Good morning people of Le Grove! First up, let’s talk Lady Nina. She’s being hammered for having an opinion this morning. Did no one tell her that was against the rules on social networks? A few years after selling her shares to Stan Kroenke, she critiqued him for having ‘no passion for the game’. Many jumped on her for selling out in the first place, which is a fair comment. However, David Dein did exactly the same and he introduced both of the moguls to the table.
Not to mention… 90% of the Arsenal fanbase were purring over Stan at the time. He was the right man according to many (so, so many). Well, he wasn’t the right man according to us and look where we are now. Hammering someone online for selling a pretty irrelevant chunk of Arsenal to a man with a property portfolio that rivals that of Robbie Fowler. Did anyone see the story about Stan ploughing $132million dollars into a ranch in states? Wow. He’s a tight ass when it comes to football, but when it comes to investing in something of a cowboy nature, he’s the first at the door with the reddies.
I won’t criticism anyone for selling their shares in the club. Lucky for me, Geoff won’t ever sell his share. If he did, I know where it would go. Until you’re in the situation where you’ve got a £17k check sitting in your safe, you have no idea what you’re going to do. If Lady Nina has a different opinion on Stan three years on, that’s totally fair, because most Arsenal fans are exactly the same. If you’re shut out of a club and you have a bundle of cash wrapped up in it, during one of the worst depressions in history… why would you sit on it? The Premiership football is hardly the bedrock of financial stability.
Anyway, it’s irrelevant. Usmanov is still hoovering up shares which he’s hoping will trigger an offer. That’ll be nice and disruptive, it’ll also test Stan’s resolve. Does he really want to continue operating a a club that he doesn’t care about? Wouldn’t he prefer to take a massive profit, the equivalent of 2 mega ranches in Nevada and run? I hope so. I’d rather see someone of questionable character take the club forward off the back of immaculate business prowess. Give me that over the hands off, ‘let it rot’ mindset Stan has.
Ideally. I woudn’t want either. I’d have Danny Fizsman at the club. I’d have the Fanshare scheme on a much larger scale. We’d have a say. The club would listen. We’d have accountability. I think we do well on those things to a certain degree. I think Ivan tries his best to maintain that culture at Arsenal, but ultimately, he’s not in charge until Wenger has used up enough rope to hang up his career boots and leave.
Ultimately, one of the points I was trying to make yesterday was around the manager and the diminishing importance of the role at the top clubs these days. It’s just as much about the team around them as it is the person. Back in the day, Brian Clough would have been doing the majority of everything. Nowadays, clubs can have up to 60 people in their back room teams. Some football clubs take three video analysts to games. They’re doing this stuff at half time. You have highly specialised doctors, you have different types of fitness coach, you have Opta specialists, Prozone guys, you have GPS experts… the list goes on. Everyone does their bit. There many cogs in a success machine. What this does with smaller clubs is give them control. The club is in charge of employing the experts. The days of the 40 man Capello entourage are over. When small clubs sack small managers, they don’t have to foot the bill for the backroom staff as they employ them separately.
That’s the model Arsenal might adopt. That’s unlikely if we bring in Pep Guardiola, but I’d imagine even then, the club are unlikely to bow to his every whim. Pep understands heritage. He’d likely bring a number of his specialist staff, but I doubt he’d be given as much control as Wenger. Maybe thinking outside the mega managers isn’t the worst idea? Football in the UK is finally moving to a place where we have pro licensed coaches. We have managers from lower teams who are regularly outsmarting the managers of big clubs. It’s an exciting place to be. The Premiership hasn’t deteriorated that much, just the quality of manager below the top 4 has improved drastically, as have the teams.
Remember, the big advancement Mourinho brought to the Premiership was taking the American way of doing sport and extrapolating it all over Chelsea’s system. Data driven management. He was one of the first. He just stole the best ideas from the NBA, NFL and Major League and made them his own. If it’s good enough for him, Gazidis should be asking why it’s not good enough for Arsene.
The reason Ivan needs to be asking these question is that he’s trying to sell a club at the moment. Nike are talking about a new deal with Arsenal, but according to people in the know, they’re very much of a take it or leave it attitude. Why wouldn’t they be? What would they be buying into? A club that doesn’t invest in players. A club that doesn’t really boast superstars. A club without trophies.
Remember this, brands buy into successful clubs, not successful balance sheets.
Off topic a bit, but did you read this comment from Robin?
‘I have to thank the manager for his speeches and the way he makes us ready for games. It’s different class.’
‘Those speeches are very important for every single one of us. The things he says and when he says them – before, during or after a game – is all very direct’
That my friends is a direct strike at Wenger and his way with the players. When I said that Wenger doesn’t motivate players the other day, that above comment is exactly what I’m talking about. He doesn’t have the passion to motivate players when they’re on the floor confidence wise. Robin is full of snide jibes like that, just watch out for them as the season goes on.
So onto the podcast. I recorded one with Philippe Auclair last night in Kensington. Finally I’ve cracked sound quality. It was in conjunction with the launch of his fantastic new book on Thierry Henry. It’s a no holds barred account of his life. It really isn’t too kind to him in many places, which I’m sure didn’t sit well with the Frenchman. We talk about French football, we talk about Arsenal and we touch on the Usmanov / Thierry meet yesterday. Any Arsenal fan interested in the view of a writer who helped coin the phrase ‘fox in the box’ should jump into this podcast. I’m trying to make sure everything I do on that front has some sort of legacy. I think this one does, a truly fascinating hour.
Buy the book as well, an excellent Christmas present… links below.