It’s one of the problems of our age; jokes about celebrities carry a certain ‘risk’. An innocent, gentle ribbing can fall apart at the turn of a newspaper page. I’d written a piece about Kevin Spacey’s movies while he was artistic director at the Old Vic recently; 24 hours later it was electronic fish and chip paper, never to see the light of day.
This morning, news of Sven Mislintat’s appointment brought to mind festive cheer, with Mislintat and Wine creating earworm until I recalled Cliff Richard’s travails in recent years. Rumours begat police investigations and I couldn’t quite remember how it ended. Best not to mention it then.
The appointment of the German is a step in the right direction in fixing the institutional issues at Arsenal. Too much power in not enough hands led to a waning recruitment policy. His new job title, “Head of Recruitment”, raises questions, such as how much power does he wield? Is that just a 21st century way of saying, “Chief Scout”?
With Steve Rowley’s departure from the club, quite possibly. He’s coming back in a very ‘Establishment’ way, as a ‘consultant’, presumably to hand over running the scouts. Arsène said “thanks”, which was nice.
A bigger question is whether this is modernising Arsenal with Wenger at the helm long-term, or is it preparing for his departure? For the next six months, it’s the latter; confirming the former is next summer’s task. Cynicism prevents me from believing that Arsène will depart when this deal is over. Too many people who know him predict he won’t, voluntarily at least.
Mislintat’s record at Dortmund is impressive. If he unearths more gems of the ilk of Lewandowski, Dembele and Aubameyang, fine and dandy. He needs to get cracking with Alexis and Özil most likely departing next summer.
Wenger pointed to Mislintat’s previous successes in welcoming him to the club,
“We are delighted that Sven is joining us. Identifying and developing talent is a core part of our philosophy and Sven has an outstanding track record over many years.
“We look forward to him taking our existing recruitment approach forwards.”
Arsène will not accept players being foisted upon him and nor should he. It’s a bit like online grocery shopping; Wenger must be the final arbiter of whether a ‘substitute’ is accepted when original targets can’t be landed.
Based on comments from those who know how he operates, he needs someone to push him to make the decision and that may be the most testing of Mislintat’s roles.
It is a testing time to join. Most of us are resigned to losing Sanchez, and the talk surrounding Özil ratcheted up yesterday. Team Mesut earned their 20% of the corn. Mislintat’s task is to manage to replace one or both, as well as goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and attackers. All from the same sized transfer pot as usual. Loaves and fishes are just a parlour trick by comparison.
While everyone becomes a minion, filling the air with “ooh’s” and “aah’s” at Sven’s magical touch, a more interesting journey would be through the signings which failed at Dortmund. While a reputation is forged on successes, more might be learned from the failures. If nothing else, they provide a rounded picture.
And by that, I am not referring to failed bids, but players who didn’t make the grade at Dortmund. What is Herr Mislintat’s success rate? Are we blinded by an elite few?
Whatever else we do, a new nickname is required. “Diamond Eye” sounds like a second-rate Bond villain. Or the henchman of a second-rate Bond villain.
Finally this morning, 2009 is the Time of our Lives on Dad’s Jukebox which will soon be joined by the next instalment of Bandcamp. Enjoy.