By Tony Attwood
“‘An absolute mess’: Inside Arsenal, a ‘dysfunctional’ club desperate for a reset.” So reads the headline to an article in the Independent website. And it continues, “The very structure of the club is in question with problems mounting for head coach Mikel Arteta as he bids to return them to where they believe they belong.”
They list the fact that Arsenal have players who need to be moved on, but who they can’t find takers for, and speak vaguely about “years of poor planning.”
And they say, “Mislintat has told people Arsenal are an “absolute mess”, “dysfunctional and with no clear plan”. And yes we can believe that. It is the sort of thing bitter people do.
And yes, as ever in such pieces there are contradictions, It is said that Mislintat “felt the scouting structure was way too bloated, and that not enough of the many individuals involved were working towards any unifying idea. He tried to considerably trim it down, only to be blocked by head of football Raul Sanllehi.”
Except that this is exactly what has happened; a lot of scouts have gone. The club did what he wanted.
He also brought in the players he wanted. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Konstantinos Mavropanos and he was part of the three-man panel that appointed head coach Unai Emery to succeed Arsene Wenger. The suggestion is that he was also part of the group that worked to edge Arsene Wenger out. That’s a pretty big area of influence to have, and it makes the subsequent criticisms look a bit suspect – almost as if he is trying to cover his own mistakes.
Obviously he doesn’t really want to be remembered as the person who pushed out Wenger and brought in Emery only for him to be moved again – because the instability of three managers in a couple of years is surely at the heart of Arsenal’s problems. It has cost them a fortune, and given them instability.
What’s more Mislintat was not a total miracle maker in the transfer market. Yes he brought in Leno – a great player. But he also gave us Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Aubameyang was a superb buy, but a contractual nightmare in every club he had been with, and now a problem for Arsenal as well. Mavropanos managed seven games and is now out on loan.
And as so often with people who bitch and moan after leaving a job, nothing is every his fault in his eyes. Instead unnamed sources are used to pour scorn on the club. “The recruitment is being done by people who’ve never been specialists in recruitment. Their contracts are being done by a guy who worked in cycling. So at a time when they need to be careful with money, they’ve put the investment of transfer funds into the hands of people who haven’t done it before.”
Yep, rather like all those criticisms of people who brought in Arsene Who. And all this in a season when we have brought in Gabriel Martinelli – a player who first went to Manchester United and they turned him down. I suppose he just came to us because he was in London and saw the name of the underground station.
But he goes on and on and on. “They have a ‘big-time’ set-up in terms of their key figures, and how they operate, but it’s completely toothless because they don’t have ‘big-time’ money. You see Raul in a director’s box at the Clasico, and it looks great, but all he’s going to sign is the rejects of either of those two teams.”
Well, yes, up to a point. But you see, Barcelona don’t have any money either and are in real financial trouble; there are bargains to be had. Besides which Arsene Wenger helped finance Arsenal by selling players like Henry to Barcelona towards the end of their career, for far more than they were worth.
So while everyone at Arsenal raves over Martinelli and Leno, unknown signings for Arsenal, the Independent suggests that, “The criticism is that the management is obsessed with “big names” and so have an unbalanced squad”. And into this mix there is the statement that “One connected figure feels Everton would have been a much better option for Arteta’s career, even if it meant waiting two seasons.”
Thus we are told we have a wreck of a club and a manager who is told to get out as fast as poss. And three issues arise from this.
One is, is it true, or is it just the sort of thing we have heard for years from the media? The second is, if it is true, how did it get this way? And the third is, if it is true, how do we get out of it?
The first thing to note is that the criticisms of who Arsenal sign have been there at least since the late 1990s with all the foreign players Arsenal signed. In may seem strange now but the media went berserk in 1996 when Arsenal signed “Arsene who” as manager and he directed the signing Gislason, Lukic, Garde, Vieira, and Anelka. No one apologised later when Vieira became probably the most stunning purchase ever, and Anelka the most profitable.
So criticism of players and the structure is nothing new. Yes the top management of Arsenal have messed things up by giving into media pressure by moving on Mr Wenger and his team, when waiting one more year would have seen their contracts run out. Also by selecting a manager and ditching him six months before the end of his contract cost the club another fortune.
If there is a lesson to be learned it is a) stop listening to the media, b) stop taking note of the placards people wave. And be careful who you give top management jobs to.
- Player errors that lead to a goal; it is not quite what you might expect
- How Arsenal can tackle football’s Ministry of Truth and get back to the Champs League
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP