Friday, March 1, 2024

Can Ivan Gazidis give Wenger his football freedom again?

Ivan Gazidis has been quietly impressive since he took over as CEO back in January. He’s been restructuring things behind the scenes and actively seeking recruitments in various important areas.

Despite what you read elsewhere he was not the main mover in the Arshavin transfer but then that information was always as reliable as the news that Pat Rice was retiring or Xabi Alonso was ‘at Arsenal’. Gazidis met with the AST the other night and seemed to say all the right things. On Arsenal finishing in 4th place, he said:

I am not happy where we ended up but I am pleased we are disappointed by it … we have higher expectations.

That’s good and covers the ambition, but keen to not dwell on the negatives, he said:

But this is not a situation where we should be over-reactive and feel that we are in crisis. We are not. We have a team with an average age of 23 or 24 that went to the Champions League Semi-Finals and is going to get better.

Something for those drinking from the glass that is half-empty and something for those whose glass is half-full.

On Arsene Wenger and the belief that he has nobody to challenge him or his decisions, he said:

The idea that Arsène Wenger is some stubborn guy who is not open to having his ideas challenged and there is nobody there who can say ‘listen we need someone with experience in the middle of the park or at the back’ just isn’t true. He is asking questions of himself all the time and talking to people all the time. He does not believe he has all the answers and I see that as one of his strengths.

And then he explains the manager’s sometimes hard to understand post-match quotations, such as his rather bizarre belief that the 4-1 defeat to Chelsea wasn’t actually a 4-1 defeat. We know already why he does this though, his public backing of his players at all times is as consistent as the sun rising each morning and setting each night.

Now, obviously the arrival of Gazidis has taken some of the workload off Arsene. When Edelman was fired left it meant there were key roles within the club that were unfilled. So far the new man appears to be doing a good job and you just wonder if less stress in other areas might allow Arsene to focus more on the football.

Not that he’s taken his eye of the ball but perhaps his involvement in the business side of things has unduly influenced the way he’s built the squad over the last couple of years. I’m not doubting it’s been sensible at a time when football has gone cash crazy with cash it can’t afford to spend but maybe he feels too much responsibility.

Maybe he’d be better off with someone like Gazidis saying “You have £X to spend, go spend it, don’t worry about how we’re getting the money or where the money is coming from. The accountants/business folk have said this is what you have, go spend”.

The proof the pudding will be the state of the squad on September 1st. Who will have come in? Who will have left? Are we stronger and stronger in the right areas? Gazidis knows that in trying times for people another season without at least challenging for the league is going to hurt the club financially. Ticket sales, merchandise, everything associated with match-going income will start to decline.

At the same time he has to be mindful that the club has debts to service so it’s a balancing act, not an easy one either, so the very best of luck to him. We should all be hopeful that he does a good job. So far the signs are promising.

Transfer speculation madness!!! Chelsea are in for Emmanuel Adebayor according to the Mirror. They want him to replace Didier Drogba. I know many Arsenal fans want Adebayor to leave but how would you feel if he went to Chelsea? Strikes me as a match made in heaven actually although the whole former player scoring against you thing bores me now so I think I’d prefer if we sold him abroad.

Last night’s win for Man United over Wigan means they only need a point to be crowned champions on Saturday. They’re not going to play for a draw though, that’s not the way they do things. Obviously we’ve got the recent painful CL semi defeat behind us and the squad need to show some pride and try and get a result.

If they need any other motivation it might come in the form of Hull City. Maybe the players don’t hold the same grudge against football’s most permatanned used car-salesman Phil Brown as we do, but imagine United going to Hull on the last day of the season and Hull needing any kind of result to stay up. That should be enough to make sure we don’t fold like a pack of tissue paper cards.

Anyhow, that’s about that. There’ll be more and an Arsecast tomorrow. Have a good one.

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