Back in Blighty and back to normality for me after Portugal and New York at the weekend and whilst I was hoping to talk about the Newcastle game, impact of Torreira, Xhaka, etc, etc, it’s Gazidis who seems to be dominating the topic of conversation after Arseblog News broke the story that he’s set to leave for Milan.
It’s fair to say that the guys over at Arseblog don’t tend to go for second-guessing, click-baity nonsense, so I think we can take it as a pretty sure sign that our Chief Executive is off to Italy for pastures new.
What I find fascinating about this is how it appears his imminent departure is being viewed by some as a sad day for the club. We ran a poll ahead of our show tonight on LoveSport – moved to Tuesday for this week – asking how people felt about it. At the time of me writing this it was 4% of people who felt ‘sad’, 28% ‘glad’ and the rest ‘indifferent.
I can’t believe there were as many as 4% who were ‘sad’ to be honest with you. I mean let’s look at the reality of his tenure at the club. He’s been here ten years. He’s probably taken the best part of £20million over that time. And what has been delivered?
Very little in my opinion. The way he’s handled the last six months or so has been good and the movements to get the infrastructure in post-Arsène were the right thing to do, but apart from the last year what has he delivered?
Good speeches? Promises of change? Talks of being like Bayern?
There are literally dozens of sound bites of Gazidis talking about how Arsenal are as a club and where they are going to get to and what we find is that he has presided – along with Arsène – over a period in our history which has been ok at times but given the potential he himself talked up, has not delivered.
He talked of a ‘catalyst for change’ but it took him over a year for anything to come to fruition. He was a man beholden to Arsène Wenger who, when the club needed a figurehead to stand up and talk about where we were going, was conspicuous in his absence. He has literally stood in Arsène’s shadows and just wheeled out the odd soundbite as and when an AGM came around.
Some might argue that the revenues of the club have skyrocketed in the last ten years. That they certainly have, but the sheer volume of cash swilling around the money vacuum of the Premier League meant it was hard – no, impossible – not to have a football club whose revenues wouldn’t vastly inflate during this period.
I’m not an accountant, I can’t be relied on to give you chapter and verse about his performance as a CEO in driving commercial revenues, but you don’t have to look far (Google ‘Swiss Ramble’ or look him up on Twitter for a start) to see that in line with other ‘big’ clubs Gazidis has – at best – achieved what he is expected to have achieved given the stature of the organisation that he has led.
And yet his bonus has kept on rolling in. He’s delivered what was expected because for so much of his time in charge Arsène had delivered what was expected and the bare minimum – Champions League football – so he’s been able to keep on riding the gravy train of wealth without much fuss as far as the Kroenke’s are concerned.
We have had a politician who has fed us spin for so many years that as soon as we have a moment where he has delivered there are people saying it is sad to see him go.
But this works for Ivan. He’s able to spin this with Milan so he can net himself a big payday and then move on to UEFA in probably four or five years. He’s already ‘in there’ at UEFa and that’s his end game, but adding another European team on to his CV is what he wants. I understand that, but nobody can convince me that he’s getting the Milan job because of the stellar work that he’s done at Arsenal over a prolonged period of time.
Ivan Gazidis has given us six good months of transition and now, without his fire blanket of a lightning rod manager in Arsène Wenger, he is moving on. And he’ll be doing it at a time early enough in the new era at Arsenal that he can say “hey, I’ve moved on, so if it hasn’t worked it’s not my fault”.
Ivan Gazidis is the Samir Nasri CEO. He’s given us six months of decent performance but before that, it was all a bit ‘meh’ to be honest. And now, just like Nasri after he had six half decent months, he’s buggering off to line his pockets elsewhere.
I think it’s fair enough to assume that I’m most definitely in the ‘glad’ camp that he’s going. He has hardly been an inspirational figurehead at the club and despite the issues I have with the Kroenke family, I’m sure that as a businessman Stan will be looking at somebody who will improve on a pretty low bar to be honest. It will most likely be Josh Kroenke. Maybe he’ll be somebody who can actually deliver on the change that Gazidis spent ten years telling us would come but ultimately hasn’t under his tenure.
Arsenal don’t need Gazidis. We will move forward, be stronger and hopefully if the appointment is the right one, be able to eat at the top table of football again. My hope is that in a year or so’s time we can all be glad that Milan have taken Samir Gazidis off our hands.