much of what’s about this morning stems from Ivan Gazidis and his meeting with some of the AST membership last night. He came along, answered the questions, said all the right things and none of it was in any way earth-shattering or unexpected.
He said that the manager had the 100% support of the board, which I think we already knew. What was interesting was when pressed on what might precipitate a change of manager and to whom Arsene was accountable, he said:
Arsene is ultimately accountable to the fans – they ultimately make judgment. If you are seeing the relationship between the fans and the manager break down over time that is unsustainable. But I don’t think we are anywhere near that.
I know fans are important, and some fans certainly like to feel important, but to me the manager should be accountable first and foremost to the board, to those who run the club. It just strikes me as odd that the board will gauge fan reaction to make a decision about the most important footballing position at the club.
It’s clear there are those who feel Arsene has taken the club as far as he can and that a change is overdue. There are others who believe he should be given more time. So where is the tipping point at which the board will decide one point of view is most widely held and therefore most relevant? Does it suggest that there’s a lack of footballing expertise in the current set-up?
I share with you a sense of profound disappointment. We had a season that promised a great deal and looked like it could turn into a very special one, but in the end a familiar story began to tell itself. I understand the feelings that we all felt
And Ivan told us what we wanted to hear:
It is very clear we had some shortcomings and in this close season we are going to see some turnover of players. Some new signings will be coming in and some of our existing squad will be going out. As Arsène has said, it will be a busy close season for the club.
All in all, pretty much what you’d expect from an event in such a public forum. I think it’s a good idea to have this meeting, fair play to Ivan for attending and fair play to the AST for organising, but much like Arsene never criticises his players in public – a topic that came up during the meeting – the same applies with the Chief Executive and the manager, or anyone else involved in the club. And it would be disappointing if it were any other way.
What I would hope is that meetings like this encourage him, and the board, to be a bit more assertive in terms of what consitutes success in footballing terms. Yes, Champions League qualification is all important and we know it’s not easy, but you do get the sense that Arsene needs to feel a bit more pressure from within. Changes that have been needed for some time haven’t happened because Arsene has so much power over the footballing side of the club.
Yet pressure, or even encouragement from Gazidis, or higher up, to maximise the resources available to him could be fruitful. The inevitable calls for the return of David Dein – as if he were some kind of miracle worker – suggest that people want to see the manager aided and abetted in football terms – but that responsibility now lies with Ivan Gazidis.
Anyone expecting that relationship to have the Wenger-Dein dynamic will be disappointed, as that belongs to the past and because of the way Dein left the club (with £75m in his pocket), it will remain there. We can’t look backwards for solutions, only forwards, and to my mind it’s wrong that Arsene should only feel pressure from the management of the club if they feel pressure from the fans in the first place. He should feel that as a matter of course, like any of us would in our jobs.
What I’m hopeful of is that the club moves away from the position of always saying the right things – and this is something we see from meetings such as last night’s to the ‘We must try harder’ stuff from players after a defeat – to actually doing the right things. For Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger this means being as active as they say they’re going to be in the transfer market.
He told us players would come and players would go and that the club would operate within its resources (as if we didn’t know that already!) but it has gone beyond a point where that is enough. I got fed up last season with players apologising after another limp performance. I no longer wanted to hear what they had to say about it, I wanted to see a response on the pitch. And the same applies to the manager and the board. I won’t say it’s easy to sit in front of 200 fans of varying shades of disgruntledness but when you’re as intelligent and perceptive as Ivan Gazidis is, it’s easy to tell them what they want to hear.
Let’s see how the next few weeks pan out and let’s hope that he’s true to his word about the amount of activity at the club this summer. If you want to watch the videos of the meeting you can do so here, part 1 – part 2.
In other news, most of which involves possible transfers, Sky Sports ‘understands’ we’re stepping things up in the chase for Christopher Samba while the Mirror suggests we could scrap it out with Sp*rs for his signature.
The Sun says Gervinho wants to ‘snub’ Sp*rs and join us instead while they also link us with a teenage Swedish defender called Alexander Milosevic. He’s a left back. Update: according to people who have actually seen him play he’s a centre-half.
The Mail reports we’ll make a £12m bid for the aforementioned Gervinho. And I guess time, and Ivan Gazidis, will tell.
Beyond that not much more to tell you – other than there’s a new item in the Arseblog Store. Skins for your iPhones, both for iPhone 3/original and iPhone 4. Numbers are a bit limited though so grab ’em early.
Remember to check out the news site for stories that break between now and tomorrow, at which point we’ll do all this again!
Have a good one.