Ivan Gazidis held an impromptu gathering at Arsenal yesterday to talk fans through plans with his brand spanking new modern team. It feels like the man who has been burdened with ‘what does he fucking do’ and ‘we need more footballing people at the club’ is truly enjoying the limelight as an actual CEO for the first time in 10 years.
I think the key message he’s trying to deliver is that Arsenal is run in a far more democratic way these days. Part of the messaging is we have something new, part of it his way of very publicly stating the old regime wasn’t him.
“We really have a collective effort now, in terms of how we identify players and then how we take forward our interest, and of course Unai is a huge part of that,”
“This is now a different way of doing things, one with a very, very accomplished team of professionals who we have spent time bedding into the club.”
This sort of model might read alien to some folk, but it’s been the one we’ve been pushing for over the past ten years on here. Arsene Wenger’s strength at the beginning of his career was consistently getting decisions right and doubling down on them with major trophies. He was the go-to guy for everything, from player wages, down to the crockery change outs in the training ground canteen.
That method of management only works when you’re winning. Wenger built out a team of psychophants around him that wouldn’t challenge his methodologies, and sadly, the manager truly believed there was a place in the game for a team that simply believed in expressing themselves in a socialist system of comfort would be enough.
Thankfully, we have a CEO who recognised there was a serious need for diverse, expert opinion at the highest level. We now have someone who specifically looks after contracts and finances, well, we have two in Raul and Huss. We have a chief scout who has a modern team of analysts crunching numbers and tracking squad needs. We have a manager who is happy to work in a system that decentralizes power and responsibility.
Some of Ivan’s comments read very much like he’d read Ed Catmull’s book Inc. If you haven’t jumped into it, it’s a fascinating read on how cartoon giant Pixar has maintained creative excellence over the years. One of the approaches is the Braintrust.
‘One of Pixar’s key mechanisms is the Braintrust, which we rely on to push us toward excellence and to root out mediocrity. It is our primary delivery system for straight talk. The Braintrust meets every few months or so to assess each movie we’re making. Its premise is simple: Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid. The Braintrust is not foolproof, but when we get it right, the results are phenomenal.’
It appears Ivan has his Braintrust, and his task force has been going at mediocrity quite hard. It’s all very exciting, and I can’t tell you how much joy I’ve taken in watching the club go full steam into the changeover. I thought we might take it a little slower. Not a chance. We’re doing it all in one year, and it feels like there’s very much a plan.
Year -1: Employ backroom people to see what the mess looks like, start fixing the squad in January
Year 1: Fire the manager, rip out the backroom team, build the squad with top 4 in mind. That means prioritise experience over youth.
Year 2: Start rotating out the older players with younger folk, spend more on shiny objects
Year 3: We’re ready to challenge for the title. Everything is in place.
I mean, that’s just my topline guess. Top 4 seems like the real goal this season. What I do find tantalising is the fact we have Europa League. Now, I know that Emery is going to want to win that, but I think if we find the right balance with our squad early this season, we could challenge for the league. What we lack in quality, we can make up in with fresh legs. Emery can spend the first half of the season with a team that’ll only play once a week. That’s been a huge advantage to Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester over the years.
Can City maintain their focus? Will Chelsea manage to sort their mess of a summer in time for August? Will United collapse under the meanness of Mourinho? Can Spurs go another season without major injury to their big players?
Lots to consider.
Mesut Ozil will at least be fresh for the start of the season, his limp German side hobbled out of the World Cup after taking a beating from South Korea. The VAR came to rescue again and awarded the Koreans a late goal, an absolute masterpiece in my opinion. Germany suffered with a manager who has been on the job too long. They needed fresh ideas and they needed to take their best players. I mean, pretty average summation there, but on a another point, remember all the folk calmouring for Joachim Low to be our manager?
Imagine how flaccid you’d feel right now if he were coming back early…
‘At least he has time to focus on Arsenal, probably did it on purpose’
… would have been the quip.
ENGLAND are up today. The best result would be a loss, but let’s be real, there’s no way you’re going to keep our young lions from ripping Belgium a new one.
BRING IT ON!
Right, that’s me done. Listen to our ace podcast.
- Granit Xhaka and Swiss thoughts
- Mesut Ozil and the Bling Bling gang
- Bernd Leno and the state of our exkeepers
- How Spurs make us feel about England