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Is the problem at Arsenal at Board level?

Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

by Tony Attwood

We all know there are lots of anti-Wengerians on the internet, telling us daily what a useless manager he is.

There are also a number of people (some of whom are kind enough to read this blog) who argue that this is not the case.

But just for a moment let us think – who might it be that took the club to the position where we lost 8-2 to Manchester United and 2-0 to Liverpool?  Was it Wenger, on the grounds that he is the manager, or was it someone else who has control over the situation?

We know that players we might want to buy have clubs already who want to hold on to their best players, and maximise the fees if they sell.  For all the angst we feel with a defeat or with the loss of Nasri and Cesc we must not forget that each club that sells can go through the same, if they are losing a top player.

But even then there are issues – does the player want to move to London, does he like the manager, is there a player here that he hates, does his wife or lover or harem want to move?  Does his agent want too much?  So it goes.

Yet there is more: because behind all this is the Board.  Now I know nothing of the Board activities at most other clubs, but we can speculate about the Board at Arsenal, because Mr Wenger has a few times let slip little comments that could be taken to mean that he has wanted players but the Board has said no because of cost or salary.

That would suggest that Mr Kronke, or his deputies, have started to run the club their way – which of course they are entitled to do since they are the owners.   But shareholders appoint a Chief Exec – in our case Mr Gazidis.  He treats fans with respect, meeting with them through Arsenal Independent Supporters Association.  But is he acting on a shareholders’ agenda?

Or is there something else?

Arsenal are in a curious position, because having just been taken over, they seem to be lined up for another takeover, because for some time Mr Usmanov has been buying up shares, paying £14000 per share – which is a fair old price.

If he carries on like this he will reach the magic 30% of the shareholding of Arsenal Holdings plc which owns Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Club Ltd (yes, we are still Woolwich Arsenal in the legal sense) by November (he now requires under 600 shares).  At this point he will have to make an offer for all the remaining shares in the club at the highest price he has paid within the last 12 months.
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Most of these shares are owned by Stan Kroenke who paid far less for his shareholding.  In fact at this level he will make 19% profit on the shares he bought from Mr Fiszman, Lady Nina and the other directors in May and June.   In other shares he paid under £10,000.
You can see the latest transactions here.
Now Mr Kronke is said to support Mr Wenger – but could it be that he is not so sure about the way things should be.  Is it he who values the self-sustaining above all else – even when the inventor of the modern English self-sustaining football club wants to bend the rules and get more players in.  The benefactor clubs seem to be running away with things in terms of transfers – not least because they can buy and let players who don’t make out rot in the reserves.  Or simply leave them out of the “25”.
It is easy to blame Mr Wenger for the fact that Almunia and Bendtner are still at the club eating up salaries, but there is no EPL club that does not have this problem.  No one can tell the future so perfectly that they never get stuck with players on contracts.   Sometimes it goes one way, sometimes another.  For every unwanted player there is another you do want to keep but who hasn’t signed.  Flamini is an example (although in fact he proved to be something of a one-season wonder after he left).
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So Mr Kronke could walk, and Mr Wenger could be sacked – but sacking Mr Wenger will do no good if the problem is still that the board does not want Mr Wenger to spend money.
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Blaming one person, when we simply don’t have the information as to what is going on, is normally not very sensible.  When that person is the most successful manager Arsenal has ever had it looks less sensible still.  Especially when the ownership of the club – and thus its financial basis – might be about to change.
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94 comments to Is the problem at Arsenal at Board level?

  • Aditya

    Thanks for takin this up!! Would like to knw more.

  • Well-endowed gooner

    Do I detect a hint of criticism from this article?

  • Rob

    I agree with you on that Tony, well put….

  • Philbet

    Guess Spurs are pretty keen to get the liability that is Bentley off the books,Liverpool have off loaded Joe Cole, Chelsea have several eating up the Salerys and dont start looking at City, good job the deserts full of oil.

  • Desmond

    In my opinion, Arsene seems to be making it his personal mission to pay off the stadium debt asap. The board has most likely given him a decent amount (but nowhere near monstrous) to spend. When the Financial Fair Play rule kicks in soon, clubs like man utd, city etc are unlikely to keep up with their crazy spending as they would no longer be spending within their means. Arsenal on the other hand are geared for success.

    We are in a healthy position, our wage caps fulfills logic. Just think about how the fair play rules would impact City – Tevez and friends will be taking a HUGE PAY CUT, how are these guys going to respond? I doubt players will be interested in City anymore.

    (1) Arsenal tickets being more expensive,
    (2) marketing Arsenal to other regions eg Asia where I live in, (3) relying on our scouting and youth developings
    will command HUGE Revenue and Lower our costs. We WILL be the big boys of Europe.

    But of course this is merely my guess, but I believe Wenger being such an intelligent man, has planned every steps of the transformation of Arsenal meticulously and with foresight. His work is not done yet, we are halfway through this goal already. The 2 final pieces of the puzzle are the onset of the Financial Fairplay and the servicing of our debt (300M is no small sum). Let us Gooners be patient and stick through the hard times with this man who dare I say, will become the “father of the 21st Century Arsenal”.

    On a side note, anybody can enlighten us on JY Park’s National military service to S.Korea? I’ve heard that by the age of 28 he must return to finish his duty as a citizen. Does that mean Park will only be with us for 2 years?

  • ziggy

    I say sack the Board they are useless

  • jyhmin

    yes the board and kroenke has nt said nothing, at least we are nt gonna float on singapore share market like stupid glazer.

  • Byron

    Tony, spot on!!

  • b22

    YES! board level! give arsene a rest! if it was any1 else in his situation we’d only be WORSE off~!!!

  • Dark Prince

    So suddenly you’re saying that Kroenke was not the right guy at our management level??

    I think the issue always has been with the board, but as a manager/coach of the club, Wenger needed to address this issue to them in a bold manner….But instead it felt as if Wenger too went into the flow of this “do not spend, faith in youngster” approach. Which obviously, it back fired superbly when these same youngsters suffered the heaviest defeat.

    Now when all the damage has been done, the board thinks of acting. But the sad fact is that, it was that result on sunday which made them realise their mistake, it cud have been avoided a long time ago, but they did it only when we had to suffer humiliation like that.

    Didn’t they see the warning signs??

  • willybilly

    Desmond

    I agree with you in principle, but as already shown with the etihad deal, FFP rules will be near impossible to implement. I really hope that UEFA can get their lawyers on it but I doubt there is much they can do. Hope I a wrong though, as like you said ,suddenly the world will see the responsible and great way in which we operate. The reality is that people will just say ” you just jealous of city” No I a not jealous of buying trophies, but I am worried about the effect on our game in the future. aybe a wage cap should be brought back??

  • KHO

    Rember, the Arsenal is big club so it is supposed to be aware on chnage in Barclay ,every at early stage of the seasons prepared itself to make sure that most of th previous season probles are being rectified e,g LiverPool

  • zdzis

    There seems to be a lot of movement among Arsenal shareholders. This story about Usmanov makes it look like the club is likely to change hands twice in one year. I think it might be one of the reasons why this transfer window was so poorly used. Even then, the fact that wenger managed to sign Gervinho and add those few exciting youngsters is impressive in this light. One question that I can’t help to ask is how much transfer money does he currently have. The combined cost of all transfers until today is 35 million, and Gazidis has officially stated, in late June or early July, that the club have granted Wenger 40 mil for transfers. This would mean he has only 5 mil on his hands, and still a few gaps to fill (central midfield, left-back). I wonder how much of the money gained on the Cesc and Nasri sales have been added to that pool.
    Wenger will definitely not leave Arsenal unless he’s forced to resign or the projects he oversaw (Emirates, youth) are completed. Until the debts are repaid and the academy becomes a regular source of young talent, he will definitely stay at Arsenal.

  • bob

    Desmond,
    It has appeared, and been basically acknowledged here (by Tony, pretty much, and other commenter-analysts) that the Fair-Financing Rules do not have an accounting staff to enforce them, that they do not go as far as you might be dreaming, and that the zillionaire petrol-money sloshing through the EPL (as elsewhere) is so vast that the so-called governing bodies could not enforce real Fair-Finance reform if they even wished to. The only chance the reforms have is if the zillionaires whose way of life is to defy all and any restraint would some day wake up and say, yes, let’s all agree to restrain ourselves. But that day won’t come until they’ve lost massive amounts, so massive that they decided that financial restraint was in fact a survival necessity. That day is not yet at hand.

  • Stanley Wong

    As all of you know, Man Utd is getting away from FIFA Financial Fair Play by listing on the Singapore Stock Exchange. This would bring them another few hundred millions to spend on players and salary.

    If for whatever reason, their bank reserve is low, the Board will start issuing 5 to 10 years fixed bond and issue short term shares. This will defeat the purpose of the FIFA Financial Fair Play and because it is listed in another country, FA will find it difficult to track and implement rules for Man Utd. Singapore being a metropolitan country has less restriction on movement of capital and fund. Secondly, the Sing dollar is strong against the English Pound and Euro.

  • zdzis

    @willybilly: FFP is a limited resource, it won’t cover everything. But the clubs’ resources are also fairly limited. You can sign long-term sponsorship deals for delirious amounts of money, but you can’t sign more than one deal at a time. It’s true that’s not enough, but it’s only fair to let anyone smart enough to do it bypass the new rules where it’s legit.
    A salary cap is a good idea, even if it’s going to be set at a high level. This could prevent signing of 4 or 5 exceptional players for one position. Some clubs could now afford to pull pranks on everybody else, sealing multiple deals to eliminate the possibility of anyone getting new talent. This practice also has its limits, so the situation isn’t as dramatic. But setting a limit on wages would definitely help. Perhaps there should be rules to ensure that clubs with oversize debt can’t sign costly deals?

  • para

    I have been thinking something like this for a while now.
    I am not an AW lover or hater. But AW seems to have changed since 2 seasons ago.
    On the outside still the same, but look closer and one can see the eyes are not the same.
    Then one reads of players being behind him but still leave the club. D Dein backs AW but has left the club.
    It is beginning to look like AW has lost what ever power he had at AFC, was told he can resign if he does not like it, hence “I will not walk out on AFC” quote from him.
    When he asked for a raising of player wages, he was flatly refused we are told.

    Maybe not buying players in this window is all AW, in order to achieve just what has happened now, frighten the board into realising, that if they do not change, what will happen to AFC.

    Suddenly he is ready to buy and is buying. Has he now got permission to save the club?

    It seems we will never know for sure until AW writes his book.

  • bob

    p.s. In fact, I would say that the proposed Fair-Financing rules are to REAL financial reform as their proposed video goal-line replay technology is to REAL full-coverage video replay. In other words, they paper over the serious underlying problem which is allowed to go unaddressed.

  • right_mr

    Hi Tony,
    Your article brings to the foreground what is I think the most important factor to look at with player transfers and this factor is the player WAGE DEMANDS and AGENTS. My view has always been that no recognised world class player will sign for arsenal because Arsenal’s restrictive wage cap puts a serious dent in any hopes of signing a player even though Arsenal can afford the transfer fee. Now Arsenal in theory could afford Sneijder’s club transfer fee of £25-30m, but Sneijder would not agree to a move unless he earns a weekly wage of £150k. The wage cap at Arsenal would obviously need to be removed for him to sign. Economics wins and principles lose in this instance.

    I probably guarantee you that any recent arsenal signings came to the Emirates on better wages than their previous clubs.

    Now question is, who sets the wage cap:
    a. The directors of Arsenal?
    b. Arsene Wenger?
    c. The shareholders?
    d. Other?

    I assert that it is very unlikely that Arsene Wenger is responsible for setting the wage cap.

    Yet all the press constantly bad mouth Arsene as being a tight fisted french git. I couldnt disagree more. I think it is a case of shooting the messenger. Arsene does the press conferences so as far as ignorant people go, he is running Arsenal football club!

    In my view, given the financial restrictions previously, and the extremely low wage cap at arsenal, Arsene Wenger has worked a miracle to somehow keep arsenal in the top 4 these last few years. If anything, he should be applauded and encouraged to continue to do his best at the club without Arsenal fans bad mouthing him all the time. Frankly speaking, he is a HERO, and a wonderful manager. How he has managed to over achieve with the group of players that he has is stuff of legends.

  • KHO

    Rember, the Arsenal is big club so it is supposed to be aware on chnage in Barclay ,every team at early stage of the season prepared itself to make sure that most the of th previous season probles are being rectified e,g LiverPool.In addition to that the folowings are important aspests
    1.It is clear that the players are not physical fit , you can cpmpare of the same age to Man(U)young players on how they hunt on the ground, if this problem will be properly handeled the Gunners can be strong rival
    2.Lack of plan B when the A plan at real

  • bob

    Stanley Wong,
    ManUre does the Singapore slip, and ManShitty does their new property scheme, and so it goes. In the case of ManUre and Barfa, I would have to say that, like their counterparts in the banking community, some entities – the pillars of their industries, so to speak – are too big to fail. There is no genuine free market or set of free market rules with teeth for the biggest players to even bother with. I’d welcome your thoughts.

  • bob

    Tony, right_mr,
    I think your respective framings of the background issues and the description is spot on. There’s a deeper analysis, then, to be had in the offing. Eyes wide open, then… alons.

  • Sammy

    “Could it by this…
    Could it be that…
    But Wenger is God, he can do now wrong”.

    Where are the facts?

    The AKBs have landed in such a desperate situation.

    The fact is that Wenger has dithered and fiddled for past 3-4 seasons when the team has had obvious weaknesses; and instead signed geriatrics and youngsters with future potential instead of addressing immediate concerns. The board has come out several times in the past publicly saying substantial funds are available if Wenger wants to spend. Wenger has backed this statement and has never countered the board’s claim. Instead he has asked fans time and again to trust his judgement. In other words, he has been stubborn. Now even he has smelled the coffee and started panic buying. There are no other “could be this” or “could be that”. It’s time for you as well to wake up and smell the coffee. But ofcourse, it is against the founding principal of this site to admit that Wenger is a human being and can err!

  • Desmond

    Your points about the FFP has brought me into realisation of the sad facts about modern day football. The governing bodies are weak, unwilling and perhaps unable to implement a hard line stance… it indeed seems more like mere coffee talk with very little actually being done..

    I’m actually rather worried about the boardroom movements. If Usmanov steps into the boardroom, what kind of a mindset would he bring? Is he an abramovich or a businessman who is willing to engage in more risk than the current board members?

    I agree that AW has been punching above his weight for quite some time given the resources we command. Yes he does make mistakes, but more often than not I think he has been let down by the players who merely take Arsenal as a stepping stone.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Sammy for manager and we would have won it all!!

  • right_mr

    Sammy – I do like how you get 5 from adding 2 + 2!

    Why would Wenger publicly criticize the board?

    I like how you go from asking fans to trust his judgement to concluding he is stubborn?

    You miss the point completely Sammy – Wenger does not run arsenal football club, the board of directors do. Wenger doesnt make bids directly, they go through the board of directors.

    I ask you a question Sammy, if Arsenal were to bid £30m for Edin Hazard and the player agreed to the transfer subject to his wage demands being met of say £150k per week. Would it be Wenger’s decision to agree to pay him these wages, or would it be the board of directors to approve breaching the wage cap?

    I think you need to take a deep whiff of a double espresso shot too…

  • Enfield Gooner

    Excellent article, always a good factual read not spoilt by one’s feelings of anger, unlike other sites………

    From what I remember, Arsenal has a current debt of £135 million Pounds – I saw this on the official site a while back. Please correct me if I am wrong?

    Also there are stories going around, rather creditable ones in fact where the debt will be paid off this year\season. After all there is a sizeable amount of money that has to be kept back as per the loan agreement and with money made as profit each year plus all those flats to be completed and sold in the Queensland Road development I believe Arsene is going to give us the good news sometime soon!

    This in itself will be a wonderful achievement and in a recession too.

    Regarding the board, personally I believe something is going on that we are unaware of but slowly it seems to be “Leaking out”.

    As a manager Arsene is a winner and wants to win as much as the rest of us. Thankfully so far he has got shot of quite a few players who were bad apples, useless and not good enough so things ARE improving!

  • bob

    Tony,
    Some insightful comments hereabouts, have recently gone to the point of saying that the incite-full media destabilization of AW has had an ulterior agenda which is to bring down the self-sustaining model, with AW as its avatar and therefore, prime target. Would you now say, at least in principle, that there is a direct or closely indirect connection between some major players in the media’s all-out war on AW (e.g., the owners of The Sun) and some entity or entities within AFC that wish to bring about what you have just signaled? — that “its financial basis – might be about to change.” There are many of us who would welcome and value your further thoughts on this. Cheers.

  • Stanley Wong

    Hi Bob,

    I share your view on this and you are probably right when you said they are too big to fail. If that is the case, FA should know best and scrap the Financial Fair Play. Clubs like Man City ,Barca and Spurs will follow suit in listing in HK and Singapore.

    Moreover, English football supposed to be the most competitive in the world. The emergence of owners for Man city and Chelsea splashing their cash on players without considering their acoounting books will make the competition uninteresting in the long run and will lose its glamour sooner rather than later. Imagine, the permier league champion goes to Chelsea and FA Cup to Man City and Champions League to Barca/Man Utd and so forth.This will be repeated for the next 10 years or so.

  • Andy Kelly

    I’m beginning to wonder if it is impossible for ANY team to survive on a self-sustaining level in the English Premier League.

    Could it be that Arsenal’s way of self-sustaining is to sell their best players every year or so? Other clubs either have a sugar daddy or huge debts.

    Worryingly, Arsenal adopted a similar policy at the start of the 20th century and it went seriously pear-shaped. It was only the intervention of a benefactor that they stayed in business and eventually crowds dwindled and relegation came upon us.

    I fear that we may be walking a thin line between success and failure. If Usmanov does take over, it may be the club’s saving grace.

    BTW well researched article Tony 😉

  • dial square

    Arsene is a football god…with a wave of his mighty arms he forms a team that flails helplessly and he brings forth grief and suffering to millions. With a tickle of his great pen hand he brings hope to millions of others. Looks like its going to be another season of intrigue worthy of the wide-eye gawking of us mere mortals! Arsene Knows!

  • KHO

    Rember, the Arsenal is big club so it is supposed to be aware on chnage in Barclay ,every team at early stage of the season prepared itself to make sure that most the of th previous season probles are being rectified e,g LiverPool.In addition to that the folowings are important aspests
    1.It is clear that the players are not physical fit , you can cpmpare of the same age to Man(U)young players on how they hunt on the ground, if this problem will be properly handeled the Gunners can be strong rival
    2.Lack of plan B when the A plan at real is not working, it is the matter of just changing the game plan so as the gunners to win or prevent major lose
    3.Raising the gunners spirit ,motivating them,build the cofident of the individual player in order to rescue and wing the game
    4.Wenger if want to have the team like FCB you should spend most of yourtime for the teame,and gathering the creative mildfilders,MR Wenger wining is very important in World of Footbal.If you know that your Problem is that you don’t spend much for training of your Backline eve the player is good in defending after short time during the season lose the concentration
    5.Don’t try winning game through 100% passing game,you should prepare your players tactice,techniques and sometime cheating as you lose game you and BERC AF.Your problem is that you and your players rank all games equally,really gunners were supposed to be champion but the series of drws let the down, this id due to poor game plan with no alternatives, instead of the wing the team seam just play with no targets
    6.Generally Wacot is striker and not mildfield player, due to his speed can escape bacline very easy espacially most of the time uses penetration pass and passing game

  • Stanley Wong

    Before we start to point fingers at Wenger, we should also understand that he is the Manager and not the Director. Manager works under the instruction of the Board and seek confirmationon players transfer.

    We have 6 possible clubs competing this season ie. Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Cheksea and Spurs. So to say, 2 clubs will miss out on the Champions League next season and can possibly be any of the 2 clubs.

    The writer is right to say that, we have little information at our level. The season just started and we should support our club to the fullest.

  • noname

    well guys, nasri have said that it’s not wenger, it’s our board, the officials… nasri said that after he moved to city… he was also happy that wenger got 25M from manC (that helps wenger exactly)…

  • bob

    Sammy,
    Anyone can err, even someone as observant as yourself. You surely can see and know that there are appearances and backgrounds to every surface. Over the months, there have been many direct and indirect postings that looked at and tried to tease out points of difference and nuances within AFC that were worth or begged a second look. You are so hell-bent to reduce everything that has goes on here – both in the articles and in the first-rate comments section where even you can opine – to one point of view: that Arsene is Infallible. You insist here and now that Untold Arsenal is and has been a dictatorship over thought and expression with its overall scope has been incredibly ecumenical with all sorts of commentary allowed to argue at unrestricted length. Your misrepresentation of all this is as simplistic as it is willful. There are massive changes afoot in the world and in football and in their linkages; and what we do have here in UA is a place to explore them and critique each other. To gloat over a nuanced shift in Tony’s position, if it’s that, as if you’ve somehow uncovered a chink in Pravda’s armor is to set up a straw man and then to say Gotcha! Your only agenda, it would appear to me, is your need to be right. Gotcha! was the magazine of the last editor of News Of the World in whose pages, based on today’s posting, you seem to have spent some of your formative years.

  • Savage

    The one book I would definetly buy and read:
    Coach Wengers Memoirs!

  • Desmond

    Going off topic for a little while…
    Is there any truth in the M’vila rumours of a bid 25m rejected?
    How likely is it that Arsenal will spend such a huge amount on a defensive midfielder especially when we have 2 in Song and Frimpong. It also seems unlikely that he would be brought in just to provide cover for the ACN when Song and maybe Frimpong gets called up, especially at that price. Am I missing something I ought to know about M’Vila’s ability or is it merely a silly rumour making the rounds?

  • Dan AKA The Truth

    Come on Tony, we all know that, with the exception of Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger enjoys more control over Arsenal’s affairs than any Premier League manager. He even said a few weeks ago ‘I will spend £40m on a player’… the ‘I’ being the operative word.

    I accept that Wenger is only human and makes mistakes, but he has surrounded himself with a number of yes-men who will never criticise his methods.

    Before any AKB slams me for implying that Wenger should spend £50m on Neymar or whoever, the biggest mistake that I think your Lord has made and that can be solved without spending so much as a penny is our toilet formation… we’re not Barca, we don’t have the calibre of their players and we are not playing in an easy league… abandon the stupid 4-5-1/4-6-0 formation, Wenger!!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    In fact Dan Aka, he has made an offer of 40M for one player a few weeks ago. Gotze of Dortmund but Gotze preferred to stay where he was and Dortmund rejected the offer.

  • Nick

    ive been told the contracts for Arsenal players run out at the end of June and get renewed for the 1st July, which kind of makes sense as Wenger was saying he was gonna buy in the 1st week of July if that is true why did Mr Gazidis decide to go on holiday for 2 weeks when it is job to finalise all contracts ?

  • bob

    Andy Kelly,
    I would argue that the reason behind the all-out media war against him is that AW has been the one significant hold-out on behalf of the self-sustaining model. He is not pure, nor could anyone be; but it does seem that he’s done yeoman work to preserve what he could of it – and that perhaps he is even now bending in order not to break. That is, you lose certain battles to win the war. Or you throw in the towel with style, because the current array of forces is to great to win. So you survive to fight another day. Whatever is the case right now, something huge is afoot, as the end of Tony’s article signals. But let there be no mistake about what AW has wanted to achieve – a self-sustaining model that he defined at length in an interview in the very pages of Murdoch’s The Times of Londong. And, imo, that interview – which urged a league with greater equity in the distribution of its profits across the entire league – is what made Arsene Wenger the marked man that he is today. This man, flaws and all – yes, flaws and all – is a hero. If he winds up walking or being pushed out, then, as the media has said about Muhammad Ali, he was much nicer to us than we deserved.

  • Francis Angrey

    The board should live up to expectation. They seem 2 be more interested in the money that enters their pockets than in the overall success of the club.The rest of us are really worried.

  • Dan AKA The Truth

    Yeah, I read that, Walter, but what’s your point please? If anything your comment has just supported what I wrote. I even said that I don’t care about marquee signings, I am just concerned that Wenger is not accountable to anyone at the club like a true dictator. It’s just amazing how AKBs attempt to paint us objective Gooners as fans who are obsessed with huge signings.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Santos just confirmed on arsenal.com 🙂
    Just look at the picture they have chosen 😉 they could use it again…

    damn I should have said : first, boom or whatever as I was the first to like at arsenal.com 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    Dan, no I was just pointing out that he sometimes is saying things that people write off as rubbish, but that after a while the truth behind it comes above water.

    But what or why some things happen at Arsenal we will never know what really is behind it.

  • bob

    Dan AKA,
    No one has had dictatorial powers who is not an owner. The idea that AW has been the dictator of Arsenal – from toilet paper to investment strategy – defies belief. In the end, ownership rules; and management appears to rule at the sufferance of ownership. Neither you nor I have been the fly on the wall inside AFC, especially at the last board meeting when Silent Stan flew in and reversed AW’s policy on keeping Samir Nasri no matter what, to know with certainty, as you wish to pretend to know, that AW has been the sole authority. What AW says using the term “I” in a corporate context does not me I as in what you and I think we know. There’s the surface of things and their background and the tensions between them that makes everything harder to get a handle on. But that’s how it goes… neither the simplistic Arsene Knows Everything nor the equally simplistic Arsene Has Been (or is) All-Powerful. Enough with such fairy tales and we can begin to make progress.

  • bob

    p.s. sorry, Dan, I meant to say: “does not MEAN I, as in you and I”

  • Dan AKA The Truth

    Coolio, thanks for clearing up guys! That’s good news about Santos… I was getting scared about the left back situation after Traoré’s departure. 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    I think many of us have felt something has not been right somewhere for a while, even the players have lately seemed sppooked.
    Maybe Silent Stan could be tempted to sell at such a profit, who knows. The worry for me is that I cannot see Wenger working under Usmanov if that were to happen, unless Dein is even more persuasive that many think he is.
    As for the board / our current predicament, Wenger seems to have calculatedly let slip a few things recently, the 20 or so working on transfers, the warning not to take top 4 for granted, then there were Deins recent quotes and RVPs not so veiled threats. For what its worth, I think Wenger has been given money for initial transfers, maybe not matched by money for wages for these players.
    Then there are the behind the scenes staff. Our negotiators are coming in for increasing stick on some of the more reliable sources on the net. I heard Frank Warren, boxing promoter and Islington Gooner saying agents have told him that some US negotiator working for the team has been taking so long to make decisions, players have become fed up and gone elsewhere. Many reports say we are in for Mata, Alvarez, Cahill but things went wrong.
    Could a certain Mr Laws have a flawed negotiating technique in his present environment? He certainly upset Bolton, a club we have recently had fairly good relationships with. Has our new owner put people in place more used to dealing with sports and business attitudes from across the Atlantic? Have they taken too much control away from Wenger to the detriment of all?
    Maybe the money is there, Wenger is the manager most on this board think he is but the club have employed management staff who maybe less than competent in their roles?

  • bob

    Dan AKA,
    Just to point out, The Truth, you are chiming in on the current media talking point that Arsene is and/or has been Arsenal’s dictator. So, it’s first Iraq, then Egypt, then Libya, and now Arsenal is it? Our Stalin? Our Kim Il-sung? Down with The Dictator of Arsenal. Yes, Dan, I think you’ve got something going on. Let’s roll!

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd, Anne,
    Remember the photo this summer when Arsene and Dein were vacationing on the yacht. I would have given everything to be the fly on the wall in that conversation. Who was discussing/threatening/sifting what? And, of course, whether the role of Dein the Lesser as Cesc’s and RvP’s agent was under discussion in terms of the hammer lock that Dein/Usmanov may have or have had or might have had on Arsene and AFC’s future. No one was that fly on the wall, but if AW were to retire today, or were forced to retire, he has a wonderful place to land – namely, his memoirs – if, that is, he can live to tell the tales! Arsene surely knows, but not necessarily in the way that some powers that be would appreciate. That said, he’s the man for our club. (Unless as the papers might have leaked the other day, Ancelotti is already there, waiting in the wings.) Let’s see what the signings bring and how AW sits/stands/or falls in their wake. Vigilance! And long live AW, our coach!

  • bob

    Many Dodd,
    Also, the press reported that Law was unable to close Campbell in El Salvador at first – the time when Campbell didn’t even show up at the meeting. If Law or whoever (American?) is seen as dropping the ball, intentionally or not, and ruining the possibility of key signings, then is the return of Dein the Greater, or someone like him, far away? Law lately is increasingly coming into focus in the press (the Guardian’s Amy Lawrence, for instance) as the other fall guy – Arsene and Law. Let’s closely watch what the signings now bring. Lots of moving parts to be sure in a very intense game within the game.

  • JP

    I’m reasonably certain that the Board are trying to cajole AW into resigning. At the end of last season Mr Gazidis said that he could only envisage AW leaving if he lost the support of the fans. It seemed on odd thing to say, not least because the stipulation played straight into the hands of the more vociferous sceptics, effectively empowering them. The apparently chaotic summer transfer sagas have only increased my suspicion that AW is being set up, and is now taking the predictable flak. Like Othello did Desdemona, AW loves Arsenal “not wisely, but too well”, and he is too loyal, too dignified, to point fingers elsewhere. Where is his public support, now that he needs it more than ever ?
    This has all the hallmarks of a senior corporate dismissal.

  • melaku

    Wenger is not a useless manager. Infact he is our legend. And for that matter any clubs would like to have him in the blink of an eye if he leave Arsenal. But, the only question I have to him is ” why on earth he opt for such an open play knowing he doesn’t have his first choice players. Imagine what Ferguson will do if he was in Wenger position. But the only justification I assumed till this date is that he wants to pile a pressure on the board by helping the humilated defeat. What do you think? This will support your point too Tony.

    In Wenger we trust.

  • Cape Gooner

    @Mandy Dodd
    August 31st, 2011 at 3:19 pm I think many of us have felt something has not been right somewhere for a while, even the players have lately seemed sppooked.

    I’m sure you are right. AA should have been sent off after 35 minutes! Is that the behaviour one would expect from a player of his experience? And RvP’s penalty? Was that a physical cock up or was it mental?

    If there is any truth in what I am saying, how can there be any blame to be laid at the door of the less experienced players?

  • alireza fayyazmanesh

    I have already said sacking Wenger is not Arsenals solution at the moment. the problem is the this club is became as a feeding clubs i many way. and another problem is Wenger never tolk to the fans, he is always the professor, who knew everything and the fans are good only to se the game, fans need the manager tolk to them and share the problems, then we can better understand who is responsible for this failures year after year. the cosequence of all these problems and failures is where we are now. unfortunately the board and mangaer consider fans a bunch of fools. lets hope they make it right again. Good luck to Arsenal and fans

  • bob

    Perhaps the Board was, as JP suggests, setting Arsene up to fail (and Gazidis bizarre comment being exhibit A) as their own calculated move away from the sustainability model. AND, perhaps Arsene’s loss at OT was his way to pressure the board into finally making some signings as in – if you don’t make signings and get rid of me now, this is what you shall inherit – a relegation club. This said, in this Robert Ludlum novel of a present moment, I found Arsene’s comment that there are 20 people working on the signings so it’s not all down to him, also uncharacteristic of him and possibly pointing a finger to there being, among those 20, a force which – whether through incompetence or intent – was obstructing the signings that he wanted, even as the press was painting him as all-powerful and too stubborn to sign anyone. Arsene, you are in the truth, and the truth will set you and AFC free. Courage! You have massive support. It’s time everyone smelled the coffee and demonstrate it.

  • Desmond

    I’m not sure if the board is really against AW… this all seems too far fetched and kind of like a conspiracy theory to me..

  • Shard

    With all these signings and departures, what of our HomeGrown quota requirement?

  • bob

    Desmond,
    It doesn’t have to be all the board; just a faction of the board. And calling something a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean there’s not a conspiracy. But if coincidence is your drink of choice, bottoms up, mate. (p.s. I’d like it all to be make nice and ideal, but lets not lie to ourselves. There’s been something going on that is not (or actually is) business as usual, and some of us have the desire to at least look beyond surface comforts. If you have a coincidence theory to advance, why not argue on its behalf. Labeling questioning as conspiracy theory is just so tired, if not worse.

  • Desmond

    Bob,
    What I meant was it’s a bit of a wild guess to say something like that. I agree there could and in most likelihood as in any organisation, be politicking at work. What we do know is there is some kind of a power struggle within the board, though the details are unknown to us. But where is the evidence that the board has something against Wenger and as suggested by some trying to force Wenger to resign? Was this inferred based on a photo of Wenger spending his holiday with Dein? And as Tony mentioned, we don’t have the information, so how can we point fingers at the board and suggest they might have something against AW?

  • bob

    Tony,
    You mention a shareholder’s agenda. Now let’s say that the current big shareholders have taken big hits in the stock market, etc. Would it be too much to conjecture that one or more of them needs to cash in on their Arsenal position and that only one or two, shall we see, are flush enough money-wise to have weathered even the current economic storm and are poised to buy, say, a North London football club on the cheap(er)? I’m wondering if that thought’s between the lines above, or is too outside the box?

  • bob

    Desmond,
    I fully agree that we, you and I don’t know. There is no evidence, yet; alas, only tea leaves to read. But we both do agree there’s some kind of struggle going on at the board level, and, yes, behind the scenes. Now don’t misrepresent what I’m saying: I do not say the board has a unified anti-AW position. But my logic suggests that it is at least to someone’s (or some faction’s) interest on the board (or with ties into the board) to bring down AW; who, as we both know, has stood solid for the sustainability model as opposed to the zillionaire takeover model. Now, in all honesty, do you think that there is no one on the present board who would find it in his/her interest to give Arsene the sack? Especially if Arsene is opposed to their core philosophy and economic strategies? Just how far-fetched is this, mate? Would you answer me that one? It’s only a hypothesis. That’s all anyone can do in this moment. You’d rather not hypothesize? Well, fair play then.

  • Notoverthehill

    Bob!

    The Spanish Press had a fuller picture of Mr Wenger (well clear of) and Mr David Dein (looking rather worried, boarding that particular yacht. The timing would appear to click in with the French Winter Olympic Games bid that was held in South Africa. Mr Wenger went to South Africa to help the French bid, which failed.

    Red & White Holdings used David Dein to trawl for all available shares and Dein as a former Director was the ideal man. Red & White Holdings I would suggest are seeking to go over the 30% share-holding. There are atg least 3 Alisher Usmanov, that is why I always refer to Mr Alisher B Usmanov! The reason is that one of other Alisher Usmanov is called and cited as a terrorist in Usbekistan and Mr A B Usmanov is blamed for all the illegal activities of the criminal Alisher Usmanov (thanks to the American and British Embassies in Tshkent). From the available information David Dein has for a long time has had no further part in Red & White Holdings.

    Both Kroenke Sports Enterprises and Red & White Holdings interest in the Arsenal Holdings would appear to be, too eventually sell at a very ptofitable return. David Dein brought both these companies to Arsenal Holdings, and both have now rejected him. Mr A B Usmanov’s interest in The Arsenal may well have been because his stepson Anton Viner, studied in London back in 1990-1992. Both Mr A B Usmanov and his wife Mrs Viner are very influential in the Russian Fencing and Gymnastic fields respectively. I could go further but would point out that Mr A B Usmanov is a very astute business man, who because of the Jewish background of both parties, was forced to choose Russian citizenship.

    It has been a very difficult summer for The Arsenal for very obvious reasons at both Board and Playing level.

  • Let’s assume everyone on the board has the best interests of the football club at heart.
    Depending on whether you are a business person or a football person you will have wildly differing priorities.
    The former will see that if we offer Nasri £180k a week, we have to renegotiate RvP’s contract so he gets £160k a week and the whole thing descends into a farce where we go bankrupt.
    The latter will see that if we don’t offer Nasri £180k a week and he leaves then we have to find a comparable player who we can afford, in order to replace him.
    Everyone is probably agreed that sacking Wenger might be a short term solution to falling attendances but that finding a better manager is probably impossible and attendances would then permanently slump.

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Hey Bob

    Some ppl might be against wenger and I may believe it. And the reason being the change in wage structure. I distinctly remember Arsenal paying highest or second highest wage bills in the country. It might be the case that since he wanted the wage cap to be increased, the club may be finding it against the self sustaining model and a major revamp.

    But is it possible that Wenger did not want to sell Nasri and he was forced to do so. And then he might have postponed deals in anger. And only when we lost so bad he might have said yes.. Or the other way around, Board was taking time and now they said yes..

    Lastly is it possible that Wenger was trying some players like Traore for the last match and now he was sure that he is not any good..

  • bob

    Woolwich,
    I agree that’s a sound analysis on Nasri, etc., as a dividing issue. Whether or not there’s full agreement on AW’s future, short/medium/long term is more problematic to me. That is, someone in the press 2-3 days ago dropped Ancelloti’s name as a possible replacement waiting in the wings. That’s what frightens me, I confess. That there’s perhaps a scenario with the successor already chosen. What do you think?

    Notoverthehill,
    Just for clarity sake, are you saying that Arsene’s having French Winter Olympics business and his being on the yacht with Dein are in no way connected or in some way connected? Also, cheers for the interesting context on the big shareholders and their both? rejection of Dein. Are you saying that there’s no longer any connection between Usmanov and Dein the Father?

  • bob

    Hey Abishar,
    Lot’s of fertile thinking there, for sure. We do know that money is always at the root – or is the root :). It’s interesting that the rifts in the board seem greater (or more in the media) now that there’s a lot of money coming in from the x-Cesc/Nari’s sales. Or, perhaps that money, being on the way has healed some of the rifts. Who can really say? We’ll all know a lot more when we can start to assess what has finally happened after 11pm tonight, and the window comes crashing down with a thud. The shockwaves from that thud will be there to analyze all too soon. What is exciting here at UA is that we have good minds capable of thinking about the links that actually do exist between what’s going on behind the scene and what appears on the pitch, from refs to signings. This is a good place to be. Vigilance!

  • bob

    p.s. sorry, mate! Abhishek! (my bad…!)

  • UMOH EKWO

    Well your points are noted but we do not have any other person to blame than Wenger. Since last season, he never believed there was deficiency in the team even in the defense where every body could see. After the departure of Clichy, Wenger said he was not going to sign a left back because he already had replacement. Several times, he has said that he has quality players in the defense. He was even quoted early this season saying he was going to challenge for the league tittle with the present team. After the Man U massacre, Wenger was quoted as saying that it was because of injuries and suspensions that made the team lose yet, we all saw that with the full strength of Arsenal’s present team, they would have still lost to Man U. Now tell me, if the Boss could not see anything wrong with the team the way it was so as to demand re enforcement with new players, what did you expect the board to do in that direction?

  • bob

    Umho Ekwo,
    I agree that these are failures. I’ll go back to the failure to spend during January transfer window as the immediate beginning of today’s problems on the pitch. Is this all on AW? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Do you really think that this man is that blind to what you and I can see, end of story? We do not actually know, I submit, how the change of ownership has played out in what AW can or cannot do. And what he says in public does not necessarily mean it’s what he thinks or wants to do with the club. We are kept in the dark, purposefully, and only can read the tea leaves. But I’m sure we both know enough not to trust the surface appearance of things; and to know that those surfaces are most often the results of the background politics and often cover up or reflect compromises that conceal those politics. AW is the man out front, and must, as a public figure, take the heat and the hate. But I cannot any more with absolute knowledge than you can. Anyway, let’s stay in contact here and assess what has happened after 11pm tonight when the window closes and what it tells us about AW and the Board and what we think as been going on. Otherwise, if we don’t, the media will tell it to us. Then we’re really in the ___ you know what. Cheers.

  • bob

    Umoh Ekho,
    I agree that IF Arsene can’t see something, then how could the board? But what if Arsene knows what you and I don’t, that what he sees has to work within the parameters that the board has set for him? The model of Arsene knows everything and the Board knows nothing seems too simplistic to me. Would you, as an investor, not be able to have your own eyes and ears watching and analyzing and reporting on what’s happening on the pitch and its implications for the investment? How can we just assume total ignorance and total passivity and total trust in the manager on the part of a multi-millionaire with the ability to hire his own eyes and ears. We cannot buy into the completely ignorant investor any more than we should buy into the Arsene has total power or omniscience. We don’t see the complexity in large because we are not meant to see it; and, in large part because it’s easier to then see what appears on the surface and call it truth. As in media truth.

  • ak47

    couldnt have said it better myself jp, exactly what i have been thinking.

  • FinnGooner

    Any chance that when Wenger has said “We don’t need new players, we have good and full team” it’s been part of media game. Meaning if he gives impression to selling club “we would like to buy this player, we might not even need him but here is our offer. Take it or leave it” and gets other club believe that if they don’t take the offer Arsene/Arsenal don’t buy the player and accepts lower offer than if they know Arsenal is desperate to get that player whatever he costs?

  • C4

    I wonder if this is the extent of the signings for the coming season, AW said he wanted 3 players, if I recall correctly. I would have been happy to see an experienced creative midfielder coming in, but it’s possible he may see that as a hindrance to the development of Jack and Aaron. With both of them fit, there’s a fair amount of creativity in the side, although maybe not as much experience as we might like. And with a board that may be reluctant to let go of cash, there’s a good chance that with these 3 signings, that’s it.
    Off topic, has anyone seen what the media frenzy has been like over the last 2 days? It’s been insane. Pity in the midst of it all, there’s been less attention given to issues such as this one that I came across on Sky:
    And a sub-heading which says: France midfielder says he still ‘loves’ Arsenal
    And yet when they quote his tweet, it says: “This tweet is for the English newspapers – stop trying to make something between me and Arsenal. I love this club and everything around it.”
    And the sub-heading sums up exactly what he’s talking about.

  • C4

    Please excuse the mess I made with the link above, but you get the idea…

  • Jmotion

    Spot on! I hope that all the fans will get 100% behind the team this season and welcome all the new players including any aging stars that join us. They will all fight for Arsenal and need our support.

    At the end of the season we will have the opportunity to lobby for change at board level and ownership in time to spend big in next summers transfers.

    The boo boys should take note – if they keep up the negative stance, they will demotivate the team and staff further and may force a change that will not help the season or the future of the club – save that energy for May 2012 when it will be welcome!

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    I don’t know much about the home grown quota, to tell you the truth. Could you fill me in on that?

  • Anne

    @Tony:

    I think that looking at these issues with the board is well worthwhile. We know that there have been a lot of shake-ups recently, and we don’t know what the motives are of all of the different parties involved. Personally, I still can’t even comprehend what the reasoning was for selling Cesc and Nasri. Questions worth asking, I think.

  • XX

    JUST CURIOUS. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE WENGER’S WEAKNESSES. IT WOULD BE GREAT TO SEE THIS BLOG WITH AN ARTICLE ON THAT…

  • Laundryender

    I am happy to see Tony (whom i admire hugely just for this blog) admit to the fact that all is not as well as it could be at the Emirates.

    But I agree, there are clearly huge forces at play in the background, these may have implications for the resources available, but i doubt they have input into tactics and training. These I am sure are still the domain of the manager, and should rightly come under scrutiny for performances since the CC Final debacle!

  • Phil

    Tony is a jewell.
    What is playing on my mind was a comment last weekend that Ars don’t have any of their former greats in any positions on the board or at senior levels of prestige or influence. This is a disgrace. Thinking it through, how is it possible that Man City have the foresite and goid grace to offered one of our greatest players Patrick Viera a position of prestige and status. Where is the equivalent at Arsenal. And it’s not just Man City. All the greatest European Clubs treat their former greats with the respect that they earned and deserve. Is it a coincidence that Cruyff and Gardiola have created and are running an extraordinary football dynasty, while Arsenal allow a giant like Tony Adams to trawl through the hinterland insearch of experience. And Charlie George ushers tourists around on stadium visits for tourists, like show pony. Do you think that Milan will get Inzaghi or Maldini to do that for them? And Dennis the great. What have our esteemed board if directors got planned to reinforce his legacy with our club. As far as the present goes it’s SFA.
    I think Tony is right, he usually is. There is something wrong at board level. It’s the board. They have no soul and treat all the great players if the past like mugs, or more to the point like servants. Why do Paul Merson, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright, Nigel W, etc etc etc have no say whatsoever in the direction of the club that they built the brand value of? No other great sporting team on earth treats their former great players with this kind of disdain. I for one have seen through it and have had enough.
    I’ll still support the team and our manager but not the board/owners/shareholders with my money. No effing way mate.

  • Kentetsu

    This sentence from Dan AKA sums it all up: “with the exception of Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger enjoys more control over Arsenal’s affairs than any Premier League manager”. He’s saying that SAF has more control over Arsenal’s affairs than Wenger, and he might even be right.

  • Sean

    Picking up suspensions as if it’s going out of fashion can’t help.
    Four in three league games isn’t it?

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    @Phil – I take your point, but the club does employ Liam Brady, Pat Rice in important posts, while Bob Wilson was compère for part of the time at Members’ Day again this year (not sure if he is on the books, or does it gratis).

    Adams is out getting experience in the Wild East after his (less than successful) stint at Portsmouth, as he clearly wants to manage AFC at some point, but knows he doesn’t have the chops for it yet. Adams has spoken at length about how he has the opportunity to build from the ground up there – maybe he knows that nothing flourishes under the shade of the great oak, and he needs his own little patch to work out how to become a great manager in the AW mould? (Other titans of the game such as Guardiola must surely also be in the frame to manage AFC before Adams would get a look-in, which kind of shows how stiff the competition will be for anyone aspiring to take the job on post-Wenger in any case.)

    And of course Thierry Henry, who hasn’t even retired yet, has said that he’d come back to AFC in a heart beat, in any capacity, including water bottle carrier.

    Others such as Bergkamp and Vieira and Dixon and Wright go off to try out various things (university degree/$teal our players for the $heikh$/play golf/sit on tv sofas), and only Keown seems to be agitating to get a foot in the door. A lot of players don’t have any interest in management/coaching, since they are already minted, and couldn’t be bothered with all the stress/hard work/poential for heart attack.

    Who knows whether Charlie George finds it insulting to be in the club’s employ, as you seem to imply, giving stadium tours? All work is honourable, is it not, and maybe he enjoys keeping in touch with his old team, getting to hear first-hand the gossip behind the scenes? George is of an era when players weren’t as ludicrously/fabulously rewarded as they are now, so perhaps as a 60-year-old, he just likes earning a bit of extra cash for a few hours work a week, and meeting a new generation of fans?

  • Anne

    @Kentetsu:

    Interesting.

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    @Phil again – I forgot Steve Bould, of course, who has been working with the Arsenal youth for ten years.

  • @Clerkenwell Gooner,
    Too many people forget Steve Bould!
    Wright/Keown/Dixon are all too interested in their media careers, Dixon is a Man City fan to boot, Wrighty is a Palace fan IIRC. Keown has obviously come in to do a bit of coaching in the past but it would seem his approach to defensive coaching doesn’t work with our setup.
    Which is not to denigrate a club legend but to point out that in his day things were a bit different. He may even have got more out of the experience than the club did.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    While I love a good conspiracy theory, I am inclined to prefer the heuristic approach based on Occam’s razor that posits : ¨when faced with competing hypotheses that are equal in other respects, select the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.¨ Therefore, in our board analogy, it would maintain that there are few if any clandestine or conspiratorial machinations and that what seems to be happening is.

  • bob

    Don,
    To each his own, but Occam’s razor doesn’t hold a candle to any Robert Ludlum conspiracy novel or, for that matter, daily issue of the Financial Times for cutting to the chase of what makes the world go round. With respect, all’s not what it seems in our little board room and by invoking Occam’s razor you make an act of faith. I will bet you the farm that in six months time at least some of the background will come to the surface that you wish to accept as reality. Let’s agree to periodically revisit your assertion that “what seems to be happening is.” Now, what is it, by the way, that “seems to be happening” – I can’t know what you mean by that unless you spell it out. Anyway, stay in touch.

  • Phil

    @Clerkenwell Gooner
    A sound and rational explanation. Yes I forgot to mention Steve Bould who does a fantastic job. But I am still struggling with the board – Mr Wenger demands and seems to have conrol of the team, but I sometimes wonder if the board have more control over him than he would admit to. It’s like they let him think he has all that clout. But let’s not foget that when they axed Dein, I think Arsene was truly shocked and weakened.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I think the issues to do with Wenger’s management are mostly associated with the following issues;

    1. He has shown himself over his reign less decisive in managing trnasformations of the defence than of the midfield and attack.
    2. He has shown a greater disinterest in the value of more mature players, particularly over 30, something not shown by Man Utd. Many feel this has impacted on trophy destinations…..
    3. He has shown less perception in choosing his captains than some of his fellow managers since the departure of Vieira.
    4. He has chosen a different salary structure than other clubs, which may affect squad morale and squad quality.
    5. He has not proactively sought to build an Arsenal side around a core of home countries talent, inheriting those he used in the early years and only in the past year having more than one in the side on a regular occasion. Some feel this is an unwise move in the English Premier League…..
    6. He was reluctant to generate commercial revenues through pre-season tours to Asia/USA when the quality of the side would have justified it (2002 – 2006). Whether Arsenal were at that time capable of exploiting such pitch-level quality on the commercial side is something rarely discussed by many fans…..

    Against that, he has had the following constraints beyond his control (or were they?):
    1. A financing structure for Emirates stadium which left Arsenal’s commercial deals for shirt and stadium sponsorship uncompetitive as globalisation of the EPL and ECL has accelerated.
    2. Commercial income way down compared to Man Utd (now >£100m pa in their case).
    3. An ownership saga taking place in the past 5 years which mirrored that of Man Utd when Arsenal were last the dominant force which may or may not have been harmful but is rarely a force for success on its own.
    4. A media more openly hostile to Wenger’s Arsenal than to Ferguson’s Utd with the obvious strains on the manager as a result.
    5. An unlucky run of injuries to players on international duty, which hopefully have nothing to do with the murkier sides to professional sport.

    To judge the manager, in my judgement the following are key:

    1. Who determined the salary structure and when/how it is reviewed?
    2. Who does the transfer negotiations since David Dein left?
    3. Are Wenger’s back-room staff complementary to him in temperament and ability or mouthpieces for him?
    4. Would Wenger ‘splash the cash’ if the commercial organisation underpinning the football club were to rival those of Man Utd or Man City?
    5. Is Wenger a manager sufficiently detached from his players to move them on and give them firm direction if required?

    From the outside, it’;s impossible to discern all that with certainty. One can have opinions, hunches, suspicions.

    If you are a person of integrity, it’s pretty much anathema to call for someone’s head based on hunches. Particularly with a track record of the incumbent as it is…..

    But I have to say that the most obvious interpretation of all that has gone on is this:
    1. Salaries for top players aren’t high enough to attract the very best.
    2. There may need to be more high quality specialist technical input on the training ground.
    3. The balance of temperaments may need slightly more resilience and slightly less creative types within the squad.
    4. The commercial side of the business will determine Arsenal’s ability to compete in the next 10 years.
    5. But that is dependent on the results on the pitch earning the right to superior commercial deals.

    Like most things in a team sport, I suspect that collective responsibility has its role to play in the assignment of guilt.

    The next 8 months will be decisive in determining the long-term occupant of the hot seat…….

    One hopes that it is the board of the football club who take the decisions which should be taken by the Board.

    Since I for one am not of the opinion that Sky Sports or any other media outlet, spread betting fraternities or Billionaire Men’s Club should take decisions on who the manager of the club is, which players play for it, nor who owns it.

    Because those decisions are those of the Board who should answer to the fans of the club which underpin them. Fans which do include those overseas who may purchase media packages but who do not, so far as I am aware, delegate their input to any media organisation from whom they have no choice but to purchase the packages from……..

  • bob

    Rhys,
    You’ve clearly compiled and shared several comprehensive and very thoughtful lists; and I think your insight and thoroughness in defining the present moment and the run up to it are spot on. That said, in terms of the future, I’d be most interested in your further thoughts on: (1) your distinction: “One hopes that it is the board of the football club who take the decisions which should be taken by the Board;” and also, (2) your clarifying this: “Because those decisions are those of the Board who should answer to the fans of the club which underpin them. Fans which do include those overseas who may purchase media packages but who do not, so far as I am aware, delegate their input to any media organisation from whom they have no choice but to purchase the packages from…….” I readily admit to not being the brightest bulb in the chandelier on these internals; but, for this reason, would you to spell these two points (for me and any others who might need them clarified). Please spell out who is included/excluded in what decisions, and why? Cheers.