There it is… Darren Burgess has left the building after 18 months in charge (well, since he actually joined up in London).
This is dramatic, make no mistake about it. A head of performance can’t really be judged on his body of work after such a short space of time, especially when there’s been a monumental managerial shift.
So whatever has gone on behind the scenes, it can’t have been pretty.
Still, that gives Arsenal a fresh opportunity to hire in someone elite or source from within. There are lots of incredible fitness people in the world of sport at the moment. Many clubs keeping players fit in high octane environments. Maybe Huss could shout up his boys at Sky for some reccos? JUST A JOKE OK.
I wasn’t sure about the hire in the first place, it seemed an odd addition considering the progress we’d made with injuries and general fitness… and it was dictated by Wenger in his dying days.
‘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?
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.
In my opinion, one that is far from expert, Shad Forsythe had come into the club and obliterated our soft tissue injuries like Wellington Silva would take down pizzas. The exGermany man helped his then team navigate one of the hottest and most humid World Cups of all time in destructive fashion. That really was some achievement, European teams traditionally doing very badly in South America.
The fact Burgess was brought in on a similar job title had disaster written all over it. A typically weak move by Ivan Gazidis… bring people in and let them work it out for themselves, he repeated the feat when he had Sven and Raul in on equal footing.
Burgess also made some odd decisions, firing Colin Lewin looked like a powerplay and felt very unArsenal. Moving on good people that have been at the club through the good times and the bad can be very damaging to the culture, it can also belie managerial insecurity. Can’t imagine that went down well.
Then Ivan hired in Unai Emery, and let the Spaniard bring in his own S&C coach (weak move again)… pretty sure that wasn’t approved by Burgess, because why would he allow a manager to bring in that level of expertise for a subject he’s probably not a world leader in… especially if you already have an S&C person employed.
His first full season in charge didn’t look great… which can’t all be on him per my last paragraph, but clearly something was up, especially around Christmas/New Year when injuries racked up and we looked dead on the field.
I would imagine Shad F is having a serious rethink about that Milan move now… club would be mad not to consider him for the vacant position, but we’ll see. Living in Milan has to be pretty damn elite.
Anyway, the Burgess Arsenal chapter is shut… though I highly doubt that’s the story over. No one leaves Arsenal without a job to go to… Arsenal is just too fucking good to ditch after such a short space of time, so we’ll see what comes of it over the next few weeks.
… but, before we go, this is Darren’s farewell totes inspo quote.
GOD DAMN IT THAT FIRED ME UP… BIG BAD WORLD I’M COMING FOR YOU.