Ivan Gazidis has been desperately trying to claw back some credibility for his ‘catalyst for change’ comments after being publicly neutered by Stan and Arsene after they both decided bros before CEOs, and inked 2 more years in private.
The club announced two new hires via The Telegraph and various other outlets more interested in the story, over actually exploring what it meant. The first ‘big name’ was Team Sky’s legal and commercial expert Huss Fahmy, who has been brought in to work on player contracts.
‘Fahmy has been a key part of Team Sky’s operation since around its inception in 2010 after moving to Sky the previous year from the City where he worked for the multi-national law firm Herbert Smith.’
If you were wondering why the hell we need another lawyer, you’d not be alone.
This is Jeremy Wilson’s inside take on it:
‘Fahmy will work closely at Arsenal with Gazidis and contract negotiator Dick Law, who will remain at the club in at least the short-term. Law and Gazidis tend to work more directly in the early stages of a deal either through their contacts with agents or other club executives, while Fahmy is initially expected to be more prominently involved with closing negotiations. At Team Sky, he worked on rider contracts from start to finish of the process. ‘
The article then goes on to cite the problem we’ve been suffering.
‘Arsenal’s handling of player contracts is under particular scrutiny this summer amid negotiations with an unusually large group of players with only one year left on their contracts, notably Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szczesny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.’
I find it extremely disingenuous to pin our contract issues on Dick Law. A player either wants to sign, or they don’t. Arsenal have the money, or they don’t. The reality here is Wenger is kingmaker. A new lawyer has the exact same challenges the old one had. If Wenger wanted Chambo to sign, he’d be signed. If we were doing well, Ozil and Sanchez would have inked when they were offered deals in September. Szczesny and Gibbs aren’t contract rebels, they’re a club problem, in the sense the manager didn’t sell them when they were worth something.
Secondly, we’re signing a lawyer from one of the most disgraced sporting teams on the planet right now. He’s been there since 2010. Reputation aside, what does he know about football? We’re removing responsibilities from a guy who helped us land Gilberto when that was a coup, and replacing him with someone who has been dealing with partnerships and pay cheques for cyclists.
This hire is basically part one of a watered down Director of Football. He’ll have no power that isn’t overseen by Arsene Wenger, and he’s not experienced enough in the game to add value to our operation that makes him worth a press release.
Onto the most embarrassing PR fanfare since Arsenal lost their shit over a non-league teenage left back this January.
We’ve hired Port Adelaide’s Performance Director, Darren Burgess.
Now, I’m sure he’s very talented at what he does. He has a good reputation, he has Premier League experience, and he has a big profile online because he talks at a lot of events. Not too surprisingly, I have a number of concerns here.
‘Burgess, who was handpicked by Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, will commence his new role in July.’
3 weeks ago, Wenger hadn’t let anyone at the club know his decision to stay on. 3 weeks later, he’s signed a Performance Director. How did that happen? How many people did he interview? Who spoke to him? Where did Wenger get his time to do his due diligence? How are we sure this guy is the best candidate in the world?
The biggest question I have here is – what issue is Wenger solving with this hire?
I’ll tell you which one. Wenger has signed a guy with limited power to impact his day to day operations. His core team is safe from scrutiny, despite being the weakest at the club. This is an egregious power play designed to con the fans and shift the focus of our issues to a team that’s doing a sterling job.
To give perspective, we’ll have 6 fitness people at the club. Arsenal signed a guy called Shad Forsythe – after years of Wenger being in denial there was a problem with injuries – in 2014. Since then, our players are suffering less soft tissue injuries in spite of a manager who still loves to overplay his team and ignore the realities of the modern game.
The American has been an unsung sensation. Not just that, he’s worked at Bayern Munich and won things. He also oversaw one of the most impressive World Cup wins ever, taking the German national team to a final in some of the most aggressive weather conditions a European team could face (Amy Lawrence gives a rundown here).
As far as I can see, Mr Burgess has a less accomplished resume. His previous experience in the Premier League was working under Hodgson, Rodgers and Dalglish. He’s no Oli Bartlett (more from us here and here).
So what was bothering Wenger so much about his massively improved fitness setup, that he spent time personally picking out a fitness specialist he clearly doesn’t need?
Well, again, this is about diluting the need for a DoF. He knows if he hired a Les Reed type character, the assessment of the state of the club would encompass his mafioso setup. By signing Burgess, it looks like he’s impacting performance, but he’s in fact just shining the light on people who are already doing a good job.
The real need was a proper DoF. Someone who’d look at our shoddy scouting setup. Someone who’d take our coaching staff to task and make the necessary modernisation upgrades. Someone who’d look at the culture of failure and address it with the right sort of tools. Someone who’d look at performance holistically, not through the lens of fitness and injuries.
This is a non-hire.
The whole story is a bit mental, especially the talk about a global partnership.
“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”
We’re going to set up a global partnership with a team that doesn’t win things, with a club that work in a timezone that’s pretty much unworkable, at a distance that means you can’t meet in person without f*king up your week.
If Ivan G had just set up a partnership with the New England Patriots, I’d understand. They’re keeping a legendary quarterback fit in one of the most brutal sports in the world. Their video analysis is next level. The way they work on player psychology is world class. They’ve beaten the draft system by consistently winning against the odds. Their approach to strategy is unreal. They’re a true team of champions. You can fly there in 6 hours.
What the hell is a club like Arsenal expecting to learn from a tiny sports club on the other side of the world?
Even more flabbergasting, the club has messed up the narrative of this hire so badly, they can’t even articulate the Performance Directors role properly. If he’s coming in as the head of performance, he’d be sitting above Shad F.
This from the Telegraph suggests otherwise:
‘Shad Forsythe, the head of performance, is expected to continue and work alongside Burgess and, while talks are ongoing over the future of other staff, Tony Colbert may still stay on as a fitness coach.’
So he’ll be working alongside, not above Shad and Tony Colbert is STILL there.
To add fire to the humiliating face-saving PR stunt, this was on Fox earlier.
‘Burgess will commence his role with Arsenal in July, but the Power’s wish for compensation has been granted — and possibly exceeded.’
We’re overpaying for a fitness guy we don’t need, who is looks less qualified than what we have, and painting it as progress. We had to be strong-armed into paying asking price for Rob Holding, now we’re overcompensating for a fitness coach? You couldn’t make it up. Not just that, a quick search shows that he’s been under fire in Australia because his side has had EIGHT hamstring injuries March to April. Unreal.
So to recap on what you’ve just read. Here is what has happened:
Arsene Wenger has successfully completed a coup that looks like progress, but is, in fact, a devious dilution of the requirement for him to have a Director of Football looking after things.
The fans are getting screwed because nothing will change.
Genius from Wenger. Shameful that Ivan Gazidis has been manipulated by the manager again.
Shameful if you fall for it.