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Arsenal - Change Is In The Air

By Kevin Whitcher

Two mooted appointments are likely and will start the process of evolution in the boardroom

From separate sources, I have heard the news that the arrivals of Marc Overmars (from Ajax) and Raul Sanllehi (from Barcelona) are very likely to happen. Overmars would arrive next summer, although Sanllehi could be in place earlier.

Overmars & Sanllehi - Dream Team?

It’s unlikely that Overmars would be given a ‘director of football’ title, as much as anything to save Arsene Wenger’s pride, although if the board do decide that they will dispense with the manager a year before his contract is up, then that would not be such an issue. As an aside to that, Carlo Ancelotti has had two meetings with the club recently, and certainly cannot be discounted as a possible successor to Wenger, should he depart before 2019. I have written previously about Antonio Conte’s interest in the rebuilding job at Arsenal, and it appears that, behind the scenes, the club are preparing for change. Certainly, last season, a number of managerial candidates were sounded out in the event that Arsene Wenger did not renew.

Ultimately, Wenger decided he wanted to stay on – he was determined to have another shot at winning the Premier League and next season, the Champions League. So in the euphoria of the FA Cup Final victory over Chelsea, he persuaded Stan Kroenke, bypassing the board of directors, to give him another two years. Yet, accepted wisdom decrees he no longer has what it takes to lead a team to the title after 13 failed attempts since his last, and currently you’d get long odds on a Gunners’ title next May - for more details on betting with bet365 mobile app click here if you believe different from the bookies. The team’s odds have drifted since the start of the season with the difficulty they had picking up points on the road, with a current price of 50/1 on an Arsenal title available. For those to improve, they’d need a result on Sunday at the Etihad, where they are 7/2 for a draw and 11/2 for a win.

Wenger himself admitted at a stormy AGM last week that his future would be reviewed in the summer – perhaps an understanding that was reached in the meeting with Kroenke. Looking at the club finances, the missing income from the failure to qualify for the Champions League will, in all likelihood, be balanced out by the £28 million transfer surplus from last summer combined with the TV income from the Europa League. So, the bottom line is taken care of short term, but the club’s profile has taken a dent, which will not help with raising money from sponsorship deals, an area where the Gunners compare poorly with other major clubs.

This makes Wenger vulnerable. The board don’t want the negative PR that surrounds poor defeats, wantaway players and rebellious AGMs. Put simply, it damages the brand. Although the manager would probably choose to stay on forever, business-wise, it could be a risk to indulge him.

The other aspect of this is that the board are aware that they need to update both themselves and the structure of the club’s footballing operation. They will not publicly admit that they are not fit for purpose, but currently, they can get away with being largely figureheads because – 1) Arsene Wenger makes all the footballing decisions and 2) What Stan Kroenke says goes in terms of Arsene’s position. For the time being, Ivan Gazidis is working with two hands tied behind his back. Yet the experience of the unhappiness amongst shareholding supporters at the AGM won’t have been lost on the directors, and they will not want a repeat next season. It was the fans’ response to the perceived repeated failings on the pitch. And critically, Stan Kroenke was there to witness it, rather than being cossetted away in Colorado.

So, if this season goes the way of most others, and the club fail to challenge for the title once more, then change is highly likely. The number of staff Arsenal employ on the football side has unquestionably increased significantly, but it is the key appointments that are lacking. David Dein was replaced by a non-director with less authority in the form of Dick Law. That was a step backwards, but one that allowed the manager to increase his power. Ivan Gazidis effectively replaced Keith Edelman (albeit after Ken Friar had held the reins for just over a year). It was arguably an improvement, but the new arrival found himself restricted in what he was able to achieve, his plans over-ridden by the newly-empowered Wenger.

Both of Overmars and Sanllehi are board level appointments, and would placate those requesting more football experience in the directors’ box. Critically, the latter would not be adverse to dealing with the super-agent sharks that Wenger refuses to do business with, thus preventing Arsenal from the possibility of acquiring players such as Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Additionally, there is room for both at the club. Overmars would in all likelihood take an overseeing role regarding the club’s footballing strategy, with a view to addressing both the number of homegrown players that the club utilize (Ajax being a perfect model for this) and obvious weaknesses in the current first team squad (the discipline of the central midfield a blatant issue that has not been properly addressed for several campaigns). Sanllehi is a transfer fixer and can work behind the scenes outside of the transfer window in co-operation with Overmars and a revised scouting team to secure the best prospects – given Arsenal’s rebuilding job will not be one where they can match certain clubs in the market, as long as Kroenke remains in control.

The club has to join the 21st century in the way it operates. The current method, outlined by Sir Chips at a the 2014 AGM as “If Arsene has a plan, we back him, if he doesn't have a plan, we keep quiet”, isn’t cutting it anymore and the board were undoubtedly made aware of this by the normally respectful shareholders, who will not be bought off with an FA Cup. Arsene may not like the probable changes that will be in place by the start of next summer’s transfer window, but he may not even be around for that to matter a jot if the speculation proves to be correct.

2nd November 2017 09:02:05

(8.3/10)

Comments and Reaction

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bobbybigb  10:06am 2nd Nov 2017

Felt like puking up over the breakfast table this morning when I turned on BBC news and witnessed the scum giving Real a hiding.Continually incensed at the way our club have let things slide to the point of feeling envious of that Middx shower of ****e I pray that your report has truth and that change is on its way.......Wenger out - Post No. 110547


The Man From UNCLE  10:30am 2nd Nov 2017

Talking of betting, what are the odds of another 3-6 on Sunday? Gotta be worth a punt. - Post No. 110548


Seven Kings Gooner1  10:57am 2nd Nov 2017

Kev - I'll believe it, if and when it happens. The most disappointing aspect of last week's car crash AGM was that despite the wreakage caused by "Chips" and his motley crew the attendance for the Swansea game was high. I actually thought that fans after seeing and hearing the contempt that the board felt towards it's customers, many would vote with their feet and there would be plenty of empty red seats on display. I only watched "match of the day" to see if Arsenal fans had finally twigged what was going on, alas no, a near full house meant carry on as normal. So why would Kronke want to spend money - Arsenal now are the first "Hipster" football club, people go to the Emirates to be seen, to be noticed, like the new professionals who have invaded former "no go" areas of London. The wealthy have taken our property from us and they are now taking our "working class" game from us - you would think their are enough playgrounds in the world for the super rich to dwell in and enough poncey sports for them to attached their brand to but no football is the new rush for them. I actually think Wenger will do another contract before he goes, because he can help make all Stan's dreams come true. - Post No. 110549


Cyril  12:09pm 2nd Nov 2017

Listening to Danny Kelly the other night was again enlightening. He's got to be the best in the sports broadcasting business even though he is a (spud u like). Sorry... Anyway, he reliably informs us that Levy is brokering a 400 million plus deal to franchise with an NFL team. It won't be long before they have caiught up financially and become the superpower in north London. Meanwhile at the Emirates, its Groundhog Day.What a shameful bunch of carpetbaggers. Shameful! - Post No. 110550


Perryashburtongroves  12:53pm 2nd Nov 2017

It doesn't matter who comes in to do what. All the time that Wenger is there, nothing will change. Get him out and there's a chance things will improve. - Post No. 110551


Redshirtwhitesleeves  13:21pm 2nd Nov 2017

Kev i certainly hope you are correct and that we see some tangible, meaningful changes in the set up. The problem is these rumours and stories very rarely come true (especially the ones that sound positive and forward thinking!). In any case as long as wenger remains in situ then we are doomed to failure and will continual falling away. We will just have to accept being Londonds 3rd best team until he is no longer aroundakevgn - Post No. 110552


Yes its Ron  13:30pm 2nd Nov 2017

i think Arsenal have only ever changed incrementally at the top. Any change will only now be slight in my view. While SK owns what he does, he ll never alter things too much. Hes no need to do so. They turn up, they clap, they moan a bit. The Sophies and Justins who go there now to be seen (read SKGs post) are happy enough. Theres never been much in the way of supporter pressure brought to bear on the Board at Arsenal, its even less existent now that the modern day tarquins inhabit the ground. I ll be surprised if AW doesnt sign up for an extended stint at the gents social club again. Cushy number there for him. He ll have approved those 2 coming in, if they do. - Post No. 110553


Highbury Boy  13:59pm 2nd Nov 2017

It's nice to read an optimistic article penned by you Kevin but I think we've heard similar stories of likely change before and they've never really changed anything important. We have to recognise that while Stan controls the majority of the shares and the Board and while Wenger controls the football side nothing fundamental will change. A bit of extra seating at the stadium, a few cones on the pitch at half time, perhaps a change of menu in the Colney dining room but overall no real change . And why not? The Company is profitable and with Amazon,Netflix and others likely to bid against Sky and BT for TV rights the income from actual attendance is becoming less meaningful.The share price is likely to rise even higher so unless Stan gets a super high offer he is going nowhere. AGMs etc don't bother him. He'll get his PR people to put an article in a friendly paper about how much he loves soccer and Arsenal. - Post No. 110554


Aylesbury Gooner  14:16pm 2nd Nov 2017

Agree with Perryashburtongroves nothing will change whilst Wenger is around the place hes still got overall control on everything that happens at the souless bowl.SKG1 yes you would think supporters would see what happen at the AGM and the comtempt they have for fans.Maybe one day the fans that still attend matches will smell the coffee,we can only hope lol... - Post No. 110555


Paulward  15:08pm 2nd Nov 2017

Change highly likely ? Have to disagree with you on that Kevin. Wenger is well aware that another cup win, and / or a scrambled 4 th place finish will guarantee his job for another year. If he wins the Europa league he can finish 7th and still keep his job. Wouldn’t be a huge surprise if it happens either. All this talk of reviewing his position is just that, talk. He’s said a million times he won’t break a contract and it would probably take a finish outside of the top six and a blow out in all 3 cups for him to be sacked. Change highly unlikely I would say. - Post No. 110557


mbg  15:35pm 2nd Nov 2017

Any planning for TOF's departure and edging the weasel closer to the exit door is fine by me, it can't come soon enough, it should have happened years ago, but anything else and their just two more nodding dogs yes men to appease the dissidents. We want wenger out now. - Post No. 110558


Ando  16:07pm 2nd Nov 2017

nothing will change all the time the ''over achieving''continues with the business model - Post No. 110559


mbg  16:52pm 2nd Nov 2017

bobbybigb, yes remember the time when the spuds were years behind us, when we were winning the title at the lane and planting the trophy on their centre circle among other things, etc, yes they'd take us in the odd game but we'd never be too bothered, and we had the chance to build on that superiority (and indeed more than one chance)and leave them even further behind, (a proper manager presented with an opportunity like that would have) not just on our rival and neighbours but all the other top clubs too, fergie seen that and realised it, and made sure it didn't happen and didn't let it happen to them, but he needn't have worried (and others along with him) it never happened with the fraud of a manager we had, he wasn't up to the job he hadn't it in him (and a lot of us realised it/that then along with fergie and other managers) and now it's the other way around they've progressed and are progressing and have passed us while we've regressed big time and are still regressing while bumbling along with the same past it fraud, still trying and failing miserably even after all this time to build even one squad/team (and in the process destroying and air brushing our proud history and traditions out of existence)while in between fergie built three, as Kevin has mentioned in his article Conte's and Overmars rebuilding job, what does that tell us ? and indeed is going to be the case for whoever takes over. Like I've said wenger is still trying for thirteen fourteen years now to rebuild/build one team, and failing miserably and will continue to, what does that tell us about him ? And they still support him ? So much for this bulls***e we keep hearing from the old fraud himself and more so his AKB wengerite moonies that when he goes he will be leaving the club in good stead and in a good place, you couldn't make it up, good place my arse. wenger out now and his moonies with him. - Post No. 110560


Bard  16:53pm 2nd Nov 2017

Good positive post Kev. Its hard to see how Wenger will allow any change. This summer was a good time to revamp his backroom team and what did he do? Nothing but give then all new contracts. I really do hope that the club and Wenger agree a parting of the ways at the end of the season. The games we have coming up could be a disaster. but then we have been here before. The way the club spin things, the Titanic would be spun as a triumph of nautical engineering for staying afloat for so long. - Post No. 110561


Seven Kings Gooner1  17:48pm 2nd Nov 2017

Good point Ron, if it happens it will be because Arsene says it can happen. Their job titles will be "Arsene's assistant number one" and "Arsene's assistant number two" Highbury Boy, yes I was forgetting that stadium attendance is small beer compared to TV rights! - Post No. 110562


Seven Kings Gooner1  18:05pm 2nd Nov 2017

Bard, lovely post about the Titanic, you could see it now, Captain Wenger standing on the bridge surrounded by Arsenal fans all clapping and chanting his name. - Post No. 110563


mbg  19:33pm 2nd Nov 2017

At the end of the day if these appointments are likely to happen their not without the weasel's say so and approval, so therefor (and most unfortunately) no threat to him. wenger out tonight. - Post No. 110564


CORNISH GOONER  19:40pm 2nd Nov 2017

Very cynical about change at The Hipster Stadium but still you never know. Nice positive article but Monsieur Hulot is still there & still talking incessant bollocks. As to the 2 appointees - I always thought Overmars a bit flakey & not a real Arsenal guy. As to "Salieri" he is unknown to me but if he doesn't mind getting his hands dirty dealing with those scummy supe-agents ( unlike our French snob) then that's fine by me. - Post No. 110565


mbg  20:17pm 2nd Nov 2017

Bard, yes mighty quip about the Titanic, SKG1, and nice one ref wenger on the bridge surrounded by AKB's applauding, and you can just imagine all the excuses, it's not your fault, the iceberg shouldn't have been there it was out of position and off side, a bust would have been commissioned by the wengerites in his honour and of recognition as having single handily kept her afloat for an extra fifteen minutes, until of course it was shown the ice berg wasn't off side, then it would have been somebody else's fault bouldy would have had to salute him and put the revolver in his mouth. wenger out tonight. - Post No. 110566


mbg  23:51pm 2nd Nov 2017

What the fook does Kevin Campbell look like on ropey cup highlights with his dickie bow ? along side David Icke, is he looking for a game with wengers nice boys. Any resignation yet. - Post No. 110567


markymark  23:52pm 2nd Nov 2017

Just one little outside influence could cause an earthquake at the Emirates and that is ToOaW’s favourite team the Spuds. If they start seriously campaigning in Europe it makes Wengo look small beer. Add a possible large financial write off and you could see a call to Ancelotti . - Post No. 110568


Yes its Ron  10:06am 3rd Nov 2017

Guys, Sundays game - i wouldn't be at all surprised if they put it in and dredge out a result of sorts. Man Cs marauding start has to fizzle a bit at some stage and AW has a long time habit of getting a bit of grit eked out of our dainty boys and thus a performance when he most needs it. Im going 1-1. Views lads? - Post No. 110571


Seven Kings Gooner1  10:16am 3rd Nov 2017

Morning Ron - when you check the stats we have a good record against City but their forwards and De Bruyne's form it has to be City for me 3-1. - Post No. 110572


GoonerRon  10:36am 3rd Nov 2017

Kevin - how reliable are the sources that these two appointments will be made? If it happens it can only be a positive thing. @ mbg - don't get too excitable about Spuds just yet. They've finished above us once in 21 years and we've won more trophies in the last 4 years than they have in the last 25. They are undoubtedly less Spursy than they used to be but it has taken picking the wrong manager 9 times and probably £50m in compensation payments sacking them to get here. - Post No. 110573


mbg  13:29pm 3rd Nov 2017

GoonerRon, hear what your saying there and agree, but we really had a great opportunity/opportunities to leave them way way behind and really progress and move on and it was never taken, we'll not go into why. - Post No. 110579


Issue #267 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

19th November 2017

Arsenal Turn Up on Derby Day

Online Ed: Best performance of the season sees Gunners close gap on Spurs