Happy Friday y’all. What a prospect it appears it might be! First and foremost, I’m looking forward to hearing from our new first team manager!
Yep, as you’ve probably already read to, the club announced a change in job title for MIkel Arteta and he’s moving from first team Head Coach to first team manager, in the clearest indication of the value the club hold in him, as well as their intention to essentially put their collective eggs in his perfectly chiselled basket. Vinai Venkatesham delivered the words but the statement from him and the club on the official site only ratified what we all already know: Mikel Arteta is much more than the guy who takes training and picks the team on match days. In nine short months he has effectively had a promotion ratified by the club for the work he’s delivered – particularly in those big games – and we’re now looking at a guy with a mandate and publicly acknowledged role that gives him much more power than perhaps when he arrived at the club.
And that is warming the cockles of me ‘eart if i’m honest with you. Under Raul, Vinai, Sven at the start, even Gazidis, we had a structure which felt like the devolution of power was far too much. It was confusing, muddled and whilst it felt continental and less reliant on one man like when we had Arsene at the helm, it almost feels as if we went too far one way. Now it is very clear: Vinai runs all operations except the football side of things, Mikel and Edu work in tandem to head up the football side. So if it’s to do with finances, marketing, HR and contracts (certainly in terms of rubber stamping that we can afford them and they are in the budget), then it is Vinai’s bag. But the decision on who to sign and who to sell sits with our new duo of Edu and Mikel. Underneath them will sit the likes of Big Per who will obviously work with Mikel when it comes to the transition plan of some of our youth players into the first team.
It feels clearer, it feels more obvious in terms of identity, it just feels ‘right’ at this time of our history. I say kudos to the club for ratifying a decision which I don’t think many Arsenal fans will disagree with. Except that Lee Gunner weirdo, who wants to find fault in everything because it suits his narrative and also his desire to profiteer as an internet weirdo who wants to make money through his odd opinions.
But for me this is a great move and it also shows prospective and existing players just in what direction the club is going. And I think the FA Cup has, in some respect, had a massive impact on the story that Mikel can tell to get a player excited about ‘The Project’. Six months ago, maybe even three months ago, you might be a player looking at Arsenal thinking “hmm…new manager, problems in the league, is this a club that is going in the right direction?” if you didn’t watch much of what Mikel was changing about the mentality of the club. But that FA Cup is tangible evidence to a player that if you join us, then you have the opportunity to win a trophy. That is what players look back on at the end of their career and even though Arsenal can’t pay the sill oil-whore or country-backed levels of money, we can at least offer the chance to join a club which looks like they win cups and are certainly going in the right direction in terms of the clear style of play and plan for the players on the pitch. They all buy in to what he’s doing, they are all on board and they all want to play for the club. Feels very different to the latter stages of Emery’s time at the club.
Sadly though it appears as though one player might not be part of that future project is Emi Martinez, who is supposedly edging closer towards a £20million deal to go to Aston Villa. And I am sad. I am sad because it’s a guy who has grown up at The Arsenal, finally got his chance and when he did, certainly took it with very outstretched and open arms. And those arms have clearly decided that he can wait no longer. He wants to be Arsenal’s number one and clearly he’s been told that’s Bernd Leno’s position and after the end to the season he’s had I can understand Emi wanting to move on. I mean he’s done nothing wrong to lose the no.1 jersey and if Leno is just going to get it back for the first game of the season then he’s probably thinking that he’ll always be number two regardless of how well he plays. So he can’t hang around for Leno to make a De Gea style series of mistakes and drop in confidence before he becomes number one.
What I am frustrated over is the fee and once again I have to sound like a broken record by comparing £20million Martinez to £18.5million Ramsdale. I’ve heard the English premium, but I can’t believe a Premier League club would pay extra if they had a choice between the two. Martinez is a far superior goalie, has proven he can do it in big games, making big saves, has shown he’s made of stern stuff. Ramsdale has been good, but he’s not just £1.5million worse than Martinez in my opinion. Based on the two i’d be adding another £6.5million to Emi’s price tag given how well he has done for us. So I will be sad to see him go.
What I will say though is that it’s not like we have an Almunia who’s going to be the number one. Leno has proven his value this season and I’m sure he’ll do it again next season. Some might question what happens if he gets injured but the previous season before last he wasn’t injured and it is not as much of a high risk as it is for other positions on the field. So let’s just hope that Leno can stay fit and also kick out one or two of the high profile errors he made.
There’s talk of us going for David Raya from Brentford but the problem with that is that the only way in which the Martinez deal becomes acceptable is if we’re using the money to fund other positions on the pitch. Raya has three years on his deal and I would be willing to bet anything that Brentford won’t let him go on the cheap. They signed him for £3million last summer, he has three year’s on his deal, they’ve just sold Ollie Watkins for £28million and there’s rumours that Benrahma might be on his way, which will also fetch a high fee. So if Brentford are lopoking for £10million for Raya it effectively means we’ve made a net profit of £10million on Martinez. That doesn’t even cover half the Gabriel outlay and so to me it feels a little like two steps forward and one step back.
I guess with the new structure having been confirmed we have to trust the team of Edu and Arteta, which I do, but I can’t help but think it might just be better holding on to Martinez for another season.
What do you think?