The theme of the moment at Arsenal is the lack of leadership and how every time there’s a tough decision, we seem to shirk it. The greatest example of this was the Arteta land grab after he won the FA Cup, the project went downhill when he was given too much responsibility that he hadn’t earned. He was given control to buy players like Willian, when he should have been slapped down. He made personnel decisions that led to him surrounding himself with a lot of average people that don’t challenge him. He fell out with players, and we held faith that any arguments were in the name of fixing the busted culture we had.
Well, a year on from that decision and things are looking pretty bad, but you know what, you can kind of see why the club might have thought promoting Arteta was a good idea. Watching Edu’s behaviour on social media this summer has been a real eye-opener. If you want to get on top of how tightly a club is run, watch for the details. Which other football exec around Europe is posting his holiday snaps on a public IG feed? Which other exec, after being accurately accused of signing duff players from his super-agent pal, would post pictures of said agent on a boat with him? What sort of person would also share a boat with someone that exited Arsenal under a dark cloud of scandal? Even this weekend, after the mess of a squad he’s put together lost in humiliating fashion, he’s back on his social feeds posting pictures of himself at a BBQ.
That is a lack of control at a leadership level. Once, you can forgive, but we’re at the point where this is a pattern. Edu must know how these things are perceived because his son mentioned it in an interview, but he’s still doing it. I have little expectation that Vinai would say anything, but where is Tim Lewis on this, the ‘adult’ in the room looking after things?
Football is about the details and these things that feel insignificant actually speak to a bigger problem… because at a club run effectively, that behaviour would be snuffed out immediately, especially for a staffer that is underperforming like he is.
To make matters worse, the club has apparently put the finishing touches on a new 5 year deal for Granit Xhaka. Now, I have little problem with the player, he’s decent, he’s a professional, and the performances he’s given us have been good. However, I can’t for the life of me understand what value we are protecting here. He’s at the backend of 28, he’s just had a massive performance at the Euros, and no one came in for his signature. So we’ve tied him down until he’s 34? He already struggles with the pace of the league, did we not have a little more leverage to add a year to his deal? Will we ever stop tying down older players to long-term deals?
CORRECTION: Deal runs to 2024 with the option of 1 more year. Point still remains, are we really protecting value of a player we can’t sell at 28 years old after a banger of a Euros?
Then we get to this goalkeeping issue. We have a child as our backup keeper right now. Our main interest this summer is a £30m keeper that has all the hallmarks of Richard Wright. Namely, he looks decent getting 50 shots powered at him every day, but what does that tell you about suitability in a system where you’ll be dealing with 3 decent shots a game? We don’t have much money as it is, we’ve not added a single creative player to the system, we’re down a striker, a right-back, and a CAM… are we really going to blow that much money on a keeper no one can suss? I can trust the signings of Sambi Lokonga and Ben White because most people smarter than me ran the numbers and said they were good. What the f*ck are our analysts looking at with Aaron Ramsdale to indicate that he is £30m worth of talent in a deflated market that has Onana going for £10m?
Again, this comes back to a leadership issue. How do transfers get done at Arsenal? Who knows. I can see a straight line with Lokonga, White, and Gabriel. But that same system, or process, gave us Cedric, Willian, and Pablo Mari. My guess is there is no system, because let’s be honest, if there’s no operational structure that makes sense, why would there be a transfer process that does? Edu and Arteta are clearly on bad terms, so they’re fighting it out out in the media. It’s embarrassing, but who couldn’t have predicted that at the time when Edu was made to sit on a deck chair and tell the world he liked being cauterised in public?
The more I write about this, the clearer it is to me that the only way we get out of this mess is a restart. This is the 3rd/4th reboot we’ve had at Arsenal. Each one starts with a good idea that we can’t execute properly. We tried the Sven Mislintat approach, but let Raul encroach on the deals. We tried the Raul approach, a man of no football expertise, and he f*cked it. Then we let Edu loose, and he splurged on his mates ‘very nice deals.’ Now what are we trying? What data points led to a Xhaka 5 year deal? Who presented that idea? How did so many people agree to that after he received zero significant bids at the peak of his powers, we should make it more impossible to move him on?
None of it makes sense.
You have to reboot Arsenal with a sale. Because what we have now, unfortunately, is what we are always going to have. Rich owners, that aren’t focused, empowering people of convenience to drive their second biggest asset forward. It’s embarrassing.
Ivan G leaves? Put two CEOs in charge. A wet decision but a convenient one.
Technical Director called Diamond Eyes complains about one of the CEOs not being right? Exit him from the business and trust the non-footballing guy to guide us with his ‘contacts’ approach.
Watch that fail, let said failure hire a Technical Director that has a super-agent repping him because that is not an odd move.
Bring in a family lawyer to check out the CEO Sven warned about.
More dominant CEO gets fired. How can we fix this lack of leadership? Promote the CEO that stood by and let all the nonsense happen. Why? Convenient.
Also… keep the Technical Director that was at the table for all those deals because he’s definitely got what it takes and there’s nothing odd about his signings.
Hire an inexperienced manager and get some immediate success… PROMOTE HIM. LET HIM CHOOSE HIS OWN STAFF. DON’T PUT GUARDRAILS AROUND HIM. LET HIM MAKE DECISIONS ON PLAYERS.
Read those points and weep. KSE doesn’t know how to fix Arsenal. They are throwing money into a pit over and over again and things just get worse.
We are at the point now where the best thing for Arsenal would be a sale. Give the club to Daniel Ek, let him burn the place to the ground, hire up specialists in every position, and rebuild the club the proper way.
It’s a pipedream though, this is our lot in life, and it seems the only way we’re going to get a solve is if we land on one by accident.
I promise, I’ll get back on the hype train tomorrow, but the reality is… even 5 wins in a row won’t mask the errors at our club. We are badly run, the structure is a mess, we are not built to succeed.