It seems the Arsenal PR machine is now in full swing, with some of the ‘behind the scenes’ noises surrounding the management team at the club, suggesting that there could be changes from the summer onwards.
Firstly, we had the news that the club was looking at a Sporting Director role, in which a new man would be involved in sports science, recruitment and salary negotiations. Then yesterday the news started filtering through that Boro Primorac is about to take a management role in Turkey. of course the papers have immediately led with these two pieces of information that Arsène may well be off in the summer, but the beauty of these two pieces of ‘leaked’ information is that both leave the whole Wenger situation well up in the air.
- Arsène is leaving as his management team disperse and Arsenal are starting to look for a new structure to be put in place
- Arsène is signing a new deal. In an attempt to demonstrate that he and the club recognise that change is needed, they are shuffling some of his management team out of the door in order to show that ‘fresh ideas’ can be delivered with Arsène still at the club.
Whatever the eventual reason is, I think it will tell us a lot about Arsène and how ingrained in the club he actually is. Moreso option 2 than option 1, because if he stays and shuffles his management team, I think it shows he just isn’t willing to rescind his own power. I think it shows that the belief that Arsène will always ‘do the right thing’ for the club will be another myth dispelled because even he can see right now that things aren’t right at the club. Even he will have heard many people talk of the culture of complacency, or having it easy, of the stagnation of the club. He’s not completely oblivious to those that question him. He knows. But a contract renewal after yet another Groundhog Day season shows that he knows, but cannot relinquish power.
But also, I don’t think Arsène can operate in a system where he doesn’t have all of the power, not when he’s been emperor for so long. My former boss – also an Arsenal season ticket holder and somebody I often meet beforehand at the games – once had a personal training ground tour of London Conley. He got to have lunch with the players and told of how fantastic the state of the art facilities are. But what he also told me was how obvious it was that Arsène was ingrained in every aspect of that complex. He said the tour guide spent the whole time saying “Arsène wanted the training pitches like this”, or “Arsène chose this tree formation to ensure maximum privacy”, or “the locker room has been designed like this because Arsène wanted it to…”. He admitted that Arsène seems to have micro-managed every part of the building of that facility. So with that in mind, do you really think that somebody who has that level of influence is going to bring in a new management team who will challenge him, or have a Sporting Director who will give him less power to decide on the transfers we make of the money we pay?
Of course that won’t happen. Those positions will be redundant from the moment the people are appointed in to them. Perhaps then, it is an indication that he’s off, and the club are just making moves to ensure that by the time a new man comes in there is more of a modern infrastructure in place for the new man to work with?
Personally I’d be surprised. The cynic in me is saying that the deal has already been done for Arsène to sign. That he and the club are waiting for the right string of results to announce that he can do it for another two years. That this time it will be different.
It won’t. The results will keep happening and the seasons will keep going the way they are going, because the players will see that it’s business as usual, which means more of the same stuff from a man who has been in post too long.
I’d also expect a few of the players to jump ship. But if a new man was brought in, I do wonder if a few would stick around to see what he could offer to their careers; I can’t see that happening if Arsène is taking pre-season training in July though. It most certainly means the exit of Alexis and by the sounds of it the Ox too. Possibly even Özil.
And then we’re back to being the club we all thought we’d gone past i.e. best players running down to within a year of their contract and then jumping ship. Groundhog Day all over again safe in the knowledge that we have another two years of this at least.
So, which side of the fence are you on, and what do you think these PR announcements mean?