Arsenal’s PR nightmare tightly entwined with lack of vision at leadership level

by .

I posted a little later to see how the grim story of this week would pan out.

The movements that seemed most important were:

  1. The scouting realignment sits separately of the redundancies. Essentially, the scouts were terminated. Still not nice, but a fact of life at the elite level of the game. This is important because it means they can be replaced.
  2. The redundancies, which many found out about today, will be more on the non-playing side of the game.

This news, as expected, has generally gone down very badly with the fans, the players, and the coach. At a basic level, it looks like the leadership team doesn’t grasp what Arsenal has been or where they want it to be moving forward. We lack a vision. Decisions are short-term, they seem to be made in a vacuum, and there’s no one at the highest level who sees the bigger picture and how the pieces intertwine currently to tell an incoherent story about our values and wanted future state.

The club is a total contradiction.

THIS IS BUSINESS FAM

Yes, the pandemic is real. The lack of fans will be painful. Costs will need to be cut.

We all understand the business implications of the moment because we’re living in it. Most of us don’t need to be educated on what covid means for the bottom line.

However, there are some absolute basics that Arsenal seems to be getting wrong.

1. Be absolutely clear with your staff about what is happening.

Arsenal players were apparently shocked and horrified that the club were making aggressive redundancies at the club. Firstly, they’ll be upset because now it looks like their 12.5% pay cut (£29.5m per annum or £567k a week) was a wasted exercise. Now, you could say that things change, and I could agree, but the point is, the players thought their money was going towards keeping the normal staffers at the club.

Pay cuts should have been clearly explained. The ramifications of redundancies should have been known early. No one should be shocked further down the line when something like this happens. Get your bad news down in one sharp hit, trickle-down morale tremors put people on edge and reduce trust in leadership.

This isn’t a hindsight thing either, it’s business basics 101.

2. Don’t treat the people like fools

The all-in cost of losing 55 people was reportedly about £2.5m. That’s an average salary of about £45k a year. Not a lot of money for people living in or around London. 5 weeks collection of the 12.5% player pay cut. Also, a tiny amount in the grand scheme of football. That £2.5m is not helping Arsenal move from 8th to 2nd this season. It was a super grim way to frame redundancies.

‘I know we hurt a lot of people here, but hey, imagine how you’ll feel when you see Gabriel in central defence?’

If Arsenal were moving on people that now had nothing to do, they should have framed it that way. If they were getting leaner because the corporate team had bloated. Say so. The fact they wrapped the decision in the playing squad was because they knew a football club like Arsenal would look terrible making aggressive cuts to the workforce in a pandemic. The self-awareness of this makes it worse.

3. Live your values

If the club wants to position itself as cost-conscious, those values should be operationalised on every level. If you are concerned about £2.5m to the level where you’re happy to put good people out of work in a market with no jobs, then you should be looking to make savings elsewhere.

Dropping £130k a week 3 year deal for a 32-year-old does not look like a move a cost-conscious club would make. Paying a super-agent who was briefed on the clubs’ structural changes also doesn’t make sense. What value does Kia bring? He convinced Arsenal to sign an injured right-back for £5m with 6 months on his deal that no one at elite level wanted, he was behind a £24m deal for David Luiz on a one year deal, and he’s also pushing us to sign an out of favour Coutinho. What value is he bringing from a cost-conscious clubs perspective?

It’s like your company cutting salaries then throwing an away day in the Bahamas.

4. Communicate the plan

We’ve hacked out our scouting system as part of a reimagination by Edu. The Evening Standard hilariously indicated that the vision is that we move to a data-centric approach. I say hilarious because the values Edu and Raul have been living do not indicate that data has played a role at Arsenal very often. We binned Sven Mistlintat and Jason Rosenfeld for Kia, Arturo, Mendes, and Raul’s mate at Lille.

… snark aside. Why doesn’t Edu speak to the fans? If you don’t speak, the people will fill the gaps, that is sport I’m afraid. The gaps aren’t hard to fill, the Edu operation is backwards, unimaginative, and rife with conflicts. It is not data-driven unless data-driven means a USB stick with a spreadsheet of Kia’s players driven to Edu’s office. It is littered with unsavoury characters and weird backroom deals that make little sense if we’re a club looking to make future-facing decisions.

What’s the plan? Who are the hires? Who are the scouts? How are we modernising data? Why are we leaning on ways of the past? At which club does contacts scouting work at the highest level? What is the glorious future vision beyond throwing a hodgepodge of players and an elite young coach?

If the answers are good, surely it’d be a smart move to share them with the public? Liverpool people have been speaking on the record about what they do for years. Where is the Edu interview about what he’s been up to?

What I have found interesting is how many people defend what is going on at the club.

There’s a section of people in society that absolutely live for grift. They live in a fantasy world where being a bit wonky is some sort of attribute of greatness and that this turn south for Arsenal is what has been needed. Those people are fucking clueless. Do big clubs go to extremes? Yes, they do. The New England Patriots get up to some weird stuff, but you know what? They also do some incredible innovative smart things. They find value in places no others look. They use data. They have elite coaching. You can question decisions, not intentions. The sorts of things we’re doing have us in 8th.

Arsenal isn’t a beacon for anything interesting at the moment, the best thing we’ve done is hire a young manager at the second time of asking. We’re directionless at the top and lack leadership. Our decisions are made with the next week in mind, outside hiring a young manager, not a lot of what we do at the highest level has the future in sharp focus. We look like we’re being run by 1980s M&A consultants. The power has all been centralised in one place, dissent has been muzzled or moved on, the people being brought into the club are doing what works for their futures, then they’ll move onto the next shiny thing. The moves that are being made now look like the moves of people on the way out. It feels like we’re in zero fucks territory.

There needs to be a clearer articulation of what Arsenal is. The football lacked identity for years, I think we might be solving that on the pitch, but as great club of prestige, we’re lost. Who are we? What do we want to be? How are going to get there?

With great leadership, you can see it. You can feel it. It’s in the air. Every decision ladders back to the grand vision and as a result, it all makes sense. The fans, employees and stakeholders know where they stand because they’re all on the same journey. Arsenal needs some of that because the poor communication and the bad PR of this week stem from the lack of clarity around the direction. The fact that a 38-year-old rookie coach has given more clarity to what Arsenal is over the two leading the club tells you what a mess we’re in at the very top.

Your biggest weaknesses always shine through in the rough times and here we are. What are the club going to do about it?

344 Responses to “Arsenal’s PR nightmare tightly entwined with lack of vision at leadership level”

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  1. DivineSherlock

    Dream10

    Pepe is much better now than under Emery . Also the Chelsea final game , look at how he was given a free role . He was a menace , something Arteta knows and plans for accordingly.

  2. CG

    ES

    “””””CG When I read your posts it becomes crystal clear that you have very little knowledge either about business or for that matter football””””

    Much like the muppets we have in charge then.

  3. CG

    Divine

    “””CG you wanna talk about loan deals and dodgy signings why not enlighten us about how Kim Kallstrom or Park Chu Young were signed .””””

    Did Wenger ever have Arsenal sitting in 8th after 38 games- and after spending £200 000 000?

    Some transition this.

    (Raul has more power than whatever the great Wenger had)

  4. salparadisenyc

    Looks like the Poch taken over at Juve, what a dream for him from the shithole to Torino.

    Talk about UPGRADES.

  5. Marc

    sal

    That will be interesting – obviously a good coach but could never go that extra mile and win a trophy.

    Not something that will be tolerated at Juve.

    Will he be able to step up a level.

  6. DivineSherlock

    wow CG , So is Raul Sanlehi the manager now ? Is it he who is responsible for how we play and are now 8th after 38 games ? I dont wanna defend Raul but if you wanna blame him for Emery than look no further to Gazidis . The transition was fucked before Raul had any power so to speak . All he has done is facilitate transfer for players . But yeah lets judge him on league finish.

  7. salparadisenyc

    Pedro,

    Sarri was never a good hire to take over an Allegri build side for me. Very interested to see how Poch adapts to Serie A, if he keeps his high octane style or bends a bit adapting to the league.

    Bet Aaron Ramsay not disappointed in that hire.

    For LG we get to see just how good the Poch is after debating it pretty hard, he’ll have to take it deep in Europe or see similar fate to Captain Tabacco.

    Think it’s a very crafty hire myself, Sarri was never a good fit and they ruthlessly dispatched him after winning the league in season 1. Thats a club on a mission.

  8. salparadisenyc

    “That will be interesting – obviously a good coach but could never go that extra mile and win a trophy.”

    Hitting the Champions league final with Spurs is a trophy within itself, the powers that oversee the universe would never let them proceed any further as the moon would surely disappear, earth spinning beyond this solar system into oblivion.

  9. CG

    Divine

    “”””wow CG , So is Raul Sanlehi the manager now ? Is it he who is responsible for how we play and are now 8th after 38 games ?”””””

    Raul chooses:

    the Head Coaches,
    Technical Directors,
    what players to sign or what players get extensions ,
    what contracts to offer out and what players to be sold.

    And has never given ONE press conference ( too fat,small and GUTLESS my reckoning) to explain any of it.

    Contemptible to the supporters.

    The Fat Spiv hides behind press releases and a few lackeys in the MSM ( and Sycophants like ES)

    A charlatan of the highest order.
    An absolute disgrace he is still involved at the club.

    He arrived when we were 5th
    2 seasons later- we are 8th.
    Despite a 1/4 of billion spent on a concoction of players.

  10. Radio Raheem

    Sal

    It’s difficult to say. Sarri’s style at Napoli isn’t dissimilar to Poch’s Spuds. Yet Ramsey didn’t get much of a look-in under Sarri. Poch is a good coach but I’m not sure he is the manager need at the moment. Zidane, Simeone etc. are better fits in my opinion.

  11. Graham62

    CG/Pierre

    This wasn’t just about transition, it has mainly centred around a complete restructuring of a dysfunctional infrastructure that had been allowed to manifest for years under a regime that had become blind to the obvious.

    Gnabry and Adelaide were prime examples of what can go wrong when you believe in your own hype. I remember the first time I saw Gnabry play, I said to myself, there’s a special player. He showed more promise than Walcott and Ox and yet our then knowledgeable leader thought otherwise. Stupidity to the extreme.

    Between 2006-2018 we wasted far more than £200m and lost out on far more than £200m on loan deals/dodgy signings / contracts and rank poor decisions. The neglect and gross mismanagement has led to what you now see.

    So yes, I will continue to blame the Wenger/Gazidis regime for our present predicaments, even though you and a few others don’t.

    I could bulletin point hundreds of instances over the years that would make your £200m look like chicken feed.

    We were ground into the dust long before Emery and Arteta came on the scene and significantly, well in advance of your friend, Mr Raúl, entering the fray.

    Suck it up!

  12. salparadisenyc

    Radio

    Could be right, although Poch’s more organised defensively for me than Sarriball, with sturdy MF that presses relentlessly which will be interesting to see with a few names in that side hence adaptions may be needed.

    For me the job was always Zidanes, if not this go around the next, will surely be his next port of call.

  13. Nelson

    I can’t wait to see the back of Poch. If he took over Manure or Chelsea, our chance to get back to top4 would be even more difficult.

  14. Marc

    Graham

    What CG is just too ignorant to know is that Wenger’s peak years were when he had a de facto DOF in David Dein who would keep him away from transfer dealings etc and would also reign him in / push him when required.

    Guy lives in a fantasy world that’s two decades old years old.

  15. Captain Tierney

    Coutinho not as good as Aouar or Odegaard !!!
    Wow. Thats a new one.
    We really are living in strange times.

  16. DivineSherlock

    CG

    A mess of gigantic proportions cant be cleared out in a year or two. Everyone working at Arsenal right now are working at putting in a structure at place . If only Wenger had the hindsight to modernise the structure of the club but no he was busy hoarding the power . Its only his legendary dithering process that has seen us here . The results are not matching up yet but it will soon . Hope you get over your Wenger love.

  17. Captain Tierney

    A fun fact

    Since his debut on December 6th 2005, Karim Benzema has averaged a goal/assist every 93 minutes in the Champions League.

    Basically a G/A per game over the space of 15 years in Europe’s most prestigious competition. Ridiculous consistency.

  18. salparadisenyc

    Un

    Not really sure how one can label a manager who in 5 years has won 3 champions league titles, 2 league titles the latter after picking up a sinking side into the season and turning them around by completely altering their style.

    Identified the weakness and compacted them into a team that gave a way very little space this season for others to occupy resulting in the best defensive record in La Liga, ahead of Cholo. Polar opposite style to his previous title winning effort, halving the number of goals let in during his last two seasons in charge.

    And he has the good sense to keep Bale on the bench cause he doesn’t have the balls to shave his balding head. Dudes a baller.

  19. CG

    Divine

    “””””Everyone working at Arsenal right now are working at putting in a structure at place . “””””

    And its a lovely little structure too.

    Raul his patsy Edu and his conduit to get all of Kia’s garbage into the club at huge expense.

    If you are happy to be duped, conned and want to believe this turns out all right– good for you.

  20. Big Dave

    Any update on Gabriel transfer? There’s a lot of yap up north about Utd being in pole position to snatch him. The usual suspects are source – Castle.

  21. Big Dave

    Partey is needed to control midfield. We need more than Ceballos and Xhaka. We need power and mobility.

    I’m not at all convinced by 2020 Coutinho, but concede that we do need a lot more creativity, but the priority is the spine if the team which definitely includes Magalhaes Gabriel

    We face a massive rebuild and the early signs are positive IF we succeed in capturing our targets.

  22. Marc

    Un

    If we can’t get some control of midfield then it doesn’t matter how good our forward line is.

    Top 4 for next season is a non negotiable and it won’t happen if we don’t improve our midfield options.

    We’ve got plenty of firepower and we’re being linked with more – after that it’s got to be CM.

  23. Chris

    I find Zidane similar to Ancelotti in some ways. Carlo is a master at massaging big egos and getting them to play together (evidence, Milan/Chelsea/Real la decima) so it will be interesting to see how he does long term at a club like Everton who have no real big names.

    Zidane obviously had the same effect when took the job at Real and I think he would do a great job at Juventus. In some ways it is destiny he goes there at some point, it would be poetic if he broke their CL drought.

  24. Chris

    If we are bringing in the rumoured players on ‘free’ deals and keeping any budget for a game changing central midfielder than I would be happy with that.

    We have played well defeating Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea with a low block and counter attacks but we need a new dynamo on midfield in order to be more expansive in our play next season. This will help to overcome the teams who park the bus against us.

  25. Big Dave

    Afraid Partey, Soumare, Sangare or Doucouré.
    Partey is the best with ball control and exerting forward momentum. Soumare is young snd likely to have better higher ceiling than Sangare or Doucouré.

    I’m sure there are other likely candidates.

    Whatever, we need to take the ball, to have the ball before we use the ball. Without such midfield players we won’t be at the races.

  26. Captain Tierney

    Un

    Thats your opinion and I respect that but stop labelling Coutinho as someone who’s past it.
    He is 28 and for all we know may not have even hit his peak yet.

    Coutinho has more gravitas than Odegaard and Aouar combined. Not saying I’m against signing these 2. They are absolutely quality but have a long way to go before they even get close to Coutinho levels. And thats an if not a when.

    Coutinho + one of these young ones would be great but lets not forget we just trimmed the backroom staff pleading poverty. And we’ve also got ESR coming back. He needs to be given an opportunity to prevent another Malen/Gnabry/Bennacer/Jeff.
    Of these 4 probably only Gnabry showed more promise than what Esr has shown. Their combined value is 160mil now.

  27. Captain Tierney

    ‘Our issue is not winning the ball. It’s keeping it or using it effectively against lesser teams who defend well and deeply’

    100% true. To get top 4 you need to consistently get results home and away against the bottom 12 or 14.

    Partey would be a great addition anyway tho. Who knows , he could help free Ozil. I know I’m biased. Just dont hate 😉

  28. SpanishDave

    Ceballos and Coutinho are they similar players can they both play at the same time?
    If Xhaka becomes the CM with them will it work?

  29. Pierre

    ESR has a similar type game as Debruyne, though of course he is nowhere near his level.

    ESR has many characteristics in his game similar to Debruyne.
    He will look to beat his man and break into the channels and plays with his head up.

    Unless he is given a run in the team it will be difficult to assess whether he can reach the top level.

    ESR at Huddersfield has built up his confidence, he is rated highly by their fans and manager.

    I’m hoping that when he gets the chance next season he isn’t timid on the ball and is not afraid to take risks.

    All the best creative players take risks with ball , Trent Arnold and Debruyne have the most assists but they are also top of the list for giving away possession.

    Sanchez and Pepe are similar in that they will give you goals and assists but will also frustrate.

    Debruyne and trent Arnold never receive criticism by their fans, manager or media for being wasteful, and rightly so , as their positives far outweigh their negatives.

  30. Captain Tierney

    Un

    ‘Show me where I did’

    Here
    ‘I never said they were better but I think both bring an energy that Coutinho of 2020 would not.’

    Its as if Coutinho has had a big drop off. He had 1 bad year at Barca which really wasnt that bad.

    As for energy levels , I wont be worrying about that for a player who was starting week in week out for Klopp.

    Coutinho is no makeweight.If he comes here or goes to Chelsea or Spuds or any team in the world not named Madrid , Psg , Juve or Bayern he is going to be the centerpiece of the team. The player you make your team adjust to.

    And as for Esr I dont think he will become a deep lying playmaker a la Gundogan in the future. I believe he is very close to Kdb in his style of play and thats the type of player he should mould himself into.

  31. Graham62

    Marc/ Divine

    What I find amusing with CG and his ilk, is that they continue to blame others for the utter mess that was created by Wenger and his sidekick.

    Wenger is not wrong though when he says that “Arsenal lost its soul when it left Highbury”. However, the truth of the matter is Arsenal lost far more than its soul,
    they lost their identity.

    You decide to build a new house with faulty foundations, you’ll ultimately pay the price. That’s what happened when we moved to the Emirates. Rather than adapt to change and work on improving our infrastructure, we sat back and assumed that everything we did was right or, should I say, the Arsenal way, when in fact we were way off track.

    What is happening now( since Wenger and Ivan left) is the consequence of a decade or more of mismanagement/negligence and a stubborn refusal to act.

    Those that are now pointing fingers at others, such as CG, are doing so out of guilt and embarrassment for their own shortcomings in sitting back and accepting regression.

    We were being “duped and conned” for years.

    It’s all very simple.