Arsene Wenger is not adapting well to the new era that’s being ushered in under the instruction of Ivan Gazidis. Our latest signing, Konstantinos Mavropanos, was brought in by Sven and Raul, and Wenger doesn’t like that credit for new players is heading elsewhere, nor does he like that he’s being challenged and he can’t do anything about it.
“It is important to find a new balance.”
“For them it is more difficult than me because they have to adapt to a new environment, a different structure.”
“Overall, at the moment it is a bit new and unusual. It is an important period but we are not used to working together.”
So much to take from these comments. Wenger is trying to strike a cordial tone, without losing track that he is the king, and it is the new people that need to adapt to his ways of working.
I’m sorry Arsene, that’s absolutely not how it’s going to work. No doubt there will be a few months of bedding in. Sven and Raul are coming into a broken setup, but like in any business, you have to first learn the culture, then you have to work out who represents talent, and who needs to be moved on.
“For Sven it is important to know all the scouts. We have a big scouting system, he has to meet everybody and explain how it works.
“That’s why it’s very time consuming at the moment.”
Every sentence dripping in disdain for this hire. Wenger thinks having a big scouting network is enough. He sees the introduction of a new man to ‘his’ team as time-consuming, which would indicate he’s not very happy about the news services he basically told the press he was instrumental in.
“We know the players. We knew every single player in Europe before Sven arrived.”
“Sometimes in a little club in Germany he might know somebody that we might ignore.”
The above comment is interesting because it’s probably partly true. But here’s the thing, there’s plenty of passionate Twitter accounts that can tell you the names of the best in Europe, I mean, let’s be real here, the guys in the Le Grove comments section are talking about big names before they enter the mainstream hype. Knowing players exist isn’t the talent we’re lacking, knowing who to pull the trigger on absolutely is.
Two seasons ago, it was pretty clear that we lacked a powerhouse centre midfielder who could control or drive a game. There were choices out there, in particular, the hot name was N’golo Kante. A Frenchman, a league winner, massively interested in joining Arsenal. What did we do? We opted for Granit Xhaka who was statistically one the best passers in Europe at the time, and Francis Coquelin, who statistically, had the best defensive numbers in the league for tackles and interceptions.
Marry a fancy passer, with a brutal tackler was the thought.
Well, it was a terrible decision. Anyone who had watched Coquelin knew his limitations. He could bulldoze, but he couldn’t pass and he was prone to terrible decisions. If anyone had taken time out to watch Granit Xhaka, they would have seen that he was playing in an unbelievably rigid tactical system, and not just that, he boasted none of the physical skills you absolutely need to survive the Premier League. You cannot be weak and slow at the base of midfield, and look, Wenger thought Xhaka was a b2b player.
We let the opportunity with Kante disappear, and the rest is history.
Sven Mislentat isn’t coming to Arsenal to identify players and leave it at that. He’s coming in to redesign the team, create an actual process for player identification and squad needs, and make smart decisions quickly with Raul Sahnelli to bring in the names. Will Wenger be involved in the decision making? Undoubtedly. However, he won’t have veto power like he has in the past. Everything is being professionalised and experts are being empowered to do their job for the CEO, not just the manager.
The scouting system under Steve Rowley stagnated horrendously. One day, I’ll share some of the names we’ve missed out on over the last 5 years and the reasons why and you’ll want to cry. Needless to say, I’d imagine the argument to Stan Kroenke was a simple one.
‘We’ve literally missed out on £300m worth of talent because of poor decision making’
… and the sell on Sven was probably quite easy.
‘Dortmund were revived under Sven, and he picked up Dembele for £15m, and sold him for £150m a year later’
While over at Arsenal, we’re dropping £131m on Xhaka, Mustafi, Debuchy, Chambers, Perez and Welbeck (thanks Gambon).
Wenger doesn’t have the magic touch, but worse, even when he’s given major talent he doesn’t know how to develop it. That’ll be the ultimate kicker when we’re talking about what happens after this summer.
But look, better players mean better results. Some of the basics that need to be restored to Arsenal are the simple premise that power and pace have to be key to any player you sign. We’ve wandered down this weird path where we sign player wholly unsuited to the league. That’ll all change. I’m very excited about that.
What I’m most excited about though is this: The only way I see Wenger leaving early is if his power is disrupted. There’s going to be a massive clash coming this summer, he might walk if he feels damaged by the shift in power.
A long shot, but fingers crossed regardless.
Right, see you in the comments.
P.S. We’re doing a new podcast tomorrow, would be great if you have any topics or questions you’d like covered.