Welcome to the Sunday edition, on the eve of a super exciting trip to Boro.’
So what do we have on today? Well, it looks like the Ivan G power play is starting to slip into the mainstream, and I’m enjoying it even if it does mean Wenger will still stay on beyond his tenure.
Sir Wenger lashed out when asked about structure changes.
‘No. It’s always difficult. We spend a lot of time to focus on things that are superficial – but don’t take care of the essential.’
‘The essential in football is good players on the football pitch, that’s what we have to take care of’
That’s quite an incredible response to a totally fair suggestion. What is essential in football is good players, no doubt about it, that’s absolutely essential. That’s what a sporting director does, that’s what Arsene has been doing very badly over the last few season. So the SD can take care of the essentials. I’m pretty sure a good SD would have favoured Kante over Xhaka, and explained the difference between the two. I’m pretty sure a good SD would have looked at Idrissa Gueye as a second option if a destroyer was on the agenda.
Anyway, point is, an SD would only be superficial at Arsenal because Arsene would try and ignore him. However, if you do bring in a name, give him authority over transfers, allow them to rebuild the coaching staff (firing 5 underperformers in the process) which doubles up as a refresh for more modern thinking, as well as an attack on the power structure. Thierry pointed out something I’ve been hammering home on the podcast… players have no reason to come to Arsenal at the moment, because as a base requirement, players want to improve. Wenger is doing the opposite now and it’s impacting the players who want to join us. We’re going from M’Bappe, to Jordan Pickford. Names that just want more money.
An SD can bring in names that are higher quality – and here’s the thing – part of a larger vision of the sort of football the club want to play. Wenger doesn’t sign players as part of a bigger strategic vision. He just buys the names he likes. He doesn’t buy a player who will in 2 years replace Santi. He doesn’t think about the sort of experience he needs now. He doesn’t bank on older players giving him less games. He doesn’t think about leaders. He doesn’t think about the physicality he needs to succeed. An SD can take care of that, whilst also acting as a filter for bringing in the best technologies, the most innovative staff, and overall just making the managers job about game day.
There was talk of Marc Overmars the other day, and I initially brushed it off as boring. I had in my head he’d be part of the system and come in as a paid yes man. Well, upon further research (I mean, one article), it appears that he, along with Edwin VDS, has played a huge role in transforming Ajax into a club that might make the semi finals of the Europa League this season. Marc Overmars playing a pivotal role as the man pulling the strings with the players. Robert Pires feels like a disaster waiting to happen, because he has nothing to fall back on to fight Wenger. At least Marc Overmars has experience. I’d still prefer that a club of our stature go for the best, but if you believe in layering the Marble Halls with football knowledge and heritage, then he’d be a very interesting option.
Anyway, back to the chipping away at Wenger… that story is obviously irking him. But the snippet about wages is also telling. This is Wenger on Sanchez:
“You have many different opinions. Some people tell me: ‘Just give him what he wants.’ But then you cannot respect anymore any wage structure and you put the club in trouble as well. You have to make the decision in an objective way. The club always has to be the priority. I understand top players are a big priority but, even for important players, you can only pay as much as you can afford.”
Read into the above as this: ‘If it’s more money than me, then it’s not happening.’ What really rankles me about this sort of chat is Wenger is all about the wage structure until it involves his greedy pay packet. Literally, the man pleading poverty through the stadium move, only to reveal he didn’t need a bonus because he was pocketing 10% of the total wage budget as a top 3 in the world manager. Market rate only works for him… because he asks 100% above it and lands it.
I digress, later transcripts had him down as saying this on talk of a potential £300k a week contract for Alexis.
‘First of all I cannot confirm that we have offered that. Secondly we will do as we always do, we will consider our financial potential to sustain the wages for the whole squad.’
Now, we can all read into this because it’s a narrative we like, but it’s great that Wenger doesn’t know what’s going on with the wages. Firstly, because that’s none of his fucking business. Secondly, here’s the thing, if Ivan has done a bit of a research and spoken to people who work with players who earn big wages, he’ll learn this:
It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. The best players want to come into work every day with the best talent in the world. It makes them better, it gives them more opportunity to win things and it’s a massive boost to them because it says something about where you’re plying your trade.
Wenger just makes up this destabilisation comment. Sure, some might grumble, but who at Arsenal would have the temerity to ask for more? It’s already on record that we pay the average players too much. If Theo comes in and demands £300k a week, tell him to leave immediately, and find the club will to offer it. Won’t happen.
This is a prime example of Wenger making you believe something because it suits him. If disproportionate wages were a problem, then how come the biggest clubs in the world with the biggest wage disparities always seem to win things? I tell you what’s been a bigger issue over the years, a socialist wage structure that hasn’t allowed us to keep the best players. While Fergie was keeping squad players like John O’Shea going on £20k a week, for the honor of being average at a club winning things, we were dropping £52k a week on Nik B and $65k a week on Diaby. Tell me that’s good for morale as Cesc walks out the door?
The biggest drain on any elite organsiation is propping up average. That’s something Wenger has done for years. That’s why we are where we are.
If Ivan is taking things into his own hands, good for him. Let’s hope some of the other decisions that are happening are down to him as well.
I’ll talk more on that tomorrow. See you in the comments, listen to the damn podcast.