Arsenal introduce Braintrust approach to ensure future success

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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.


Right, that’s me done. Listen to our ace podcast.

We talk:

  • 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



1,439 Responses to “Arsenal introduce Braintrust approach to ensure future success”

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  1. Carts

    As the comp goes on, it’ll be more of this disjointed cagey approach.

    The anomaly, Argentina v France, won’t be repeated again, right through to the finals.

    Looks like another penalty shootout on our hands

  2. Akilan

    Hill Wood,
    I’m rooting for Uruguay mate. Mainly for Torreira and that team is pretty likable bar Suarez.

    Even Suarez when you read his story, its understandable why he acts like that except biting of course. Godin, Cavani, Gimenez are all excellent characters.

    Outside that wouldn’t mind any team with an Arsenal player in it. I used to like England up until this tourney as they used to have a lot of Gunners. Now this team has spurs written all over it and I want them to lose.

  3. Coach 15

    This is soporific,it’s like watching Tony Pulis Stoke City with all these long ball throw ins.

  4. Sanmi

    It’s not a straight red if it’s a pen and u make attempt to get the ball.

    If it’s outside the box, then it’s a red regardless

  5. WengerEagle

    Poor KS, saves a late pen and two in the shootout and still isn’t enough.

    You’d have to give Croatia a great shout at a Final run at this stage.

    Crazy how Brazil, France, Belgium and Uruguay are all on the other side of the draw.

  6. Akilan

    Woooooow. Excellent from both goalies. Erikson missed, yay.

    Croatia – Russia. Another shoot out?

  7. Carts

    Always thought Subasic was an underrated and understated keeper.

    Great display from both Schmichel and Subasic. Croatia will need to find more fluency.

    Still my dark horse at this moment

  8. Victorious

    Crazy how Brazil, France, Belgium and Uruguay are all on the other side of the draw.”

    Agree.a bit lopsided in terms of quality..Croatia won’t get past quaters in that other side

  9. Akilan

    Brazil – Mexico.

    Is there something like Mexico always turn up against Brazil? Or is it Argentina. I swear I read somewhere that Mexico always give a fight when they face one of the two.

  10. WengerEagle

    Dark horse? Hardest team they can play before the Final is the winner of Colombia-England.

    I’m getting the wallet out for a spot in the Final for Croatia.

  11. Akilan

    Also kinda remember Ochoa pulling off a lot of saves in the last WC. 0-0 or 0-1 to Brazil I’m not sure.

  12. Redtruth

    “Still my dark horse at this moment”

    Croatia are hardly a dark horse, i think we all know what they bring to the table.

    Russia are dark horses

  13. Akilan

    That Krohn Dehli Danish guy has been around since I started following football. He scored a goal in Euro 2008 or 2012 I think.

    His name stuck because it is similar to our capital New Delhi.

    Ancient guy.

  14. Ivan

    It was a hard game. Problem was they feared of loosing again firat game from the group stage. Problem solved, Russia game should be much better.

  15. Dissenter

    “These Adrift ads are insufferable”

    Get an adblocker, most browsers offer it free of charge.

  16. Elmo


    How is the draw opening up being reported in Croatia? Is there a growing sense that the road is open to the final, or does the Croatian media say ‘one game at a time?’

    It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of teams on this side of the draw, who normally would be blocked by Brazil, Germany, Italy etc.

  17. Danish Gooner


  18. Carts

    oh snap, I didn’t realise Croatia’s journey to the final have panned out like that.

    I guess Russia is the dark horse after all.

  19. TonyD

    Was so bored with the Russia/Spain game I went to bed at half time to read the Steve Tyler biography, so missed the penalty shout for Spain in extra time.

    Really not bothered if it was a legitimate shout for Spain, as I was really happy to see Spain be knocked out, mostly to see Ramos pictures of him crying this morning.

    Ramos got his karma for being such a thug, cheat and unsporting arsehole.

    I always said that England could make the semis at best. This is looking possible now if they can get past Columbia.

    Graham, your predictions?

  20. useroz

    England can reach a WC final by beating R16 Colombia, QF Switzerland / Sweden, then likely SF Croatia. That’s the flattest track you could realistically dream of.

    Spain did the same analysis! No wonder the Spain players looked day dreaming on the pitch….lol

  21. TitsMcGee

    England beat Colombia and that’ll be expectations exceeded .

    Tournament is France’s to lose now.

  22. mysticleaves

    Were weever interested? What happened to the Max Meyer links? Really like that player and he’s on a free. Damn

  23. TitsMcGee

    Hey everyone, there’s still Brazil and Belgium left. Won’t be easy for France.

    Not easy. But they’d be favored over Belgium and Brazil. Just don’t see the athletes on those squads that can keep up.

    (Yes I know the French are prone to choking; but they were my pre-tournament favorites and I’m sticking with it 😉 )

  24. Graham62



    Agree, Spain were too arrogant and assumed they would win.

    Croatia lucky. Maybe that was their one bad game.

  25. TonyD

    Thanks Graham. Didn’t see the Croatia game as on at 1am and I had things to do this morning so would see the score before watching the game if I’d have recored it.

    No doubt CC will be calling his bookies.

    My son is hyped up about the Brazil game this evening.

  26. HighburyLegend

    “Did Marouane Fellaini snub Arsenal to stay at Manchester United?”

    Thanks a lot, you beautiful haircut lol

  27. HighburyLegend

    The WC is full of surprises so far, so I would not be so surprised to see Mexico kick Brazil out this afternoon…

  28. Josip Skoblar

    The feeling is that Croatia didn’t play well yesterday and it was a bit of a lucky escape. But the mood remains upbeat: Croatia should beat Russia (mind you the Spaniards were saying that before the game). To be in the semis would equal Croatia’s best performance so far in a WC (1998 against France). When you are in a semi of a major tournament, everything is possible. So the philosophy is a bit “one game at a time”. It’s very hard to predict who will win the WC now. Fascinating!

  29. TitsMcGee

    To be in the semis would equal Croatia’s best performance so far in a WC (1998 against France). ”

    They were hard done by in that game if memory serves.

  30. TitsMcGee

    France on their day will be hard to beat but they’ll definitely are going to have to earn it vs a tough Uruguay and most probably Brazil/Belgium.

  31. Dream10

    Mexico are missing their best CB due to suspension. According to a journalist who covers their league and the nat’l side, none of them can sit back and absorb pressure. Brazil have the tools to be superb on the counter. I believe they have only conceded 6 goals in their last 24 matches. Would be surprised if it’s anything other than Brazil winning by at least a two goal margin.

  32. Dream10


    Croatia were unlucky that day. Lillian Thuram channeled his inner Pele and scored two goals. The only ones of his int’l career.

  33. Ishola70

    “Uruguay probably without Cavani… lucky guys.”

    If that’s the case then that is bad news for the whole tournament to lose a player of his calibre and not just fortunate for the French.

    Had Uruguay to beat France but that was thinking that their key players would be involved and you can’t get more key than Cavani at this time.

    Real shame.

    Let’s hope he makes a late recovery and is able to start.

  34. Marko

    Ozil’s world has been turned upside down says Mesut Özil in a picture smiling with his girlfriend while on holiday in Greece.

  35. WengerEagle

    Can’t see past Belgium and Brazil wins today.

    Would like to see Douglas Costa start over Willian who for me has had a poor tournament. Costa has been more impactful in his few minutes from the bench.

    Real blow to lose Marcelo, guy is crucial to their build up play and is the only other guy on Neymar and Coutinho’s wavelength in this respect with the one touch.

    Think they’ll overwhelm the Mexicans and am expecting Neymar to produce something special today. 3-1 my prediction.

    As for Belgium, just think they’re clicking at the right time, they’ll have far too much for Japan’s leaky defence with Hazard-KDB-Mertens and Lukaku. 4-1 Belgium.

    Goals today hopefully!

  36. Barking Arsene

    I’ve got Belgium to win today (should do though seeing as I’m going with them to win the whole thing) and Mexico.

    Not sure why but I fancy the Mexicans to raise their game a level against Neymars mob. Although Brazil have been good in spells I still feel like they can be gotten at – you just have to take your chances when they come.

    Just hope we have two better games today!

  37. Barking Arsene

    “All we need now is for Colombia to beat Ingurland tomorrow!”

    Don’t worry, the way the draw has opened up for England that is almost a certainty now.

  38. TitsMcGee

    Croatia were unlucky that day. Lillian Thuram channeled his inner Pele and scored two goals. The only ones of his int’l career.”

    Wasn’t there a dodgy penalty awarded to France in that one? Maybe I am thinking of the Italy game.

  39. WengerEagle

    Haha BA in all seriousness I see it as a 50-50 if James plays, favour England if he’s not.

    James is absolutely crucial to how Colombia’s attack functions, he barely played against Japan and Senegal and the difference was pretty drastic.

    He’s their creative fulcrum and primary goal threat as well.

    Quite like Mina and Sanchez at CB though, think they have it in them to frustrate Kane.

  40. Cesc Appeal

    Looks as if Vazquez, Martins or Pavon are the options the club are looking at bringing in to play the winger role.

    Gives me hope that a winger will arrive. Shocking the squad does not have a single wideman.

    My preference would be Vazquez.

  41. gonsterous

    want Brazil outta the cup.. want a weaker team to lift the cup. Uruguay lifting it would be awesome but so would, Columbia, or Croatia…

  42. Barking Arsene


    Agree it probably isn’t 50-50 in reality but there will be added pressure now that the path to the final is manageable.

    We shouldn’t be looking past Colombia yet but you know what our media are like.

    Right about James though – he does make a big difference although I get a sneaky feeling Quintero can still be a nuisance.

  43. Cesc Appeal


    The way the summer has been going and the amount of links and different people talking about it I’m pretty sure at least one or two of them are real.

    We need a winger as well, I think Emery will know that, Mislintat too. They have gone after everything we need so far in terms of a GK, CB and CDM, really its just the winger missing in terms of getting in the positions we badly need.

  44. Dream10

    Cesc Appeal

    Lucas Vazquez is a low maintenance home grown player who doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to Real Madrid’s superstars.
    He’s willing to put in a shift for them and gets the nod for difficult away matches in Europe. Their new coach, Lopategui, is a fromer Spain U21 boss, so the likes of Vazquez, Isco and Asensio will see more time.

    Bale, Kovacic, Benzema the ones likely to be sacrificed

  45. Marko

    Looks as if Vazquez, Martins or Pavon are the options the club are looking at bringing in to play the winger role.

    Prefer Pavon I think he’s got potential to blow up. Lucas Vasquez is good but it’s a worry that at 26 the amount of goals he’s gotten. 8 goals is the most he’s scored in a season

  46. Pierre

    “Ozil’s world has been turned upside down says Mesut Özil in a picture smiling with his girlfriend while on holiday in Greece.”

    No… Really….. Özil smiling…. What next… Maybe going for a swim and having a glass of wine…..and doing that whilst on holiday with his girl friend….. How disrespectful… He should be in mourning…

  47. Marko

    Pierre don’t be triggered pal. I mean if I was supposedly distraught like Mesut I don’t know if I’d be posting up such happy looking pictures on Instagram whilst on holiday with my girlfriend. I’d probably take a few weeks off from social media. It just adds to this appearence that he doesn’t really care either way

  48. Ishola70

    Chance for Mexico.

    Whoever is tasked with marking and keeping tabs on Neymar they were in lightning quick on him in the first duel.

  49. gonsterous


    you don’t have to come to ozils defence every time he’s mentioned. bug eyes can take care of himself…

  50. Pierre

    If I came to the defence of özil everytime he is slagged off on here then it would be a full time occupation.

    I just think it’s pretty sad and pathetic to make a point of özil smiling in a photo whilst on holiday with his girlfriend but I suppose that’s marko for you.. Wouldn’t expect any different.

  51. Cesc Appeal

    Seems we’re still interested in Meyer but we, along with several other top clubs, are being put off by his wage demands.