Arsène’s Way, New Homes and New Bosses

Regrets? I’ve had a few.

I’ll be able to tell a lot about you by whose voice sings those lines in your head. If it’s Sid Vicious, there’s no hope for you. Arsène’s got more than a few and in essence, he captured how we feel about the situation.

Moving from Highbury was not popular but accepted because we needed to compete. Or at least, that’s what we were told. Ivan mentioned Bayern but we weren’t listening. He actually said, “We’ll be Bayern players who enable us to compete with Everton, Burnley and Leicester.”


“Highbury didn’t die for this” is the slogan on the t-shirts we’re waiting for, and for Arsène, it was the same.

“I believe Highbury had a special spirit. It’s a cathedral, a church.

“You could smell the soul of every guy that played there. So it was special. It will always be special for me.

“The Emirates, for me, was like buying a new house. It took us a while to feel at home there. It’s a fantastic stadium — but there was something special at Highbury that you could never recreate when you build something new.”

Or to continue his cathedral theme, it’s like living in St Paul’s and seeing them build Paddy’s Wigwam over the road.

Arsène’s final pre-match press conference as Arsenal boss was a baring of the footballing soul. I like the idea his conferences were at 9 a.m. just so the hacks had to get up early. Even better was Wenger invariably keeping them waiting 15 minutes or so. Small victories make life more bearable.

The problem for the Emirates it is, like other modern football grounds, a soulless bowl. A nice soulless bowl, don’t get me wrong, but its ‘special moments’ are few and far between.

Bless This House

That’s what makes a stadium; history. Not putting banners around the bottom of tiers or pictures of a player’s dogs, but genuine heart-filling moments. Highbury had 80-odd years to build that; stories of glory with tales of woe. Everything which goes into making a football club.

To expect the Emirates to come close to that in a decade or so is unrealistic. And so terribly modern football. We want it all and we want it now.

Of course, the Ems problem is the lie it was sold on. That is Ivan’s problem to deal with and belatedly, he’s got the structure which should enable us to compete in place. The trouble is, those we were aiming to compete with a decade ago didn’t hang around and have put even more distance between us and them. We’ve moved forward by taking six steps backwards on the pitch.

Arsène knew this was coming and at least some of it was down to David Dein’s departure. Now, Dein was no saint; he was a keen – possibly the only – proponent of us moving to Wembley. The Emirates might not be perfect, but Wembley is even worse. A horrible ground and frankly, if the FA sell it, let’s hope England don’t have to play there all the time. The morality behind the sale is another matter.

Back to Dein.

“Ideally I would have loved to continue working with him,” Arsène said, before ignoring the reality of why Dein left.

“I think it was down to the fact that the football world has changed and that you build a stadium. I signed for five years accepting it will be more limited resources. When you have that you have less good players.”

And nothing to do with him going behind other shareholders’ backs. No, not at all.

You’re the One that I Want

It’s interesting because Dein essentially fulfilled Raul Sannelhi’s role and negotiating the deals, etc. Wenger fought against the essence of accountability behind a director of football, which is more the one that Sven Mislintat is filling. It’s this latter role which I suspect was more of a block to the club modernising than anything else.

Certainly, this was the angle Wenger followed in 2013 when he rejected the notion of a director of football but he opposed the idea five years earlier, despite appearing more receptive on the surface.

The new manager will be used to the concept; it comes down to personalities over whether the role works. If the manager or DoF don’t get on, then it’s usually only a matter of time before the former goes. Rarely is the latter the casualty.

And Arsenal’s new boss will be Max Allegri, according to reports. Whether you believe them is another matter, but there are claims this morning that the Italian is the one who sends the club’s chills multiplying. Whoever it is, Arsenal are preparing for the future with a long overdue overhaul of the coaching staff.

Gerry Peyton, Neil Banfield, and Boro Primorac all left with Bould, Lehmann and Sal Bibbo all waiting to speak to new boss over their futures. None of this is surprising; certainly, the first three were all identified as ‘Wenger men’ – and that’s not meant pejoratively – and it’s football’s way for the new boss to bring his own men with him and that high profile position is one of them.

However, in the short-term, Bould is a useful bridge to the dressing room. It will be for that reason (mainly) he is kept on, trying to minimise the impact of Wenger leaving.

It’s a sign change isn’t just coming, it’s here.

’til Tomorrow.

19 thoughts on “Arsène’s Way, New Homes and New Bosses

  1. Masterstroke says:

    ‘And nothing to do with him going behind other shareholders’ backs. No, not at all’.
    I must have missed that when it happened.
    So what was going on there then?
    I knew of the deal the club signed with the banks guaranteeing that Wenger would stay for at least five more years, but was there something else I completely missed?

  2. YW says:

    Dein negotiated with Kroenke and then Usmanov to bring them on board, thinking he found two investors to keep the club at the top of the PL. Didn’t bother telling the other directors what he was doing though.

    To his credit, Dein saw the way football was changing but how the hell did he manage to find the only two billionaires who were interested in sport but in putting their money into the club?

  3. Masterstroke says:


    Sorry, I thought you meant that Wenger went behind the shareholders backs.

  4. theskywalker says:

    About the Emirates stadium construction background:
    As a Highbury resident since the late 1980s, I knew that the local residents voted NO for the Stadium consultation proposal, as they were worried about the influx of thousands of supporters flooding to the area of the new stadium, through the roads leading to it, and the crowding at the the 2 tube stations, the rubbish thrown etc.. Highbury stadium was unique in that most fans took the Arsenal tube and the Northern roads out , not many walking through the Highbury middle. Somehow, despite the vote against the move by the resident, the stadium was constructed. Libdems were running the local authority then.
    Whoever becomes the manager, despite the breath of fresh air and new thinking, I could only see progress as very gradual over a few years, as the American owner is very reluctant to spend much money in buying new players.

  5. Ras says:

    C’est la fin et j n regret rien….Adieu..

  6. Uwot? says:

    And why didn’t wenger do the honourable thing & resign or threaten it when the board dumped Dein his great mate?money talks hey?still what goes around comes cost him a lot of success over the years.with Dein at the transfer helm I’ve no doubt things would have been a lot different.unfortunatly it was us the fans who were to suffer.

  7. theskywalker says:

    Dein as the vice chairman did as he liked in regards to bringing in new players, without consulting the Board. His links with both Kroenke and Usmanov turned out to be the cause of his fall. Interesting that Dein and Wenger were ( are) residents of Totteridge, and it was generally assumed that Wenger would also leave.
    When Dein left, there were only 2 PL managers who exercised total control over matters concerning the players, the team etc.. and ran the Club : Wenger and Ferguson. Wenger knew that he will not get this kind of position in any Club in Europe; hence stayed put knowing the owner. The latter considered the Club as part of his property portfolio only, hence, resultant spend money buying good quality players, just ensuring that the Club stayed in the PL. Wenger more than once said he treats the owner’s money as if it is his own.

  8. James says:

    The Arsenal I grew up fanatically following, Nick Hornby-style, standing on the North Bank in all weathers died in 2006. The new stadium was part of the corporate upgrade of any big business sports team. Highbury was part of my life and history and so many amazing memories and as YW rightly says, it would be impossible for the Ems to replicate that in a decade (or ever).

    Could the club have stayed at Highbury in the world of big money that had arrived? Not unless we all accepted that we were a second tier team forever more. We still are as it happens, and I guess Wenger knew that wouldn’t really change.
    Wenger went along with the new program surely knowing Arsenal Football Club would never have the same aura again it had at Highbury. It hasn’t, and life moves on, but I’m really looking forward to the changes that are coming. I might even start watching again.

  9. Masterstroke says:

    I remember in the late fifties a well known actor/broadcaster (Jack Train) saying that Highbury was a stadium looking for a team. Later (in the 2000’s) the opposite became the case and we dealt with it admirably.
    I didn’t mind the move, it got me a valued season ticket, but will always cherish those years at the Clock End (before the away crowd took over), and hope we can continue to be a club worthy of such a wonderful stadium.
    Wenger has left an indelible mark on Arsenal Football Club and I will always respect the man for all his achievements.
    I surrendered my ST when I moved 150 miles from London, but still miss the match day buzz.
    Bristol City is as good as it gets for me now.

  10. .C says:

    Excellent stuff.

    I think the biggest thing about the change thats happening is that its clear while we will always remember and cherish the Arsene years, the club is making the clean break that many thought it couldn’t but certainly needed to do.

    Whoever the new man that comes in will do so knowing their is a system in place and they will simply be a coach who hands the list of players and/pr positions that he would lile addressed to fit his style and the likes of Huss, Sallehi and Mislintat will take care of that side of the house.

  11. Damon says:

    Do they

    My feeling is the exact opposite. There’s huge ambiguity on how the club is run and we’re winging it a bit with what the backroom are broadcasting. We all hope it’s the right noises to bringing in the right team this summer but is there too much collateral damage now to suggest it’s not just we get and the issue is further reaching. Is the best man hesitating when someone (Dein) said what was needed o convince the last time around

    The noises from the club at the moment all sound pretty good. But they always do in May and June. Intrepid hope with a huge slice of cynism. The very worst kind

    Excellent stuff.

    I think the biggest thing about the change thats happening is that its clear while we will always remember and cherish the Arsene years, the club is making the clean break that many thought it couldn’t but certainly needed to do.

    Whoever the new man that comes in will do so knowing their is a system in place and they will simply be a coach who hands the list of players and/pr positions that he would lile addressed to fit his style and the likes of Huss, Sallehi and Mislintat will take care of that side of the house.

  12. Colts says:

    Purchase a spirit bowl, add an Italian G.O.A.T. Sprinkle the goat with some dybala, fabinho or whatever it needs. Saute in a Europa pot and seal the flavour of victory. Place in a champions oven and cook for at least 4 minutes.

    Smells good.

  13. .C says:


    I would take that view except the fact that unlile previously, there are pieces in place that have not only worked but succeeded at other clubs through transitions. Sanllehi and Mislintat are two that have gone through transitions so that is nothing new and the fact that Lil Kroenke seems to be calling the shots is actually a good thing based on what has taken place in the same manner with his US clubs. I understand the negativity but I also think its different this time for the simple fact that its different people calling the shots.

    The only worry I have is the BoD but if they take the same sort of view to the new folks as they did with Arsene, then it will be a, ‘let them sort and deal with it’ view on things and thats a good thing. We finally have futbol people making futbol decisions with a proper framework in place. You mention Dein, the one that we all appreciated about him was that he was a futbol man making futbol decisions despite the board and if there was ever a man who understood that it would be Sanllehi who came from Barca where he dealt with all sorts but flourished both in finding gems but also having no issue running and doing things with and without the BoD and thr manager.

  14. .C says:


    If we get Fabinho, I would literally throw a party because he is the closest thing to Gilberto Silva there is in Europe not named Busquets. He simply doesn’t get the recognition because most don’t know or follow Monaco outside of Lemar and their attacking lot.

  15. Colts says:


    Indeed, I’d swap him for Ramsey, plus if max can’t bring dybala with him I’d settle for a fekir.

  16. .C says:


    Yup, I’d swap Ramsey or Jack plus cash and/or Welbeck for Fabinho. Dybala, would be brilliant with Lacazette and Aubameyang but don’t see Juve letting him leave.

  17. Dukey says:


    You’d swap free scoring fa cup winning come back from shattered career ending leg break Ramsey for a mars bar. Just like I’d swap elneny for a twix.

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