Tag Archives: change

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.

Wenger’s Grip Loosens

Published on The Arsenal Review​

The fanbase is as divided as it has ever been lately.

Poor results and the lack of a concerted title challenge for a length of time not fitting for a team of our stature, has served as an accelerant to the flames which now lick lasciviously at Arsene Wenger, Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and the underwhelming players.


The root cause for our long-term malaise is also at the centre of every point of consternation between us Gooners right now. The barometer of opinion swings wildly when it comes to players, whilst Stan Kroenke and Ivan Gazidis have long been the subject of ire from us all.


Arsene Wenger though, is now feeling the heat that Gazidis and Kroenke now attract. It hasn’t been instantaneous, and there has been pockets of fans calling for his resignation for some time now – but as of right now – the vast majority of Gooners can see no successful future with the Frenchman’s hand on the tiller.






The last few campaigns have merely added weight to the claims that Arsene is not the man of old, the brain responsible for some of the brightest lights we have glittering in our history. Just like these moments now encased in nostalgia, he too is a thing that should be consigned firmly to the past.


It was perhaps the 2015/16 season though, that broke the camel’s back in terms of being able to validate any argument in terms of supporting Wenger. Leicester City of course, were the victors, as we finished in the runners-up spot a lengthy ten points behind.


The Foxes lost only three games that season, but it isn’t the credentials of Leicester that were up for question, it was the fact that the title was evidently up for grabs and with the right level of acquisition in the transfer market, as well as avoiding sloppy mistakes, could well have seen the wait for a first Championship since 2004 ended.


Last season then saw us fall further behind, as the usual suspects who had slumbered the previous season, had now woke up. It saw our team finish outside the hallowed Top4 for the first time since 1996, and it fully emboldened the groups who were calling for Wenger to depart.


Now, we look back on the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign, in the shadow of a transfer window which was an unmitigated disaster. Once again we enjoyed a great start with the shrewd purchase of Sead Kolasinac and the marquee signing of Alexandre Lacazette.


The hole in our central midfield went unheeded though. Again. This is yet another barb that can be aimed squarely at Wenger. The lack of a decisive midfielder who is positionally astute is leaving Mesut Ozil roving deeper than he needs to be to deliver passes to our strikers. It also sees counter attacks from the opposition filter through unhindered.


Lessons unlearned. Much like losses against Stoke and indeed, Liverpool. Heavy defeats that would normally see a coach get the chop, are now annual occurrences. Too much faith placed in players that have let him down on numerous occasions. Playing players in positions that do not optimise their talents.


Three FA Cups in four years have made him the most fruitful Manager the competition has ever seen, and has given him enough slack for him to continue in his work. Another season of not challenging at the top though, beckons. A 4-0 loss at Anfield saw us play so contrastingly with the vibrant Reds that it was unclear what League we were meant to belong in. It was embarrassing, and yet it has happened before, which is not acceptable.


Wenger has admitted doubting himself, but this was before deciding to sign another two year extension. He still feels he is the person to continue to push our club forward, but before he can do so – can he prove he is the man to apply the handbrake and arrest our slide?


With Man City, Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool all flexing their financial muscles and our hated neighbours looking forward to a bigger stadium from next season, can we even consider ourselves standing toe-to-toe with these clubs? Have we slipped so much that we can’t close the gap?


Wenger will not leave before his contract ends, so there isn’t much choice but to get behind the man. We can question his approach though. We can voice our displeasure just as we can roar in approval if needs be. That is every supporters right.


What is now clear is that Wenger – even if he is still capable of delivering – is now making more mistakes than he has ever done before.


We have a squad that is capable of doing so much, but with an owner who does not inject a penny of his own into the club, a Chief Executive more adept at spinning the media than propelling us into the future and a Manager who appears to be losing grip with the sharp end of the Premiership, we may be slipping into the void.


The fanbase may be divided, but ultimately, with every disappointment, it unites that little bit more for a change in direction – from top to bottom.

​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. 

The Worst of Times?

A timely reminder to all fans sits innocuously around The Emirates stadium to whomever wishes to look at them.

It is a dose of smelling salts to all that no matter what befalls our club in these testing times – we have had it far worse in the past.


And our club is still here.


Circling the stands, we have placards detailing the trophies we have won since Arsenal began. If anyone pays attention to them, they will realise that there are some very large gaps in between the silverware we have held aloft. Far larger than we have suffered in the last two decades during Wenger’s reign.


This blog is not a ‘Wenger In’ statement. The majority of us are painfully aware of the tired tactics and the repetitive excuses that are on a cycle of late. We can see on the pitch that there is something amiss from the peak teams that Wenger has in the past masterminded.


What has gone missing in this ever-broiling debate is when fans declare that this is the worst team Wenger has ever produced and that he is a ‘cancer’ which is killing our club – which couldn’t be further from the truth.


If a healthy debate is to be triggered and maintained – and with both parties only looking for the best for Arsenal then this is the aim – then the truth is all that should matter. Anyone who actually supports this view has had their targets shifted by misinformation and vitriolic hyperbole.


As a club, we had a gap of seventeen years in which we did not win anything. Not a jot. From 1953 through till the Fairs Cup win in 1970, Arsenal football club not only won absolutely nothing, they struggled to stay in the top flight.


The squad was made up with mediocrity, with the odd sprinkle of talent which was just enough to keep Arsenal relevant.

We were then treated to a truly wonderful generation in the early ‘70’s which resurrected the Gunners.


Then, from 1971 through to 1979, there was again a dearth of shiny baubles which normally populate the trophy cabinet.


Then again from 1979 to 1987.


We have had some truly awful teams, players and seasons. Year after year of dire football. This struggle is not new, it is essentially the Arsenal Way.


We of course now enjoy a different set of circumstances which mean we should be challenging for honours. We have money rolling through the club and cash is the lifeblood of clubs the world over. We deserve it.


Whether we like it or not, the larger the bank balance, the larger the chance of success. It is a sign of the times. So expectation to challenge as a Gooner is a right, thanks to the influx of cash in our coffers.


It is Arsene Wenger that has given each fan these expectations through his efforts taking Arsenal through the squall of strict budgets into this land where we can buy the finest players available to us.











Now, we all stand on a precipice. Wenger’s time is coming to an end, and his farewell could be either something glorious and fitting – or he leaves the club with negative memories that override his achievements.


We had the nine year drought, which common knowledge amongst us all tells us was caused by a choking requirement to save and even generate, money. Now, we have managed to escape those cloistering times and we now enjoy freedom to spend.


We have done, and yet that elusive first title at The Emirates seems further away than ever. Frustration burns like wildfire and is spread amongst even the most placid of us. Why haven’t we moved on? Why haven’t the promises of contention that Ivan Gazidis made, come to fruition?


We can all be unhappy, we can all want better. We may even be entitled to it, what with the obscene ticket prices we all pay.

What we cannot lose sight of though, is that our club is NOT dying. It is NOT suffering the worst time we have ever had. It is NOT the end of days.


Our owners seemingly could care less, our manager’s obstinate nature has cost us at times, but even in recent seasons, we have had worse than this.


We should be pushing Chelsea further in the Premiership. We should not be exiting the Champions League with a 10-2 aggregate deficit. Our club is most definitely at a standstill.


No club has ever progressed with a lack of support though – and no club has ever moved on when lies exacerbate the negativity surrounding some supporters.

The Ox at Wing-Back

Published on Goonersphere. ​

New ideas bring new viewpoints. Standing in a different position gives a completely different look on proceedings, and this may just have happened in recent weeks for Arsenal – and certainly for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.


The stagnation of Arsenal looked to have taken root. Four consecutive away losses, of which we conceded three goals each time. A royal hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich. Falling away in the Premier League. The rot appeared to have gone all the way through the squad and there was no fight evident, there was no resistance. Only a meek surrender akin to an injured gazelle, too exhausted to keep running from the chasing predators. We were easy prey, rivals and smaller clubs taking advantage of an apparently stricken beast.

Arsene Wenger looked to be devoid of ideas, arms wide and raised in a desperate signal to the gods. His tried and trusted tactics were no longer up to scratch, they were in fact dragging the team down. The players also looked unable to find the extra gears they required to simply avoid defeat.

Wenger picked up the dice and threw. He opted to change formation and go with three central defenders at the back for the first time since 1997. On that occasion, we had Steve Bould, Tony Adams and Martin Keown in the team. Three of the hardest, most disciplined and organised defenders the Premier League has ever seen. This time though, we had Laurent Koscielny marshalling the errant Gabriel and the inexperienced Rob Holding.

The formation may have been branded as wholly new by all and sundry, but the only difference was it gave our fullbacks a bit more license to roam forward.

It also gave Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a bit more responsibility – and he has taken it and run with it.















In the games it has been employed, we have looked more alive than in recent months and The Ox has been instrumental.

We were all aware of his attacking threat and his intent with the ball. We were also aware of his tendency to lose the ball as he takes on players. This season has seen a wiser Ox though, and his utilisation at central midfield earlier in the season saw him in a far more efficient light than in previous seasons.

It is his work in a wing-back role in this 3-5-2 that has been revolutionary though. Who knew that The Ox could double-task? He has been asked to patrol the right side of the pitch – both in defence and attack, and he has done so with zeal and merit.

He has changed games in attack as he searches for the early ball or to torment his opposing fullback. The Ox has enhanced his dribbling and he has lessened the wastefulness that has blighted his time an a Gunners shirt. He has improved his final ball and has made sure he has lifted his head up rather than ploughing on into blind corners. He has made the difference.

It is in defence though that he has proved his worth. He has been quite excellent in covering the defensive part of the field, he has helped out Gabriel in that part of the pitch in a massive way.

The Brazilian has come on leaps and bounds with the security offered by Chamberlain. The Ox’s reservoirs of stamina means he has been up and down his flank like a clock pendulum on meth amphetamine.

If this formation sticks and we adopt it, then The Ox will be as vital a player as any other on the field. His adaptability has seen him rise to the fore and this in turn may just get him the improved contract he desires – and now warrants.