm is a tangible prospect. How does a club decide who comes in and attempts to take the reins which have been in the hands of one person for so long?

The routines of the club behind the scenes and the setup is now like a well used car. The floormats and driver’s seat have indentations from the same driver. The steering wheel has lost several layers in two positions. The car still runs, but will it respond kindly to another person in the hotseat?

It must, or the scrapheap beckons.

So, how does Arsenal choose who takes the wheel next?

A lot has been made of Arsene choosing his own successor. Let’s face it, whether you support him or not, there are few who know the club as well as Wenger does, so surely he is best positioned to decide who is best for the role? He also knows football inside out, so he would have the best idea for who manages Arsenal?

What of the Board? In nearly all instances, the distinguished members of each club’s Boardroom are the ones who hold sway over the comings and goings. They may or may not be footballing men, but they more often than not are well schooled in one thing – and that is business.

Football has changed inexorably in the last decade, and clubs have distanced themselves from the community-based outfits of yore. They now deal in multi-billion pound growth charts, and each arm of the club needs to be a well-oiled machine in order to maximise opportunity and stay one step ahead of the pack. 

If democracy was truly utilised, then the fans would have a voice that would be heard. We are after all the blood of the club, and without us, then the sport would die. So we should be able to put forward our suggestions, no?

Well, anyone who is privy to social media can well attest to a large percentage of fans not actually knowing a whole lot about football. For every supporter who grasps common sense and just wants what is best for our club, there are always others who would bring in Jose Mourinho if given half a chance. 

No, all the parts of the equation are incorrect so far. Arsene Wenger should not be able to have the decision on who replaces him. The Board are not truly schooled enough to decide who is the best man for the job, and us supporters are a fractious bunch at the best of times.

So who decides?

How about an Arsenal Thinktank of sorts? Luminaries from all generations of the club who have served our club with distinction and want what is best for Arsenal? Men and women who are steeped in our ways and who know the current layout of the sport in general?

People like Tony Adams, Alan Smith, Frank McLintock, Lady Nina Bracewell Smith, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, David Seaman and the other members of The Back5, Liam Brady, Charlie George, George Graham, Bob Wilson, Kelly Smith.

People of this ilk care deeply for the club like us fans. They also know football very well, like Arsene Wenger. They also are well versed in the art of business as they all have different plates spinning in their lives. Soreally, they represent all parts of the equation.

They could really help the Board make an informed decision. Arsene Wenger deserves to be able to make a suggestion, and it should be listened to. But the decision is too big to be made by one man.

The future of our club rests on the next few years. Let us make sure we look to our proud history and the men and women who made us when we have to make the choice. 

Silent Stan Kroenke Reveals His Hand

A ruthless attitude is perhaps the most vital of attributes that successful entrepreneurs possess. Business acumen can be accumulated throughout a career, and a sound financial knowledge is always desirable – but without the ability to separate personal and business attachments, a potential tycoon will never get close to that personally branded helicopter.

Stan Kroenke is someone who has perfected that art. His comments recently have perfectly illustrated his opinions on the numerous sports teams he has in his portfolio, and it shows the vast gulf between the previous shareholders who resided on the board and Kroenke with his KS Enterprises.

” If you want to win Championships, you wouldn’t get involved.”

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