Ivan Gazidis, New York Times, 26th July 2016:
Validation comes with winning major trophies. So no, I don’t feel validated by consistency. I will feel validated when we’re able to win, and win by being true to our values and by playing great football. I think it’s a very high ambition for us — winning, and winning the right way — but we’re going to continue to strive toward that.
Gazidis was answering a question about whether he felt Arsenal’s approach to football left him feeling validated with United and Chelsea struggling and spending their way out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into.
On so many levels, it was the wrong answer. Entirely. Primarily, where was the acknowledgement that Arsenal are watching events at Old Trafford very keenly, learning lessons from their mistakes.
He didn’t say it. Perhaps they are doing just that but I doubt it. You may choose to believe they are doing just that; you have more faith in the board than I.
Idly reading the interview, I was struck by one fundamental thought: Arsenal is a club run by dreamers. Ivan dreams of “winning the right way”, of winning by holding “true to our values” and “by playing great football”. The terms of an idealist.
The cutting edge of pragmatism is conspicuous by its absence.
Arsenal is not a club geared to succeed. The power brokers at the Emirates, on and off the pitch, are not ruthless enough to take the club to the very top.
Gazidis has overseen the commercial growth of the Plc without providing the leadership the football club needs. Like other board members, he is respectful of Arsène. Like the other board members, he is overawed by the manager’s presence; impotent when it comes to influence.
And like the rest of the board, he is intent on ensuring that any failures in the transfer market are laid firmly at the door of the manager. So much for collective responsibility.
Of course the final say on any deal should be Arsène’s but he should be saying a lot more than just ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ during the whole process. And is probably hoping Ivan will say at lot less because most of what he does say is nonsensical:
We believe, fundamentally, in giving a chance to young players. We believe, fundamentally, in playing aggressive, attractive football. We believe, fundamentally, that we should conduct ourselves as a football club in the right way, in a way that makes our fans proud. So I would say, winning is imperative, but for us it’s not enough to win. We have to win in the right way. And that’s an even higher, more ambitious goal, but that’s something we’re convinced that we can do.
You may he’s a dreamer and you’re not the only one. It’s rubbish, to be honest; meaningless waffle in an arse-covering exercise. Every club strives to “win in the right way” but very few achieve that. Arguably, the only right way is to find consistency, the level of performance which wins titles. Aesthetics? Secondary unless you’re Arsenal where there is a strong case to believe that comes first.
It’s interesting that Gazidis believes “winning with style and grace” are core Arsenal values. His remark that little heed is paid to the past underlines that; our title-winning teams before his arrival were typically snarling and hard, mixing beauty and the beastly side of football. Not in the past decade; we don’t do nasty, we’re ‘nice’.
What irritates most is the pointless of it all. We know United, Chelsea, City and the others have more money than us; it’s why we finish seventh or eighth in the rich list each year.
We take it on board that you can’t just walk into another boardroom and demand, “Look at my wad!”. We know that Ivan but there is a pile of cash in the bank which can service the transfer agreements. And that my friend, is why talk about making mistakes is the transfer market is utter rubbish. Did you not see Gervinho? Chamakh? There is a long list of mistakes from when we had the cash to the times when we were strapped for it.
The biggest mistake this transfer window appears to be letting you do the rounds with US-based media.
There’s no two ways about it, the interview said very little of substance but it laid the naiveté of those running the club bare. The problem is that this is a cynical world and football is the arch-bastion of capitalism. It demands ruthlessness and Arsenal don’t have that instinct in the business of football.