In the summer – early in the summer as well – Ivan talked about a ‘catalyst for change’ at the club and come 1st September the lack of transfer activity in core areas of the pitch – notably midfield – led many of us to feel as though we’d once again been fed spin by the Chief Executive.
After all here was a man in which we’ve heard many of his yarns spun over the years and perhaps naturally, many of us felt a little drained and quite frankly, bored of yet another line promised and little delivered.
Jens arrived to much fanfare but many thought this was the probably the best thing that we’d get in terms of change and besides, how much power could he have whilst Arsène still ruled on high, overseeing everything at the club?
We’ve all said that the backroom team probably needs a freshening up. That more fresh ideas need to be brought to the Arsenal table and so moving on people – if not Arsène himself – might at least encourage fresh thinking and an acknowledgement from within that something new had to be tried.
But I do think that the club are looking to make changes, albeit gradually, and I wonder if the appointment of a new Head of Recruitment in the shape of Sven Mislintat is the latest in a few we’ll see over the next season and a half.
Arsène has his deal until 2019. We all know that position isn’t changing. We also know that the cancer that is Stan Kroenke can’t be removed. But at least the club are looking at making appointments around the manager that ensures the next transition phase of the club’s history isn’t a complete overhaul overnight.
I’ve spoken to loads of Arsenal supporting mates who have talked about the need to not just change the manager, but the way the backroom staff operate and this decision is one to be welcomed I think, because it is an acknowledgement that Arsène’s Arsenal chapter is starting to draw to a close and when that happens a new man will have the infrastructure in place.
Perhaps this is also an acknowledgement from Arsenal that what happened at United was a very real danger at our club. They replaced Ferguson and Gill almost overnight, but his spectre hung over the club and I just wonder when David Moyes worked with the backroom staff, how many were still just operating in the same way that Fergie did?
Nobody wants the next Arsenal manager/coach to have the same legacy hanging over him and whilst there’s little they can do about following Arsène in the hot seat, at least the infrastructure can be in place so that the new man doesn’t feel like he’s walked in to a family party where nobody has no idea who he is and what he’s doing there.
So personally I’m pleased about the appointment. I know little about the guy other than he’s had some pretty decent finds in his stint at Dortmund, and for the immediate future you don’t know if he’ll be overruled on any recommendations by Arsène, but his pedigree appears to be there and that’s a good starter. Being the man that helped bring Kagawa, Lewandowski and Aubameyang to Dortmund isn’t exactly a poor return from a scouting perspective, eh?
What will be interesting is to see who comes next. I don’t think we’ll see loads of change because the inner coaching circle will want to be Arsène’s closest allies, but you’d expect a new coach to bring in their own people anyway, so I am less confident that we’ll suddenly start seeing the coaching staff all hang up their cones any time soon. But let’s just take this as what it is: a step in the right direction to ensure a smooth transition from one era to the next.
If you’re looking for some bonus derby day material and feel like you’ve exhausted your current content locations but haven’t looked at Adrian Clarke’s ‘The Breakdown’, I’d recommend a view. It’s always good fun after a game like Saturday’s.
And that’s pretty much me done for the day. I’m still in a positive mood from the Totts result and I reckon that could sustain me for another 24 hours, before we get another dose of The Arsenal in the shape of the Europa League against Koln on Thursday.