Back Room Changes: Modernisation or Preparing for a Post-Wenger Future?

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.

Diamond Eye

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.

Dad’s Jukebox

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.

’til Tomorrow.



43 thoughts on “Back Room Changes: Modernisation or Preparing for a Post-Wenger Future?

  1. Now that was a really interesting read, YW, thank you.

    Cliff Richard was not charged with anything, received an apology from the Fuzz, and last I read, he is going to sue them.

  2. ‘Diamond eye’ hits the ground running hopefully, he hits the bulls eye in the scouting department for the Arsenal.

  3. Good Morning, C, (when you raise your head from slumberland). 🙂

    Sorry I could not get back to chat to you and Welsh Cardie last night — but it was difficult to shake off the Nut Cracker — you know how it is! 😀

    Anyway I thought I would précis a short article that nestled in the London Times yesterday, about Mesut – especially for you, his bestest buddy. lol

    — It was not necessary to watch Arsenal’s deserved victory over Spurs, yesterday, to conclude that Özil is one of the finest players in the Premier League. Already a World Cup winner with 88 caps, he has long been able to illuminate matches with his vision and finesse.

    Those who say he is lazy or under-motivated betrays one of the classic delusions of the English game, that insinuates that commitment must manifest itself in high impact tackles, demented, headless chicken runs, hither and thither and all done with a manic intensity.

    Özil has a different conception of the game. In 2015/16 he made 19 assists, as many as any player in Premier League history with the sole exception of Thierry Henry. When Arsenal beat Sunderland last May he created the most chances in a single game [12] since Opta started taking records.
    He does not always track back, but few players unlock defences with such consistent felicity.

    The laziness jibe is anyway unfair, even in its own terms, when you consider that Özil covered more distance over the course of last season than any other Arsenal player, with the exception of Nacho Monreal – even if you take the average distance covered per match.
    He works harder and covers more distance than Sanchez, a player most Arsenal fans praise for his commitment. In fact, Özil runs an average 1.5 Km farther than Sanchez in each 90 minutes.

    Of course he does not play well in every match, and he would doubtless admit himself that he could improve on certain aspects of his game. But the shrillness of the criticism he receives says more about his detractors than it does about the player.

    Could not agree more. 🙂

  4. Someone will no doubt tell me it is old news, but I heard a couple of weeks ago about something I knew nothing about.

    It might have gone out of my head as the next game, at that time, was the NLD and I might not have wanted to jinx the game, so perhaps sub-consciously I suppressed the data.

    Anyway, someone told me that the Spuds had only won one away game to Arsenal, either at Highbury or the Emirates, since May 1993. (I sort of knew that once it was out there – but what a fandamntastic achievement!) and as Saturday was my first game at the Emirates for a while, and I am still luxuriating in the memory of it – to think of that piece of history is also wonderful. 😀

  5. “While a reputation is forged on successes, more might be learned from the failures” – That is definitely true, and changes the conversations while we all focus on the success stories like Dembele and co.

  6. Hi JonnyG, 🙂

    I am still on a high from Saturday, after some miserable performances in recent weeks — (Andy will tell me I have made a typo there – and ‘weeks’ should read ‘seasons’ but ….. 🙂 ) and I am also pretty unhappy that Alexis and Mesut, undoubtedly our best players, are both likely to ship out in January, or at the end of the season.

    We can afford them – and we should have agreed to pay their contract demands — and then if they still refused to sign, we fans would know it was not in Arsenal’s hands to change matters.
    As it stands it looks like we (the club) were being difficult about pay – and in this age of football – there is a cornucopia of money washing through the game – and whether or not they deserve it is entirely irrelevant for two such key players.

    Still cannot figure out how all that was allowed to happen!

  7. The successes or failures of Sven Mislintat’s scouting role at Dortmund are history, and you learn little by looking back and picking holes — that is all behind him now, and his story will be told from the moment he signed his Arsenal contract.

    Give us the first Aubameyang, or Lewandowski or Dembele type of player, Sven, and a new Star is Born. 😀

  8. Yogi this is one of those C type articles, filled and begging thr questions of talent and player evaluations!

    This is one of those signings that can help shape a club if he is used properly. Think about this, he and Klopp were the architects of that young Dortmund team that took over Europe and he has continued to streamline talent. Sure he can be judged on hia failurea but lets also take a look at his successes at every level. For me I would think for every Reus, Lewandowski and Aubameyang he would be allowed 4-5 onea that become good squad players or 2-3 complete failures.

    I hope one of his first moves is to tell Arsene to go after Dembele of Celtic should Sanchez leave.

  9. I wonder how people would feel if after all of this Sanchez stays and Ozil ends up at Barca? I know most say they have preferred that Sanchez stays but he would be staying and it would probably be on astronomical wages. It would be quite interesting to see

  10. HenryB,

    Just saw this little nugget about Ozil as well from Opta:

    30 – Mesut Ozil has created more goalscoring chances from open play than any other Premier League player this season (30). Brew.

  11. Hi, C,

    Astronomical wages? Frankly the question has to be ‘so what?’.

    If we want to get to the top in football we just have to pay the salaries to get the best players, or improve the contracts of players like Özil and Sanchez – or they will walk.

    Why should you, or I, worry about what Kroenke has to pay people? He is already a billionaire, and every sponsorship deal increases the income with competitions won – and you need the best players at top salaries to win them competitions — it is a self-fulfilling virtuous circle benefitting all parties.

    No need to worry about the finances – leave that to the accountants. 😀

  12. HenryB,

    Personally, I would pay Ozil and Sanchez 250-300k and sign them up and then get in some reinformcements in and build a proper team because contrary to what our friend Bill believes, Ozil hasn’t been less effective because as Yogi pointed out, lets not forget how brilliant he was in the 2nd half of last season including the semi and Final of the FA Cup.

    Pay Sanchez or we will have to pay both transfer fee and wages which will be even more.

    Trust, I don’t give a hoot how much Silent Stan has to pay, I mean if anything is to go by, he is actually loosing his purse based on the way he has paid some of his LA Rams and the trades he has made.

  13. HenryB,

    Yup, its and with that people bang on about De Bruyne but the biggest difference between De Bruyne and Ozil is that De Bruyne has gotten to play with Aguero, Sane, Jesus hell even Sterling Iheanacho (say what you want but he has an insane goal rate) and Silva while Ozil has been creating chances for Sanchez (comparable), Lacazette (just joined this summer and really only played wit Ozil in what, 3-4 matches and would be comparable to the Citeh group)Ramsey, Giroud, Theo, Welbeck and Iwobi. I know if I was a playmaker creating chances which group I would prefer.

  14. C,

    And that’s the way we have to go — like Citeh, we need to identify the players we need, pay what is necessary and the ‘wins’ will come, and with them the sponsorship money will increase and will pay for the increased salaries of the best players.

    The new guy, hopefully, is a sign of movement in the above.

    I cannot blame either the Öz or Alexis if they say ‘see ya’ because our club do not have a vision which includes buying players comparable to their standard. Letting them go is putting things into reverse.

    Frustrates me, to be honest.

  15. HenryB,

    Completely agree! I think that is the problem, Arsene is identifying the wrong people that he needs and pays them but then doesn’t want to pay our better players. For instance, I like Le Coq but what was the point of giving him a contract extension last season when you gave Giroud one as well? What if those players were sold and not only a new player was brought into midfield but also in attack along with Lacazette or we use their wages to help pay Ozil and Sanchez.

    I like you, really hope that the new guy is a movement in the right direction and surely if anybody knows or has heard about his work it would be Ozil.

    Most people if they really think about it can’t blame Ozil and Sanchez for leaving because there really isn’t a vision including, as you say buying players of comparable standard which in our current team would really only be Sead, Lacazette and Bellerin for sure with possibly others joining. Trust mate, I’m just as frustrated as you are and if Ozil really is sold for 17-20m to Barca, I might go on an epic rant but I would also be really happy for Ozil even though I wish he would stay.

  16. Great post Yogi

    I can’t see Arsene voluntarily leaving for as long as his health holds out. I would not be surprised if he is the manager until 2025. It will be interesting how that impacts someone like Mislintat. Assistant coaches and support staff who think for themselves or cross Arsene probably will not last very long at Arsenal. I don’t expect Arsene to give up final decision making on any subject but I would guess that Mislintat has been promised some autonomy or I doubt he would have come. How things work out for him remains to be seen.

  17. C

    There are 2 major differences between De Bruyne and Ozil. De Bruyne is not really a defensive liability. Even at his best Mourinho would regularly sub out Ozil around 60-70 minutes to solidify the team. However, the most critical difference at this point is 3 years of age. 3-4 years ago, Ozil probably every bit as good on a consistent basis as De Bruyne but that is not true anymore and one good game against the Spurs does not change a 2 year trend. There is a reason Ozil divides opinions and there are plenty of people who know a lot more about football then I do who share my concerns. De Bruyne on the other hand is currently where Ozil was 3-4 years ago.

  18. C,

    I do wonder about Iheanacho. He looked to be a great finisher given his age and, as you said, had great goal per minute stats at City. He doesn’t really appear to have done that much at Leicester and has now been assigned to a back up role. Does he need a decent supply to convert the chances, or can he create himself? It seems a shame that the move hasn’t worked out for him so far.

  19. Just looking around Europe, its quite interesting to see how many of the Big 4 leagues titles look set to be or could be done and dusted by mid or end of January. Barca at 4 points up on 2nd place Valencia (yup with Gabriel at the heart of their defense and playing superbly) but most think they will fall off, but Barca are 10 points adrift of both Real and Atheltico Madrid.

    Bayern are starting to pull away, Citeh are running away, PSG are starting to figure it and look set to run and hide which only leaves Serie A where Napoli, Inter and Juve look set to fight it out until the bitter end.

  20. Bill,

    You might want to be careful about that Mourinho thing, remember Mourinho bought De Bruyne and then sold him because he wouldn’t do the defensive work and he also didn’t buy into Mourinho and the way he wanted to play yet Mourinho wouldn’t even sell us Demba Ba because we had Ozil. Also, Ozil was regularly subbed off because they would be up 2-3 goals. I think the thing that your missing is that I wasn’t just talking about Ozil but the supporting cast as well which works for De Bruyne compared to Ozil. You say 2 years, I think your exaggerating quite a bit but that is something that we genuinely disagree on and that won’t change. Ozil divides opinions because he doesn’t always appear to do the defensive work that some want but see the article that Henry posted.

  21. Wavey,

    Its crazy, but I think it was a TERRIBLE move for Iheanacho because Vardy is the exact same type of striker and Vardy is the clear cut #1. The other thing is that they also have Slimani who isn’t too shabby himself. Iheanacho, when I have watched him play isn’t the type like Lacazette who can receive and create a goal, Iheanacho to me seems like a great finisher who can score a goal off a half chance but not from absolutely nothing. At Citeh he would get half chances and when he did there was little if any doubt it was a goal, at Leicester he sort of needs to create his own chance based on their style of play. In another system, say like Liverpool, Southampton, hell even at Arsenal where half chances are created quite a bit but good chances get created at times reguarly, I think he could easily bang in 15 PL goals at minimum in a season.

  22. C

    Fair enough about De Bruyne. Mourinho did sell him.

    What each fan sees when he watches a player is very much dependent on his preexisting bias regarding that player and I would expect to stick with your guys forever. I do the same thing to some degree. However, like it or not players who are playing up to expectations on a somewhat consistent basis do not divide mainstream opinion.

  23. Bill,

    And thus is the problem mate, if Ozil came with a pre-existing notion of a languid style and not one that covers a lot of ground, nor tracking back; then people will see that in every match but its not what is actually happening. For instance, people bang on about Sanchez’s work rate but I could show you loads and loads of times when Sanchez was walking about the pitch, would it change your notion, probably not because he doesn’t have that reputation. Ozil came with a reputation for being a goal creator and chance creator and he is still doing that and everything else is icing on the cake.

  24. C

    No one would care about Ozil or De Bruyne not tracking back if they produce on the attacking end. No one really expects that from either of them. No one was making an issue of the defensive liability and there were no divided opinions when Ozil was leading the league in assists in 2015. The defense only becomes an issue when the player is not living up to expectations and not producing on the attacking end of the pitch.

    Ozil has played 2 good games this season and in both games he has produced assists and his only goal in those games. He played well in the first half of 2015/16. He produces when he plays well. Ozil does not appear “languid” and his contribution is very apparent to everyone when he plays well. He only appears languid and invisible when he is not playing well and that’s when his production drops off. The lack of production and disappearing for the majority of games is why he divides mainstream opinion.

  25. Nacho seems to think that both Ozil and Sanchez will stay:

    “The feeling is that they will continue,” Monreal told IBTimes UK. “At no time have we talked about the possibility of them leaving. Not at all. They are committed to the group and we will see what happens.

    “I can’t say much about it. It does not depend on me. The situation is clear. They are two vital players for Arsenal. They are two players who end their contracts at the end of the season.

    “If the club want them to stay beyond December [the January transfer window] they will follow. Yet, I do not know the club’s intentions. It is other people who are the ones who have to make a decision.”

  26. No one cares about Sanchez losing the ball on occasion when he is scoring regularly and producing assists. Losing the ball only becomes a problem when his production is not meeting the teams needs and not living up to expectations

  27. The other thing I do wonder is now much will the new man effect the youth set-up, we (well those that followed the youth set-up) saw and read about how much Jonkers and Arsene didn’t see eye to eye on talent and talent evaluations; will Arsene and Mislintat be able to work together.

    Also will Mislintat be able to push Arsene to make decisions on talent and having a Plan A and Plan B? That will be quite interesting because Arsene might be able to pull that who 10000000 match thing but Mislintat can say look at the last 10 years for Dortmund, I know WTF I’m doing.

  28. Bill,

    That’s the problem, you can’t go after an attacking player for not tracking back when he is having a tough time or not overly impressing on the match just like you can’t go after say a defender for not always helping out in attack if they are struggling defensively. I think the thing is, if Ozil has created more goal scoring chances in open play than any other PL player then in all actuality he is producing but he isn’t getting the end results based on those that are supposing to be finishing off the chances. For instance, Ramsey has the most shots of ANY Arsenal player this season but he only has 1 goal, now say Ozil has created 6 of those chances, if Ramsey converts 3 more chances Ozil has 3 more assists and is viewed as playing well but since Ramsey can’t shoot and kicks the ball out of the Emirates stadium then Ramsey is viewed as having a good game because he ‘got into position’ even though it was Ozil who found him in space and created the chance.

    Ozil has played 2 good complete matches by his own standard but he has created chances in all of the matches and is that the point of him? for instance, against Leicester how many chances he created for Welbeck who fluffed his lines but then you look at the goal that Welbeck did score it was Ozil who dictated the move. Also, this notion that he only played well in the first half of 15/16 and not the back is crazy, I mean from:

    12/28 to the end of the season he had 4 goals 5 assists in 19 appearances
    Last season he finished with 8 goals and 9 assists in the PL and 12 goals and 13 assists across all compeitions but in the back half of last season he recorded 3 goals and 7 assists 20 appearances from 01/22/2017 – 05/27/2017, which means in the business end of the season he has accounted for 19 goals in 39 appearances which is basically 1 in 2.

  29. Bill,

    So that tells me that you have to accept a players strengths and weaknesses and can’t simply say, “well we can only accept his strengths and not his weaknesses”.

  30. C

    Every player has strengths and weaknesses. Sanchez is going to lose the ball and he will try to hard to do things himself sometimes but you have to accept that when he is scoring goals and creating assists because the positives outweigh the negatives. On the other hand if he is not producing goals then the negatives become much more of a problem. Same with Ozil. No one expects him to be a great defender and no one really points out his liability when he is playing well and producing the assists we need from him. When he is not producing then the negatives become much more of an issue. Its the same for every player. That is very straight forward.

    Gilberto Silva was the type of player who could do his job really well and not catch your eye. Ozil and Sanchez are both the opposite. We notice when they are playing well and the stat sheet tells us that with goals and assists. If they disappear then they are not helping the team and the negatives start to outweigh the positives.

  31. Over the moon!

    Keeping our best player and handing another dud to Barcelona?

    I wonder how people would feel if after all of this Sanchez stays and Ozil ends up at Barca? I know most say they have preferred that Sanchez stays but he would be staying and it would probably be on astronomical wages. It would be quite interesting to see

  32. We need production from our forwards because they give us almost all of our goals and the majority of our assists. We can’t compete at the top levels without that production. Ozil produces numbers when he plays well and his production falls off when he becomes invisible. Blaming Ramsey or Giroud is just making excuses. It would be a mistake to resign either Ozil or Sanchez if they are not producing.

  33. Bill,

    Gilberto Silva, now there was a player that Wenger moved on far too quickly. You know a proper defensive midfielder…

  34. Bill,

    Right and along with those stats comes the stat like goal chances created and if a player is creating chances from open play and he is a playmaker than he is doing his job, no?

    Silva plays in a position that its better not to be heard of but his value to the team wasn’t in the numbers it was in the style of play. For instance, without Silva, Vieira isn’t free to be the player that he was because he would have had to focus much more on sitting and the defensive side.

  35. Pete the Thirst,

    Is he really a dud? Has the most chance created and assists since his arrival and that is amazing given up until this season he had to rely on Giroud, Theo, Ox and Iwobi to fill in 2 of the front 3 positions.

  36. I think your missing my point about players like Ramsey and Giroud and you can even add Theo and Ox to that mix; are they useful players, absolutely and there is no denying that BUT if you are counting on them to provide you with most of your goals at your club, it doesn’t matter how many chances you create because they will be inconsistent at best.

    I mean you could also think about it like this, of the top say 6 or 7 clubs , how many would have the list that I provided as sure fire starters before this season? I mean Ozil damn near broke the assist record and shattered the chances created in 15/16 and the best Giroud could do was 16 PL goals, hell even Mahrez (a winger) and Lukuka (played on a Everton side that he often had to do it on his own) scored more goals and then Ighalo and Defoe were 1 less them him with 15 goals.

    That is where Mislintat could be massive because he will hopeful in recruiting players that can be at the very least more consistent in the attack when it comes to goal scorer, replacing the likes of Giroud and Theo with somebody like Dembele of Celtic; at least make the suggestion.

  37. Pochettino starts Kane and Alli, not trying to be a dick but if they are fit to start against Arsenal AND then 3 days later start against Dortmund, then either Pochettino is a lunatic for risking his players or all the this talk them not being fit enough to face Arsenal and that is part of the reason they played poorly needs to stop.

Comments are closed.