Vinai Venkatesham opens up after Raul Sanllehi's departure from Arsenal

'It's an honour and a privilege to work for Arsenal Football Club' says Vinai Venkatesham

Vinai Venkatesham opens up after Raul Sanllehi's departure from Arsenal

Vinai Venkatesham

I'd like to start by just saying a huge thank you to Raul.

He's been such a huge part of this football club over the last few years. I've been lucky to be a colleague of his and also a friend of his and I have a huge amount of respect for him. We've been working side by side for the last two years and one of the reasons I'm so optimistic about the future is the fantastic work that Raul has done, really being a driving force in putting together the team of people that we have across our football operations that are going to help drive this club forward.

It's been an honour and a privilege to work for Arsenal Football Club for more than 10 years and I love this club. Like many people that work at this football club, I spend pretty much every waking minute thinking about how we can improve and how we can achieve our goals and how we can achieve our objectives going forward. I know this role comes with a huge responsibility and I'm fully aware of the weight of responsibility and I'm also hugely grateful. I'm grateful to Stan Kroenke, Josh Kroenke and the rest of the Arsenal board for their trust in me. But I'm also very clear about what our fans expect and what our fans demand. And I know at the moment we're falling short of our expectations and there's a huge amount of work ahead to get this football club back to where it needs to be.
We are fortunate to be followed all around the world by hundreds of millions of passionate fans and we have an extraordinary history of success. Our fans expect and our fans demand that this football club wins trophies and is at the top of the game both here in England, but also in Europe. So what fuels me is delivering on the expectations and delivering in regard to what our fans demand of us.
We started last season full of expectations, we looked forward and we looked upwards and unfortunately it's not worked out in the way that we wanted it to. We obviously changed coach in the middle of the season, which obviously was not part of the plan, and then we've had the coronavirus hit us and hit everybody this spring. But despite all of the challenges this season has thrown at us, our squad and our players and our football staff kept fighting and they kept fighting all the way to the end. We saw on August 1 at Wembley, us winning our 14th - a record 14th - FA Cup, which was a sign of progress. I think we can look forward with some real optimism. I think, in Mikel Arteta, we have an absolutely fantastic, dynamic head coach. He forms a formidable team with Edu Gaspar, who is our technical director. And if we look at our academy, I think we're in really, really strong hands with Per Mertesacker and we have some of the most exciting young talent in the league.
Now we did of course not achieve our expectations last season and we need to do better and we need to improve. But I think we're absolutely on a positive trajectory and we're on the right path. The message really is: we need to improve. We're really focused on where we need to improve and there's lots of things that we need to do.
You would have seen a couple of weeks ago that this also involves making some difficult decisions. We had to make a difficult decision about proposing redundancies. That decision is about making sure that we have the right structure and the right size of organisation going forward, into a very, very different world that we're going to face post-coronavirus and making sure we can be as strong as possible on the other side. So there's going to be some tough decisions.
We have, in Edu and Mikel, two individuals who are responsible for our technical plan. Of course, [that is] overseen by me and the board, but those two are the experts and they have a very, very clear plan about how they want to rebalance our squad in the short term, in the medium term and in the long term. We're starting to work on that immediately in this transfer window.
There's other things that we need to do better as well. I think we can do better a job of communicating with our fans. We're not going to be able to give them a running commentary of everything that we're doing, nor are we always going to correct or be able to correct some of the misinformation there is about the club. But we need to be clear about what we're doing and what our plan is and we can get better at that.
There's of course lots of other areas that we're going to be addressing, but it's all about the same thing: trying to make this organisation as efficient as we possibly can and as high-performing as we possibly can. Because if we can do that, we give ourselves the best ability to deliver on our objectives.
We are impatient. So we know we're not where we want to be and we are impatient, because we want to get to where we want to be, as quickly as we possibly can.

I think the key message for our fans is that we all want exactly the same thing. We all want Arsenal Football Club to be back where it belongs, competing for and winning the biggest trophies in the game. That's what fuels us, that's what our focus is and we ultimately want to do that so our fans all across the world are proud of their football club for what we do and what we can achieve and what we win, but also for how we do it. Doing it in accordance with the values, the history and the tradition of this great football club.
In terms of the board, we work very, very closely. So we're in regular contact with the owners pretty much every single day and we're all here to achieve the same thing and that's to push this football club forward and to get this club back where to where it needs to be.
We've been active in the market and we saw recently that we brought in Willian from Chelsea, a signing that Edu and Mikel are really, really excited about and I'm sure our fans are excited about as well. And we'll continue to work hard this transfer window. I think it's going to be a challenging transfer window post-coronavirus, it's going to be unusual and it's going to be challenging, but we'll continue to work hard to deliver on our objectives to strengthen the squad and Edu and Mikel have a really clear plan around how they'd like to do that.
Our objectives are to be back competing for and winning the biggest trophies in the game and if you're Arsenal Football Club and if you're in the Premier League, there's two trophies that really matter and that's the Premier League trophy and the Champions League trophy. That has to be the objectives of a football club like Arsenal. It's not going to be easy, it's not going to be straightforward, there's a whole load of competition but that has to be the objective for this football club.
I've been at this football club for 10 years, but I feel just as hungry as I did on the first day. I remember the first day that I walked into Highbury House - which is our office - and I thought 'wow, I'm part of this amazing football club' and I still feel that 10 years on. I feel just as hungry and just as driven to push this football club forward. And we have a huge responsibility here.
This football club has been here for [nearly] 135 years, we have got hundreds of millions of fans all across the world that are driven for this club to succeed, they want this football club to succeed and it's in their hearts and it's part of their passion. And that's the responsibility, to deliver on those expectations. That's what this is all about.

This article first appeared on the Arsenal website.

Save The Gooner Subscribe to the printed version to help keep us in print for the 2020-21 season Save The Gooner

NEW! Subscribe to our weekly Gooner Fanzine newsletter for all the latest news, views, and videos from the intelligent voice of Arsenal supporters since 1987.

Please note that we will not share your email address with any 3rd parties.

Article Rating

Leave a comment

Sign-in with your Online Gooner forum login to add your comment. If you do not have a login register here.


  1. Bardo

    Aug 18, 2020, 11:55 #117074

    As others have noted this is a load of codswallop. The bloke has been sacked because he isnt/wasnt up to the job. Whether it has a positive effect remains to be seen. Having a super agent like Kia as your main spokesman isnt a good look for the club. I see we are going to do another Ozil with Auba and drop £250000 a week plus a 3 year contract for a 31 year old. Do the club never learn ? We will get maybe one good season out of him and another 2 filling his pension fund. Im highly skeptical of the Luiz and Willian signings. Something doesnt smell right.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Aug 17, 2020, 16:27 #117073

    Hi Lads. Marky, i really hope that youre right. Ive a good feeling about Arteta too. Hes quietly ruthless i feel. We re a few years from a title win i think and getting us top 4 will be massive from him hence my view , because of the way he carries himself and deals with the media et al si that he wouldn't need title to be attractive to other top clubs. Look at Nuno at Wolves these days and he ll perhaps never get a title at Wolves. We need to look after MA as if we dont he ll go. Youre right about Man C , personally i dont think either PG or Klopp will here for too much longer. Events in Spain could well move the landscape sooner than anybody thought. Both Real and Barcas eras have ended at long last. How i enjoyed that 2-8 the other night! Liverpool will lose players now. Maybe not this Summer but certainly next. We ll see what happens there then. Yes, lets hope OGS and FL stay in situ. Both are too limited for what those clubs expect of their teams in my view.

  3. Exiled in Pt

    Aug 17, 2020, 15:19 #117072

    Mark - agree it does not need to be top dollar ( Pepe ) is proof of that but maybe we could buy better if we were not continually telling everyone we are short of cash and perhaps spend what we do have in the right areas ..Fingers crossed

  4. markymark

    Aug 17, 2020, 14:33 #117071

    Pt to be honest I’m not too bothered if Frank or Ole are seen to be success or failures but more a case of keeping them in charge . Neither appear particularly good at tactics and seem to be prone to just another huge transfer fee will do it. Arteta appears to me to be the better tactically Arsenal need to buy well not top dollar. Sancho being a case in point . Man U appear obsessed about spending horrific money on him

  5. Exiled in Pt

    Aug 17, 2020, 13:36 #117070

    All just seems the same old nonsense . No surprise we have been paying over the odds for players for years so must of been easy for old Raul to shift a few bob into his own pocket .. So far this we have signed another over 30s Chelski player ... Was not a fan of Raul but have the yanks got rid so they have their yes men now in place ?? Not sure Ole and fat Frank have failed they have got their teams in the CL next season and their boards are spending money. MA has a lot to do to get this current team in the top 4 in my humble opinion but he looks like he has all the makings of a very good Barcelona coach in a year or two

  6. markymark

    Aug 17, 2020, 12:52 #117069

    In answer to the would Arteta go? I’d say the risk would be after a title win and not before. He’s winning a power battle at the Emirates and one or two rivals still haven’t got it right with City possibly on a downward curve leaving Liverpool to probably mop up for the next two seasons I’m very positive about Arsenal and pretty positive that MA will see out 3 seasons

  7. markymark

    Aug 17, 2020, 12:32 #117068

    As nicely summed up on another site. There’s two ways to get rid . You either do a gardening leave and do a full investigation ( much like the McDonalds chief ) or you do any everyone loves each other and it’s so sad to see you go but you do have 5 minutes to clear your desk. The lawyer chap has had his root around , asked some questions and then not liked what he’d heard or seen in paper trail. Arsenal win the cup , one or two good purchases coming in. A chap who looked and sounded a bit dodgy has gone and both Ole and Frank have very publicly failed. Good August so far I’d say !

  8. itsRonagain2

    Aug 17, 2020, 12:20 #117067

    CG - agree. Its a 'war zone' in that backroom there for sure. Agree on MA too. His stock has already risen by the FAC win. If he gets the team to the top 4 or even very close to it, he ll be in demand im sure. Can they or more to the point, would Arsenal resist? I doubt it. Maybe MA sees us a stepping stone anyway. Lets face it, quite a few of the players do these days.


    Aug 17, 2020, 11:04 #117066

    Usual bland PR stuff. I suspect that there are some very unpleasant issues behind this current turbulence. What annoys the hell out of me is that Stanley & Jnr. have owned the asset (I won't say Football Club) for many years & shown zero interest in it's prime function. I have seen comments that are sympathetic to them because of the £ that have been spent in their name - as if they are victims for gods sake! They must surely be the most incompetent of that exclusive breed of Billionaires - no cash either apparently. Can't see Mikel putting up with too much more of this now that he has started to prove himself in the market place.

  10. itsRonagain2

    Aug 17, 2020, 10:21 #117064

    Apart from MA himself theres little to be inspired about by any of the Boardroom , backroom or the support staff to MA at Arsenal. Its not just them though, its endemic in modern football it sees to me to have crew and owners who have no real care for or knowledge of football, so why should we be any different.

  11. RobG

    Aug 17, 2020, 9:43 #117063

    Hard to see this as anything but sugar coated 'puff'. We have been spoon fed variants of this - "Our objectives are to be back competing for and winning the biggest trophies in the game and if you're Arsenal Football Club and if you're in the Premier League, there's two trophies that really matter" - for the last fifteen years.