Given the AST questions tabled for today’s AGM, it’s hardly surprising that Silent Stan chose to speak out. Jeremy Wilson was chosen to be the harbinger of doom, as Not Silent Stan Anymore declared, “You don’t see us selling things. You just don’t.”
It’s a PR-piece, saving him talking at today’s meeting; instead, he’ll just circulate the interview. He’s addressed most of the points in as much details as he’s ever going to do and reached those in the fanbase who pay the Daily Telegraph to read it.
Surprisingly, he gave the green light to fans being “entitled” to hold opinions which poked a section of the electronic fanbase in the eye with a sharp stick. Entitled to hold an opinion? Don’t mind if I do. And do so respectfully, as well.
If you expected anything new, you’ll be sorely disappointed. There’s plenty of “Gee, Arsenal, Arsène is the best manager in the world” with a-whooping and a-hollering about how good KSE is for the club.
The Telegraph and Kroenke’s listed all the investments made – through “the self-sustaining model” – even if the wording is deliberately intended to give the (false) impression of KSE dipping into its pocket – with one glaring omission: players. It says volumes that Stan is excited by having “a central office, with really sharp PhD types watching the rest of the analytics trying to make sure we are creating best practices”, without mentioning anything about players.
Thank god the Telegraph put a helpful graph in there so you remember what football is all about: on the pitch.
It’s a debate I’m surprised he isn’t more in touch with. In a week when Eddie Nketiah reignited the hope of a youngster coming through the ranks, Kroenke didn’t mention the youth set-up at all. Which is a shame because the way football is going, repeating the trick of 1988/89 where a blend of experience and young players who graduated at the same time.
The Days of Change
The key is having a tactically strong manager who has the team functioning in a particular way. That was George Graham’s strength; his was a rigid view of how the team attacked and defended, which suits young players better than the laissez-faire approach Arsène prefers. The discipline instilled in the back four served Wenger well a decade later.
It’s why I don’t think we will see a repeat of that generation any time soon. With funds City, Chelsea and United have, theirs is a clear advantage in the transfer market. That doesn’t mean we can’t compete, we just use different methods. Alexandre Lacazette is an example of that, Thomas Lemar might yet do so. The players are there, it’s about the will to sign them.
We have woefully under-invested in the transfer market for a number of years. Don’t throw the money spent at me, we pay the prices but if you look at how we use our money, it’s impossible to argue Arsenal has followed a coherent recruitment policy. We’ve filled holes we think we have to or in the case of Mesut Özil, signed a good player because he was available.
Can we find that balance between youth and experience once again? There are certainly a number of young players who seem to have the potential to make the grade but there’s no sense we’re planning for that by augmenting the squad with leaders and experienced players. The regularity of collapses across a number of seasons underlines the lack of leadership on the pitch.
It’s why, certainly under Arsène, there will be no surge toward youth players coming through.
They Still Remain
Last year, Kroenke claimed it was easier to make a change and harder to keep Wenger. Hardly; fear of change is rife at Arsenal. The board, woefully unprepared for a new manager, still isn’t ready for change. The all-powerful manager still remains all-powerful.
Will a new DoF have any power at all or are they hiring a pen-pusher? Certainly Marc Overmars and Raul Sanllehi don’t seem that they will be happy in that role. Presumably there is an intention for a handover period ahead of next summer’s transfer window. Sanllehi leaves Barcelona on 1st December; from there, a decision on the manager’s future once again. Two years is a peculiar contract span for a football manager and hints at another renewal.
It’s definitely more of the same with the transition likely to be longer than anything negotiated for Brexit.