Well, there we are Arsenal fans. I’ve campaigned on Raul Sanllehi for about a year now, and finally, the club has acted and moved him on with a beautiful ‘mutual consent’ parting of ways. A staged exit works best for everyone in this situation.
It wasn’t just me, Arseblog, Gunnerblog, and Amy Lawrence all played a role in raising deep concerns about the way the club was run. I didn’t run my stories blindly, lots of information was fed my way about where to look. There was absolute horror at Arsenal about the way things were being run. Someone who had worked for Arsenal messaged me this last year after reading this post.
‘Last post = spot on. Sven warned everyone….’
That wasn’t the only leak. Lots of good people left the club and I have no doubt their exit interviews helped contribute to this most excellent culmination of a miserable chapter in Arsenal’s history.
So what went wrong for Raul?
He was a chancer. It’s as simple as that. He wormed his way into Ivan Gs ear as a fixer of deals. He wasn’t a leader, he didn’t have a vision, he had no clue how to run a professional football club. When you don’t know how to do something, what do you do? You look to other people to help you make decisions. In this case, Raul didn’t look internally, he looked to the deeply seedy world of super-agents.
I extensively covered some of the deals that looked wasteful yesterday, and there were lots of them. Nicolas Pepe played at a club with a murky structure, part run by one of his ex-colleagues, and we dropped an outrageous fee that didn’t line up with reality. Unai Emery told the press it was his agent that put him on the list to replace Arsene Wenger, Emery joined up with that agent just before he landed the job. The Luiz deal was disgusting. Agents were reportedly injected into the Leno deal. The Iwobi deal also had agents injected per The Athletic. Our Technical Director came from a favoured agent. We then used Edu’s agent to bring in Cedric Soares in January and we just inked Willian.
You don’t need to be a Clifford Chance partner to see potential glaring conflicts of interest that have come from our deals.
Nothing we did looked data-driven and lots of our deals looked very much in support of people Raul liked versus being in support of a better Arsenal.
I’ve pondered if he’d have survived if he’d delivered us Champions League or there wasn’t a pandemic. I don’t think so. I think the disgust at his modus operandi at Arsenal was becoming problematic for KSE. At the end of the day, he was wasting frugal billionaires money. I said months ago, you don’t make rich people look like mugs. I wrote at the time the hiring of Tim Lewis was ominous. He is one of the few trusted confidants the Kroenke’s have in London. From what I’m told, he asked all departments to give him information on their budgets and deals… then he landed on Raul’s department.
I honestly thought it would take longer, but average operators are often sloppy and I can’t imagine the paper trail of his decisions made for smart reading. If bloggers can see what is going on, can you imagine how easy it must have been for an elite lawyer who is an Arsenal fan to get to the bottom of the issues? Tim Lewis was appointed to Arsenal July 1st, by August 15th, Raul is out the door. That is incredibly efficient work that tells you Raul was not the sharpest tool in the box.
So where do we go from here?
Well, you should be fucking excited. 10 months ago we were looking over the wreckage of what Raul had done to Arsenal. We had Unai Emery bumbling on TV, we had a broken squad of uncoachables, we had a shit scouting setup, and there was no hope for our future.
Fast-forward to now and we are starting to looking like an actual football club. Our broken football process is dead. With Raul goes outsourced scouting, shit recommendations, and horrible management of our precious money.
We have one of the brightest young coaches in the world. He could be generational. He LOVES Arsenal and he’ll treat the club like it was his own.
The fans are united around the direction of the club. There’s no divide because there’s no divisive characters at the club now.
We’ve won an FA Cup. We have Europe next season. There will be a direction.
We are still skint, nothing will change that, but we now know that the same mistakes won’t be made moving forward.
Every decision will come from a good place, all in the name of a better Arsenal.
Vinai is now running Arsenal football club. He’s barely 40. I am extremely jealous of his achievements here. I’m told that he’s straight as they come and moving him up is a good thing. Split leadership was always a fucking joke, Netlfix share price dropped on news they were trying it. VV needs to hold everyone accountable to a high standard. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have a football background, you don’t need one to run an organization properly. Look at the mess Raul left and he was brought in because he got the game.
I’ve no idea what happens to Huss Fahmy. The guy inking contracts for all these agents and hangers-on must be worried right about now, but we’ll see.
The football side is all with Edu. I don’t think the concern with the Brazilian is that he’s up to no good, I think it’s that he might not be very good at Technical Direction. Some say that he’s been in Raul’s shadow. Whatever is going on, he’ll now have to be on his sharpest game, and he’ll have to prove that he knows what the fuck is going on. It’s a chance for him to shine and make some magic this summer.
Kia J must be feeling sheepish this morning. No doubt his embarrassing carry-on in the media added to the troubles for Raul. To have a super-agent brazenly share news on impending structural change at the club and then to slag off Sven was the inmates running the asylum type stuff. It was also a direct power challenge to the owners. Moving forward, Arsenal has to control super-agent influence. Any fees have to be signed off by a neutral party or a committee of sorts. We have to bring rigor to an ugly but necessary part of the business.
There are a number of people that are worried that this summer of recruitment will be run by Mikel Arteta and Edu. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Arsenal didn’t fire all their scouts and end up with nothing. There is plenty of talent still at the club that can help with that side of things. I’ve no doubt that Arteta will have more of a leadership role now, but he’s not literally scouting players on his own. I’d also not worry about the fixer issues. What did Raul’s ‘fixing’ bring to the table? More complication. He added layers where they weren’t needed, he paid over the odds time and time again, and he allowed the decision-making process to be swayed by outside influences. Why would we miss that? We need to do things by the book and we need to be perceived as straight-shooters.
What I am interested in is how the profile of player changes. Arsenal shouldn’t be signing players like Willian, we should be finding 22 years olds that can become the next Willian. I want to see us looking at the right names, the club should shift focus to where the game is going, not where it has failed. Barcelona vs Bayern was a choose your own adventure for the future of football. Do you invest heavily in young talent for the future and base your decisions on data harvested by experts mapped to a vision? Or do you ignore your scouting department and throw money at big names recommended by super-agents like Barcelona have? No one doubts the talent at Barca, but the lack of coherent planning has led to some of the most wasteful years in their history.
I’d rather have a squad that looks like that of Bayern and Leipzig, bustling with young talent, explosive power, athleticism, and outrageous technical skills. I would like to bring in clever players that can understand complex systems and execute them with precision. That is where the game is heading. Edu and Arteta need to formalise a plan, share it with the fans, then get cracking.
We’ve rid ourselves of a cancer today. This was a good day for Arsenal football club. We now look like we have a direction. All the ingredients are there. Hunger, elite talent, young players, brilliant brand name, a huge stadium, and a massive desire from all that have remained to return us not to the top 4… but to the very top of world football. Who wouldn’t support that?
This is an exciting time to be an Arsenal fan. We’ve finally moved forward. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that we can share the next 5 years together thinking about all the good that is happening. It’s been a long time since I felt this positive. I hope you feel the same way. This is going to be a fun, fun ride.
See you in the comments. x