It’s hardly been what you’d call the best of periods in recent weeks for the Arsenal, has it?
We’ve had a defensive injury headache causing us to put even more square pegs in round holes, a manager whose tinkering suddenly feels a little unnecessary at times, coupled with his seemingly obvious desire to ostracise key players in the team, an announcement that despite being one of the big players in the global football space we can’t afford any signings, then yesterday it all blew up as Sven Mislintat’s departure was reported by a host of different sources.
Arsenal’s refusal to comment was tantamount to an acknowledgement of his departure and it leaves us as fans really scratching our head as to the direction the club is going.
This was supposed to be the ‘new era’ remember. It was supposed to be based on a collegiate approach to managing the club that eradicated the need for a power base to sit in one mans hands. The off-field team we’re supposed to be working in harmony to get our great club back at the top table.
Yet as respected journalists like Rafa Honigstein said in a post yesterday on ESPN, clearly all has not been well behind the scenes, with Sven’s imminent departure down to what seems like a bit of a power play by Raul Sanllehi.
If what is being alleged is true, then my word, it makes for worrying times. If Sanllehi wants to take the ‘book of contacts’ route rather than why Sven is advocating – the data and statistical analysis – then we really could be up the creek without a paddle.
Why? Well, just look at the way we are run, which is the self-sustaining model based on not making massive name signings and if we do, they are in isolation, rather than the norm. We have an absent owner who doesn’t care about us and doesn’t want to put anything in to the club, only fatten his portfolio by keeping us as his cash cow that increases in share value every month. We don’t replenish our team with superstars and as a result we need to look towards clever deals that will get us back playing at the top of the league.
Sadly that looks so far away right now that it’s depressing. And it’s depressing because the ray of hope was a guy who could unearth gems for a relatively low cost base – like Torreira – bringing them on board, seeing their value increase and then if we can’t keep them, fine, we sell at a high price and reinvest. The Dortmund model. The model he helped to be pivotal in by bringing in so many good players to BVB.
People have questioned some of his ‘raid Dortmund’ approaches but it’s been clear to me that we’ve been forced to make a few of these types of signings for the ‘now’, as Sven’s plan starts to take fruition. Yet here we are barely a year into his time at the club and he’s out the door because he’s not being listened to and his methods are being overlooked.
Of course we all know it’s early days and perhaps Raul is going to steer us in to the next phase in our illustrious history with great aplomb. But it’s hard to look at what’s happening right now and think we’re doing anything other than treading water. At best.
It also worries me that we might end up with a different kind of power broker who defines everything at the club. It used to be Arsène Wenger, but is Raul angling for similar levels of control? Of course he won’t pick the team but if he is hardly a scout with a track record of unearthing the next big talent, is he? So is he stepping on Sven’s toes and that’s why he’s walking?
Of course, once again, it’s important to acknowledge that this is all hearsay and speculation. But given that we’re in to the first six months of this new regime and turmoil already seems to be enveloping itself around the club, it doesn’t exactly feel like everything is going well, does it?
And with Chelski to play at the weekend things could look even gloomier by Sunday.
Conversely, as football fans we spend our lives looking at the next game and result behind us so if we do manage to beat Chelski on Saturday evening, then at least there will be a bit more of an air of positivity around the team.
That’s what we need to look towards now, even if the future off the field hardly looks a bed of roses.
Catch you all tomorrow.