New CEO and Manager titles announced. Let’s talk about that (long read)

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Arsenal dropped a Vinai x Edu collab so dense in information, I’m about to give you a 2000 word analysis so you can digest it.  The newly empowered duo rolled up on a fancy lawn looking like the two new Godfathers in town. There was a lot to unpack.

The big news.

  • Vinai is now the CEO of Arsenal Football Club
  • Mikel Arteta is now the Manager of the first team
  • Edu and Mikel are on the same level in a shared football leadership role

Ok, so let’s go deep on this.

Overall Messaging:

Le Grove has called for this sort of communication for a while. We need to know how the club is setting up for success, we need to know what the new structure looks like, and we need to hear from our leaders. Vinai acknowledged Arsenal had been weak on this a few weeks ago. So what is the plan? Well, here it is.

‘We belong in the Champions League. Yes we’ve been in European football for the past 25 years, which is a great record. But the past three years and this one, we are in a competition we don’t want to be in.’

‘We want to get back in the mix competing for the Premier League – and doing it the way Arsenal have always done, playing the entertaining, engaging football our fans want to see.’

We don’t need to ask for the timescale, Mikel Arteta has told Willian he wants to win the Champions League in 3 seasons, it’s clear how fast we’re moving.

The CEO Title

Arsenal made a huge error when Ivan G left in handing over the keys of power to two people. It generally doesn’t work in business. Human nature is a one leader system, don’t fuck with nature. What tends to happen without clear leadership is a power vacuum opens and people land grab. If you work with two leaders, you can play them off against each other. If you are the two leaders, it creates paranoia, arguments, and stand-offs that are unproductive. I know because I work in an industry where you have to partner with people in leadership and I hate it. No one is truly accountable (or one person is totally accountable), which can also lead to excuse-making and dropped balls (‘I thought you were doing that!’).

Netflix recently turned to this leadership approach and its share price dropped. Raul was not of the standard needed when he was paired with Vinai and the lack of oversight on what he was up to led us down a very dark road. Vinai taking on the CEO job in its totality is what is needed. Pure accountability for direction, execution, and performance. He is the leader of the commercial side of the business as well as the football side. That is how it should be. Is he young? Yes. But he has 10 years under his belt at the club. He knows what has worked and what has not (bit like Arteta). He needs to be ambitious, bring everyone together, drive the staff forward, and keep the fans (and sponsors) excited. Today was a good first step.

The Manager

Mikel Arteta has been given a promotion in a pandemic, saucy. The Adidas kit launch video positioned him as a rockstar at the club. The job title bump gives him the power to really make changes.

“This is recognition of what he has been doing from the day he walked in the door and also the capabilities we believe Mikel has,”

“He has walked into probably the toughest nine-month period this football club has had in its 134-year history. He’s on a long term contract and we’re really comfortable with what he’s doing.”

This is massive. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, Arteta is a generational coach. He’s an obsessive freak of nature. Creative, driven, innovative, as well as being an elite communicator. This bump is recognition of those traits. It’s also a reflection of the love he’s getting from everyone at the club, especially the players. The bet Arsenal is making is that he’ll bring some of the Manchester City IP into our setup, but also bring people in that can help him shape that knowledge into something uniquely Arsenal. The best artists copy and build upon the greats work. There’s no greater manager in world football than Pep. He is the ultimate artist.

Additionally, I think this is a protective measure. The club is hedging that the chances are, Arteta will do pretty well and attract attention from other clubs looking to jump on the young manager bandwagon. The concern, I suspect, is that when Pep bins off Manchester City, they’ll come knocking for Arteta with a big deal. Remember, they were promising him the head coach role the first time we came knocking. This is horse before the cart, but at the top end of business, you have to plan for every eventuality.

The Technical Director

It was great to see Edu rolled out to talk about his plans and step out of the shadows. He spoke glowingly about the manager and the project.. then Vinai dropped a bombshell.

“So in terms of how that will work, going forward Mikel will join a really strong team with Edu and they’ll be working really, really closely together to manage all the other elements of our football operations that are so important, whether that is analysis, recruitment, high performance or medical, they’ll be looking after those areas together.

“And they’ll also together be responsible for our technical recommendations, whether that’s players that we’re going to buy, whether that’s players that we’re going to sell, whether that’s players that we’re going to loan.

“Of course, working closely with me and the board and working closely with the owners on the financial elements to make final decisions. But those are going to be their responsibilities and I think we’re going to have a really dynamic team to drive this club forward.”

Yes, you read correctly. After experiencing first hand what power-sharing looks like, Vinai has dropped the same model on his subordinates, placing the Technical Director and the Manager on the same level.

Let’s have this clear: Power sharing does not work. 

This is a demotion for Edu. There will always be a dominant partner in a ‘power share’ and that is going to be Mikel Arteta. ‘We really love each other’ is not a technical rationale for this move. I don’t want to hammer anyone, but I have heard whispers that there is a lot of convincing that needs to happen for Edu to work his way into the good graces of the Arsenal people.

My overarching concern here is that we’ve spent years trying to move away from a superstar manager structure, and we’ve just walked right back into one. If things go well, then the concern is moot… the problems come when things go badly, or, the superstar manager leaves. What are you left with?

That’s a story for another day. What I will say is this: Edu was the driving force behind hiring Arteta. His trip up to see the City coaching assistant in December blew the race wide open. If it wasn’t for his pressure, we’d be looking at Perreira or Nuno as the Arsenal coach at the moment. So, we have to give him credit for recognising elite talent and making an effort to bond with our ex-captain.

What does a Technical Director do?

We all asked wtf is an Edu? Well, let him explain.

“It is simple for me,”

“With my position here I want to put in place one clear process how we are going to sign, who gets the responsibilities, where we start to understand where we need the player, the position we need, the characteristics we need. That has to be very clear internally right now.

“The decision we made, to change a little bit our infrastructure, it is clear for me. I want to work with less people. I want to work with StatDNA a lot more, which we have internally here at the club and is very important.

“I don’t want individual people working in one area or for one country. I want a group working together. Less people with much more responsibility. That is my vision and for me in this process the most important thing is that everyone is very clear on the responsibilities which everyone has to make the right decision.”

I love this. The old scouting approach of 50 people sitting around clocking timesheets is over. The technology these analysts have now is unbelievable. We have had all the tools needed to be a top data club since 2013 when we purchased StatDNA, now, it seems like we’re finally going to activate the tools with elite people that can pull the insights and action them.

What people don’t realise is there has always been a lot of very talented people working at Arsenal, we just haven’t used them properly. Edu is speaking the language of elite business. The job of a director is to unleash talent. We want the best people in the world employed at Arsenal feeling absolutely empowered to do their best possible work. When you create a high-performance culture, every cog is vital, the competition between people should be real, but healthy, and all in the name of the best possible work outcome. I am excited that the talk now is about how well we’re executing against that vision, versus having to debate whether the ‘contacts’ approach was about to come roaring back into relevance.

The other comment I liked is the stake in the ground when it comes to agents.

“It is important to be clear,”

“What I would like from now is that everything related to football has to come through me. All the contacts, agents, internally, externally, people outside Arsenal, have to see me — and my name — as the first one to call or connect to. It is important because sometimes they feel unclear about it. To be clear and open that is how we are going to operate.”

Vinai had a crack at this, trying to pretend that the last 24 months didn’t happen when he stated the people writing about agent influence were wrong. No we weren’t, but I guess he wasn’t about to dig up the past. The important thing Edu now knows is that if you step out of line, you will not be working at the club. Part of this rebirth has to be about restoring the values we hold dear as fans. Edu, like Vinai, has made it clear, he is in charge when it comes to this part of the club, and everyone has to fall into line.

What about transfers?

Edu seemed to be fairly bullish about moves.

“Everybody is waiting, everybody wants to do swaps, everybody is talking about loans. What is important is that we have a clear plan on the players we want to keep, the players we want to loan and the players we want to sell. After that, we have to be patient, to understand how the markets are reacting, and then to make the right decision.” 

I think we’re going to make the signings we need to make. I suspect there will be a few days when everything goes crazy and we make all the signings we need in quick succession. It appears that we’re about to move on Martinez for £20m. It’d be sad, but if it adds to the coffers so we can sign Aouar, I’ll take having an average back-up keeper. I am very confident we’ll have the squad we need to compete for top 4 this season.

Concluding Thoughts

Arsenal is mostly doing the right things. The power share thing is a nonsense, but in a relationship based on bromance, it might just work out. For the moment, as long as it’s being led by smart people making smart decisions, for the right reasons, we’re in a great place.

We now have a proper club to support, the banter is hopefully in the past. We have a young and dynamic leadership team. We have one CEO. We have a manager. We have a Technical Director that wants to lean on data to drive the club. We have our best player signed. There is wind in the sails and momentum is working with us, not against.

This is a GOOD time to be an Arsenal fan. You should BE excited this time. I cannot WAIT to share this season with you.

Big love, now fire up the record player and inject some Le Grove into your ears and listen to our NEW podcast.

P.S. The new Newsletter lands today. Let me know what you think.

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504 Responses to “New CEO and Manager titles announced. Let’s talk about that (long read)”

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  1. Marc

    Dissenter

    “How come no one wants to pay cash for any of our players, besides Martinez?”

    Because they are for the most part either shit, massively overpaid and in many cases both.

  2. Marko

    Literally the only thing I’d consider by way of players at Barca is Coutinho and that’s it. Slimy fuckers don’t want to pay for Bellerin until they sell Semedo. Don’t hold your breath I say

  3. Words on a Blog

    I’m really hoping that tomorrow is not a sterile Aston Villa style match and that Arteta has got at least an interim plan to solve our creativity problem while we (Cough cough) wait for Aouar or Coutinho to come and save the day.

    Or maybe all Mikel has to say Before the match is: “lads, it’s Fulham.”

  4. Bojangles

    From what I’m reading Martinez has one foot out the door. It maybe acceptable (gritting teeth while writing that) if the proceeds of the sale go towards a new cm but I’m also reading that we have put in a bid for Eduard and considering a bid for El Shaarawy. Given our priorities, these two options make little sense and would hope they are just clickbait.

  5. Vickingz

    Apparently, arteta has failed to learn how to be decisive from pep Guardiola. Let’s keep all our players here and just enjoy the season.

  6. China1

    As it stands I’ve would assume auba stays left, Laca cf and Willian at 10 with Pepe on the right

    I’d much rather Willian left, auba 9 and a new player at 10 but until we sell laca and buy a CM this seems the most likely setup

    I know we struggle for creativity but that lot should have more than enough to comfortably beat Fulham. Not saying they will as it’s arsenal… but on paper this should be a banker imo

  7. China1

    Let’s try and be positive. Tbf Willian should notably improve us if he’s at 10. Auba will forever score even when stuck on the wing. And whilst I want Laca sold and I’m not his biggest fan, if he has a good season like he did in emery’s first year then we will be better than last season. Plus Pepe is going to improve this year. The offensive lineup might only be one player different from last season but with Willian plus improvements from Pepe and Laca we will be far stronger. Plus the defensive unit is a lot better than before so our attack is built on more secure foundations

    So our worst case scenario imo is we will be notably improved even if we don’t manage any more signings

  8. Guns of SF

    would love to see Willian and Aouar creating in the middle of the park… passes all over. Diagonal death passes. low block killing passes. chips, flicks, everything. shots from the middle outside the box…

    well one can dream,… but Willian hopefully will chip in 8-10 goals I hope… take the burden off Auba.

  9. Goobergooner

    Fucking yes. The season starts today.(yes I’m in the future in Melbourne 😂😂).

    Great post Pedders!

    Those interviews really did speak a lot compared to the last few seasons. They do seem to be more open, and willing to properly engage the fans, especially in this crucial time for society as a whole.

    Did Edu really get demoted? I feel like he is still the man there as tech director. But it will be great to have Arteta on the same pages as edu going forward about the squad.

    Vinai does seem like a good chap. I really hope with him now with everything to prove as the top dog, I hope he can bring more success commercially and give edu and Arteta the best chances to compete.

    I mean they wouldn’t come out saying the path they’re on is wrong haha. But I do get a good feeling with this. I am very very intrigued to see how this season plays out.

    I just kit out my office again with all my arsenal gear ready for kick off. Can not wait. I just hope we can destroy Fulham and get this season off to a cracking start

  10. Goobergooner

    I duno who mentioned it the other day,

    But the reason we don’t play through the middle is because of how we are so shit at combinations and covering ground in the centre. Ceballos (or whoever partners xhaka) always has to pull extra strings. The ploy by Arteta to play out the back and up the wings has been pretty positive despite our lack of ball playing defenders. But it will soon be found out and our central play just won’t cut it.

    A back 3 and playing a deeper line definitely gives xhaka and Luiz more time on the ball for their quality long balls, but I just can’t see how we become more progressive through the centre with xhaka still as our pinned on starter.

  11. Bojangles

    Not looking to make excuses but often promoted teams have the small advantage of the established teams knowing little about them. They often surprise in early games. I’m still confident of a win this afternoon (evening here) but it may not be straightforward.

  12. Guns of SF

    Xhaka is good for about 10 feet of pure sprint. Anything more, is goodnight and see you later.

    More like good luck defenders at that point

  13. Goobergooner

    I feel when martinelli is fit, he should be able to play at lw/st with a bit of fluidity with auba, which will create a bit of uncertainty in defenders. Even having Pepe being so fluid across the front 3 has looked good for us.

    Pepe is definitely a funny one. I thought he’d have killed it with our counter- attacking play at the end of the season. This season I can see big things from him if we get a workable midfield and as his chemistry with team mates increases.

    Arteta being the coach he is, would surely be working on his positioning, and combination play. Him and Bellerin didn’t combine too well, there were a lot of opportunities where just a simple one two could have beat a winger and FB to get in behind for a cross, but either the confidence or game plan didn’t allow it.

    Arteta definitely has his work cut out for him this season. But looking at how he dragged us out of a proper mess in his first half season, leaves a lot of anticipation about what he can do next.

    I for one am keen to go along for the ride

  14. Goobergooner

    “more like good luck defenders at that point” 😂😂😂

    SF

    I like that thought of Aouar and Willian (and ceb) combining and splitting opponents midfields in two.

  15. Guns of SF

    Pepe as pointed out on here needs to learn to stop bulldozing his way past defenders. This is not Ligue 1. It will not work. Pepe had success when cutting inside instead of hugging the baseline, which makes it much harder … if he can use this approach more this year without completely neglecting the sideline he will be great. The disallowed goal in FA final was amazing… if he can tuck in more on offense and go back on defending the line that would be good.

  16. Goobergooner

    Yeah SF,

    That left peg is a weapon.
    I’d like to see him starting on the left and getting in behind and a cross without a cutback, and then to become more fluid and switching to the right where he can cut back in and hopefully get some more screamers out of that left boot.
    I think he’d be an assist machine on the left and a goal scorer on the right (I mean he can do both from both positions but he’d excel in my opinion in that sort of set up).

    I also don’t understand why we are trying to rate guen with Partey and Aouar. Why can we not target these two (and hopefully attain them through sales) and also try to swap guen for another up and coming cm instead?

  17. Gonsterous

    Leno is a shit keeper seems to be a comment I have only seen on le grove. Everywhere else, leno is loved, hence why he was named best player after auba.
    Martinez has been great, and he should have known he was going to be starting the new season as no.1 as leno has Just returned from injury. So there was no need to give an ultimatum. I’m no.1 or I leave sort of thing.
    He would have started till he failed, but he wanted that soft cushion of, being able to fail but still holding the no.,1 spot. So he’s getting sold for that, because the club can’t promise to make him no.1 through thick and thin.

  18. Bojangles

    Leno’s popularity vote was taken prior to his injury. It’s possible fans would choose Martinez over him if vote was taken now.

  19. Mysticleaves

    Really stupid move by the club to promote Arteta after 7 months. We suffered through the last 10 years to land at the same spot again. Arteta is a good coach, leave it at that and get someone to clearly oversee him (Edu or someone with more experience). He (Arteta) could tank in the next season or 2. Who makes the recommendation to fire him? Arsenal never change. Values values values.

    Raul was really what this club needed. I hope I am wrong but it is getting clear now why he left. He was never fired. With all these recent changes happening and words coming out. Arsenal arent just ready to function like a serious club yet. If Raul does an interview, heads will roll.

  20. Mysticleaves

    We would be mad not to sell Martinez for 20m if actually there’s a bid. I will even run with 15m. Leno is world class. So what he punches the ball? Martinez is not nearly as good enough on 1v1s as Leno too.

    When Martinez makes a mistake or 2 and Leno comes back in, he’s not letting go too and we would have lost 15-20m in hard cash. No brainer really

  21. Useroz


    Martinez has been great, and he should have known he was going to be starting the new season as no.1 as leno has Just returned from injury. So there was no need to give an ultimatum. I’m no.1 or I leave sort of thing.
    He would have started till he failed, but …”

    Can’t be more true.

  22. Mysticleaves

    Leno is absolutely world class. Put him in the Bayern or Barcelona team and you wouldn’t notice a difference. Overall strength of a team helps individual players even more. Germany have 2 GKs better than him currently in Neuer and Ter Stegen. But if he were to fill in for both anytime, you won’t notice any difference.

    He might also not play much now for them as he’s at Arsenal (foreign club). Once there’s a decision to make regarding player selections, Germany always favors the ones based in Germany. That’s the reason Sane left for Bayern.

  23. Mysticleaves

    Not in anyway saying Martinez ain’t good enough to be No1 but clearly that’s a situation and discussion that’s always going to be had internally and in their heads. It can make it very hard for unity in the dressing room. Lehman and Kahn’s NT battle didn’t really help the NT remember and they didn’t even meet every week like in club football.

    You don’t just keep 2 No 1 GKs in the same team. Apart from the potential discord it can give rise to, it’s not economically sound especially as theirs a bid for one of them.

  24. Goobergooner

    Well we all know how short arsenal fans’ memories are. Wenger held on for so long because one win would paper over the cracks of dropping out of champs league or a massive loss to a rival.

    Its like the first 3/4 of the season Leno wasn’t the 2nd best player in our squad.
    Yeah he makes mistakes but every keeper does.
    Will Martinez ever get to 400 pro matches under his belt?
    15 games just isn’t a good enough sample size. I’m sure Leno has gone 15 games without a howler too.

    20 mil is tooooooo much to let go of if we want to get this midfield together. Especially when we already have a comparable quality player (if not better) on the bench.

  25. Leedsgunner

    I admire Martinez but I don’t understand why he’s so busy to leave. If I was him I would sign the new contract and see how the new season pans out. In the meantime respect the manager’s decision to start who he wants. After all, you didn’t see Leno complaining or agitating for a move when he started in the community shield…

    If the opening games don’t go well, it is almost certain that the no. 1 spot is his. Why throw out the pram now?

    If I was his advisor I would advise him to stop thinking about the right now and start thinking about the right club.

    It is clear Arsenal is on the up under Arteta? Why wouldn’t he want to be part of that ride
    ?

    The club stood by him for ten years. Where’s the loyalty from him?

    Ask Hleb, Song, Fabianski, Mannone, Tommy V… the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

    If it always appears so it isn’t grass it’s AstroTurf.

  26. Graham62

    “Leno is absolutely world class”

    I beg to differ.

    He is a good GK but is not WC.

    A WC keeper excels at everything.

    ————————————————

    Anyway, onto Fulham.

  27. Leedsgunner

    Leno is good. He’s going to look even better as our defence improves.

    I understand Martinez’s ambition but I can’t help but think he’s making a huge mistake by rushing off just because he’s got a taste of success in his mouth.

  28. andy1886

    Martinez isn’t as good at one on ones??? Really??? Didn’t you watch the games? Martinez save our asses several times in that position and has the size to intimidate opponents. Leno isn’t the same at all. And to answer your question about what’s wrong with punching the answer is that in the majority of cases it hands the ball straight back to the opposition in a dangerous area whereas if you catch the ball you actually gain possession. It’s not rocket science.

  29. Tee

    “Apparently, arteta has failed to learn how to be decisive from pep Guardiola. Let’s keep all our players here and just enjoy the season”

    Decisive you say? More like Pep had bottomless pit of cash to do anything but reverse is the case for Arteta.

    So, I don’t get the relevance of your opinion here.

  30. Graham62

    “World class” is branded about far too much by some on here.

    If you can’t command your area and are not comfortable at dealing with the physical aspects of your art, you ain’t world class imo.

  31. Graham62

    In December 2018, Leno cost us at Southampton. An absolute clanger at the end when Charlie Austin scored, in a 3-2 defeat. I was there.

    Missed out on CL that season.

    His distribution is also poor and cost us massively when our defence was struggling.

    Yeh, I know, everyone makes mistakes.

    That’s it for me, no more Martinez/ Leno debate.

  32. Goobergooner

    It’s definitely better the decision is left to the people in charge 😂😂
    Very tough decision but if we are getting 20+ mill I don’t know how we could be so stupid to turn it down.

  33. Kenyangunner

    Leno is just a good shot stopper. He dwells so much on the ball and can’t remember any offensive play resulting from his distribution.

  34. DigitalBob

    Feeling confident heading into this afternoons game. The manager will have them setup to perform for sure. Also vital to get 3 points to a newly promoted team considering our first few fixtures away from home are a bit sticky.

    I wish Martinez well. He won’t get an assurance he’s number one while we still have Leno and its great money if its £20 million +.

  35. Useroz

    The trouble we have in selling isn’t only down to player qualities. Apparently some don’t want to leave Afc but not out of loyalty! I think it’s too comfy hanging around, picking up a pay packet not readily available elsewhere.

    Laca wanted to stay?? Yeah right. @180k pw. Sure.

    Guendouzi rejected 3 offers apparently. Reportedly @60k pw. Why not?

    Elneny still around the squad and taking £50k+ pw. Beiktas saying they can’t afford him! £5m??

    Ozil respects his contract and will stay and fight (allegedly from his lawyer agent). taking £300k+ pw, every week but doing fuck all.

    Sok at least wanted to leave it seems… but at no fee!

    Bellerin. No reports saying he doesn’t want the move but Barca is still trying to screw Arsenal after 2 decades. Sure, let’s swap with Messi or pay us £30m.

    Chambers and Mustafi may get a free pass this TW being injured, not their fault I suppose.

    Holding. Club wants him on loan. We want cash. If Holding can’t get a PL club interested he doesn’t deserve to be here.

    Torreira is most saleable so it’s bad if we can’t move him for £20m+…not even recouping have cost

    All this time, we only ‘sold’ Mikhi! for a hefty £0 fee.

    Hopefully Edu is right that everyone is waiting.

    Btw. Sad that Martinez not travelling with the squad if true. If we decide to sell, get every fucking penny. Villa losing 4 nil and we’d squeeze another £10m. At a reported £25k pw Martinez is least of our worry cost wise.

  36. Graham62

    Useroz

    We all remember, nearly a decade back now, Sir Nicklas Bendtner was on £50k a week.

    It’s built into our over generous culture.

  37. Goobergooner

    Yeah Graham the world is going insane.
    Mother nature has had enough. This has definitely been the most hectic year I can remember for fires and of course covid.

    But yeah I hope everyone in the US is keeping safe despite all the shit going on there.

  38. Tee

    “In December 2018, Leno cost us at Southampton. An absolute clanger at the end when Charlie Austin scored, in a 3-2 defeat. I was there.Missed out on CL that season”

    Oh! We missed CL that season due to Leno’s clanger. You should also be sincere enough to mention the number of times he saved our asses from embarrassment.

    Was Aubameyang, our talisman not guilty too?

  39. Freddie Ljungberg

    “The most likely scenario is that Emi Martinez leaves Arsenal because he wants to play,’ the shot-stopper’s agent, Lucas Martinez Quarta, told TyC Sports.

    He dreams of being the starting goalkeeper for the national team and he is willing to leave his home [at Arsenal] for the worthy cause of being Argentina’s number one.”

    Martinez agent, maybe time to stop blaming the club now? He shouldn’t get any guarantees at this stage,if he was confident in his ability he would duke it out with Leno this coming season, no way he wasn’t going to get his chances to play if he stayed.

  40. Kane

    Great summary of the moves – I am very excited about where we are heading with Mikel. Can see us challenging again within a few transfer windows.

    It is great to have hope again