By Tony Attwood
One of the unsung benefits of Mr Wenger signing a two year deal, is that it gives the club plenty of time to set up some changes to the staffing ready for the manager who will take over after Mr Wenger departs.
This can be particularly beneficial for, as Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool! have all found to their cost in recent years, and indeed as Liverpool! found out with 11 managers between 1990 and 2015 and Tottenham found even more, with 21 managers between 1991 and 2014, bringing in a new manager can work, but most of the time, it doesn’t work.
Proper preparation for the managerial change is never a bad idea, and I think it is good to see that forthcoming appointment of Darren Burgess as a new director of high performance. Darren Burgess is currently working with Port Adelaide (the Australian Rules club) in Australia, and it is being said that he was specifically chosen by Mr Wenger.
The arrangement was apparently brokered by Ivan Gazidis with the arrangement that Darren Burgess will report directly to the manager. However there is the suggestion that Darren Burgess will stay in Australia until the end of the Australian Rules season there in September.
It appears that Darren Burgess will oversee all areas on the technical side of the club apart from scouting, which starts with StatDNA and goes on through Arsenal’s own scouting team. Mr Burgess is also regarded as one of the very top experts in fitness and conditioning in sport. As such he will have overall control of medical matters, player fitness, psychology which is increasingly becoming seen as a highly significant part of football performance, and the analysis of performance at Arsenal.
Indeed in a very real sense this is the completion of the work that began with the purchase of StatDNA itself as it now gives Arsenal the highest possible level of information and analysis across all aspects of football.
It may well of course result in a number of bloggettas and newspapers rehashing their old “most injuries in the football league” stories, and TalkSport will probably get their favourite anti-Wengerian Stuart Robson back on for another rant or five. But we’ve heard all that before, and as ever, just saying the same old things over and over doesn’t make them true.
The move means that fitness coach Tony Colbert, whom the media had suggested might be under threat of dismissal, will stay, working under Darren Burgess. Also staying will be Shad Forsythe, the head of head of athletic performance enhancement who prior to 2014 worked with the German national team.
The Australian media (which I tend to keep an eye on as a result of my annual visits to see my daughter in Sydney) are also suggesting that Burgess will return to Port Adelaide in October and November to help plan the club’s pre-season programme and to help the recruitment process to replace him. In fact in total Burgess will return to Alberton four times this year to manage the Power’s training program in the run to the finals and during the major round in September, if the team qualifies for the top eight.
There is also talk in the Australian media of an international partnership between the clubs which Ivan Gazidis will be involved in negotiating.
Port chief executive Keith Thomas is quoted in the local media as saying, “Arsenal have indicated their desire to be part of a new collaborative partnership with Port Adelaide in a range of areas including sports science, professional development and international growth. That brings some amazing opportunities with it and we look forward to putting that arrangement in place as soon as we can. It’s part of our ongoing journey and desire to becoming a world class sports organisation.”
Burgess has also indicated his reluctance to leave, however. “Reaching this decision has been one of the toughest decisions in my professional career”, he told the local media although one might say, “well he would say that locally wouldn’t he?”
Continuing Burgess said, “My family loves the lifestyle of Adelaide,” (and that I can understand) and more importantly we love everything about the Port Adelaide Football Club.
“When the opportunity came up to return to Port Adelaide, I had no hesitation in returning. Port Adelaide is like family and once you’ve worked in this environment with so many outstanding people it is very difficult to leave.
“It’s especially difficult knowing the club is on the right path for sustained success both on and off the field.”
“It was a once-in-a-career opportunity,” Burgess said at Alberton on Monday night after the Power secured a deal with Arsenal to keep the fitness guru involved in club programs, particularly in China, for the next two years.
And since the top 8 position of the AFL now has some importance to Arsenal, here it is
|#||Team||P||W||D||L||Total Points||For/Ag %||Pts|
|2.||Greater Western Sydney||12||9||0||3||1202:1033||116.36||36|
|4.||Port Adelaide Power||12||7||0||5||1262:939||134.40||28|
|7.||West Coast Eagles||12||7||0||5||1066:1039||102.60||28|
Please don’t ask me what the “Total points” and “For/Against %%” columns mean. And if you do, I won’t tell you. But if someone else would like to explain, that would be most helpful, and will allow me to expand my sporting conversations when I go back next time.
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