UEFA Taking The Mkhi & Weak Ownership

Whether it be Westminster or the White House, a week is a long time in politics. Football is no different. UEFA and FIFA drag their heels in a way which causes envy in Brussels and Strasbourg. This week has been no different with tin helmets dished out by the receptionists at UEFA HQ in Nyon. It’s called the House of European Football, apparently.

The clubs are giving them stick on every level. From the smaller nations bemoaning the risible proposals for the Champions League from 2024 to Arsenal issuing a statement in support of fans for whom there and Baku is one of the more arduous trips to undertake.

In between, the club is still awaiting assurances on Henryk Mkhitaryan’s safety. The democratically elected, ahem, government of Azerbaijan and UEFA are both maintaining radio silence on this one. Some might say it’s karma, the universe paying us back for Auriergate. Nothing of the sort; this is about player safety and the equation ought to be simple. If the Azeris can’t guarantee Mkhitaryan safety, they forfeit this final and Euro2020 games proposed for the country.

UEFA is too spineless to act. They are keeping their heads down until someone pops up to say it is too late to move the match so Baku it is. Were it about Lionel Messi or Ronaldo, you can bet your bottom dollar that things would be different. But we are Arsenal and kicking up a stink is not our style.

It’s typically British to issue a strongly worded statement but frankly, we have no leverage, and don’t UEFA know it. We can’t pull out of the final nor will we play teenagers; the barrel is quite a comfortable perch for us to occupy, it seems.

Is A Strong Finish To The Season A Strong Start To The Summer?

Unlike Paul Doyle in the Guardian, I don’t think the Armenian is one of our top players. One of our top earners, certainly, and one we’d like to be shot of this summer.

Will we miss him? Perhaps. He is a useful sub and laid on a nice pass for Aubameyang’s hat-trick goal. Overall, however, he’s been disappointing this season. But it’s a final and Unai must have his best squad available.

If the Championship play-off final is the richest domestic match, the Europa League final is surely similarly positioned in European club competition? Must-win feels about the right level to pitch it at for several reasons.

The coming transfer window is one of them. Arsenal, according to reports, are set to confirm Francis Cagigao as head of recruitment on a permanent basis which closes that matter. With Edu’s rumoured arrival in July, the ‘recruitment team’ is in place. Or is it a posse? Is Raul that hip? If he were, our former ‘rock star recruiter’ wouldn’t be sports director at VfB Stuttgart.

Reality kicks in. Sven was ‘Ivan’s man’; Raul didn’t fancy the German as technical director and I doubt the real reasons why will ever surface. The ‘mess’, if that’s the right door, falls squarely at Gazidis’ door. He didn’t finish the restructure and left it to Sanllehi to sort out. Monchi determined Sevilla was a better project for him, dashing Arsenal’s hopes.

Appointing a technical director was widely seen as crucial to Arsenal’s summer. If Cagigao and his team carried out their jobs properly, that’s not the case. Huss Fahmy is the new Dick Law, not Edu. I recall reading somewhere and where escapes me, that Sanllehi has a different job spec for the technical director in mind.

What Is It? Do Tell! Do Tell!

The primary function is to co-ordinate all levels of the football club so that the XI’s all play the same way. This means, at the top, Unai must impose his own style of play on the first team. It’s fair to say he didn’t do that this season.

We lurched from a back three to back four without any real rhyme or reason at times. The key driver for that, I think, came from our lax defensive displays we dropped, particularly away from home. Yes, some of that is down to losing Rob Holding at Old Trafford, exacerbated by Hector Bellerin’s season-ending injury. However, we weren’t particularly solid prior to either of those events and Emery’s ideas floundered as he discovered how laid back our defenders approach to their jobs is.

That’s not to say the Spaniard isn’t without flaws as his record of substitutions which showed diminishing returns as the season progressed underlined. It’s one of the reasons why some are unconvinced by his appointment. The second season will be important in that respect.

But as a club, we have much to do if we are to move forward on and off the pitch. There’s something rotten if our transfer budget is set at £40m, increasing only if we win in Baku plus any sales. The poor state of play from transfers and contract negotiations in previous years is haunting us now. We’re paying some of the squad Champions League wages with a Europa League income. Wages, it has to be said, that even winners of the Champions League would blanche at paying.

Time Is Not Your Friend

Can we put it right in one year? There’s precious little evidence to suggest that improving our lot is a short-term fix. Indeed, looking at how we played this year, it’s likely to be another four windows before we’re back to being considered a permanent fixture in the top four, or at least challenging for it.

Liverpool are where we want to be yet before FSG took over at Anfield, they envied us. The Telegraph carried a piece on their takeover on Merseyside and contained this nugget:

One ex-Liverpool coach tells the story of being out for dinner with an Arsenal scout and discussing a player of interest. The scout called Arsene Wenger and within 30 minutes David Dein was on the phone arranging a meeting with the player’s representatives.

“I thought to myself, ‘they are quick. I wish we were able to do that,’” he said, ruefully.

How times change.

Dynamic owners is a fundamental difference between the two clubs. It’s claimed John W. Henry spoke with former Liverpool employees to find out what was going wrong at Anfield. There’s no sign of Kroenke being interested in understanding where mistakes were made on the sporting side. They are focused on the bottom line and increasing value in the club through the finances, not football.

They aren’t shysters like Gillett and Hicks but KSE is worse; parasitic, settling for mediocrity and uninterested in sporting success. If we win in Baku, it will be in spite of the KSE’s ownership of Arsenal, not because of it.

‘til Tomorrow.

21 thoughts on “UEFA Taking The Mkhi & Weak Ownership

  1. Thanks for the post Yogi. Glad you are back

    I am not happy about Stan as our owner. However, the idea that he has not given the football people money to spend is not accurate. Last season we bought 2 relatively high priced strikers and he did not Arsene and Ivan from making Mesut Ozil the highest paid non goal scoring player in the history of world and sanctioned the trade for mkhitaryan even though he was on a huge wage relative to his on pitch contributions. Last summer we bought Torreira, Leno, Sokratis and Guendouzi He never really stopped Arsene from spending money and he did not step in when Arsene and Ivan were running the wage budget out of control. I agree that $40M is not enough to do all of the rebuilding but I do believe that he will allow our football people to spend money if we make some tough decisions and sell a few players. Selling has been a huge part of the formula that got Liverpool where they are and we need to be able to some make those tough decisions.

  2. Hi, long time reader, not as yet commented.
    It seems to me that Arsenal have a major identity crisis, which has become more and more evident since the move to the Emirates.
    Arsenal fans were practically promised the world, and moving stadium was essential to compete with the world’s best. And we accepted the club’s finances would be tight for the first few years after the move, but there has been a distinct lack of desire or genuine ambition to get back anywhere near the top.
    There have been far too many huge financial mistakes from people who have shown they are not intelligent enough to be anywhere near any Football club, let alone Arsenal.
    Allied with this is the stubborn procrastination, the failure to act and show leadership in removing a Manager who perhaps should have left in 2010.
    Arsenal could have had either Guardiola or Klopp if they had any balls, but they’re obsessed with lining their pockets, which is far more important than footballing success.
    It’s embarrassing that Chelsea were the first London club to win the CL, just as it is that Tottenham are in the CL final on half of the money Arsenal spend.
    I like Unai Emery, his work at Sevilla is exceptional, and he has improved us, but it is absolutely essential that he is given all the tools necessary if Arsenal are to become relevant again.
    Because whilst I accept winning the Europa League would be a significant step forward and get us back to the top table of CL football, as we saw in the latter years under Wenger, Arsenals participation in the competition was pointless.
    Under the right circumstances, I believe Emery is capable of winning the CL, so the spotlight needs to shine brightly on the Arsenal hierarchy to tell us what sort of club Arsenal are.
    Are they play-safe cowards, with the handbrake constantly on, or are they ambitious dreamers, who want to share a magical journey with their passionate, global supporters?

  3. Bill,

    Exactly Bill exactly! Bitching about the owners when things go wrong amounts to excusing failure. The evidence suggests otherwise.

  4. Pochettino has been at Spurs 5 years, Daniel Levy has been there 16. The idea you can “fix” a club in a year is hopelessly optimistic. If you have enough money you can buy decent players but that isn’t the same as creating a team, Manchester United have shown that. Nor does it address whatever problems you have with the structure of the club. Its obviously difficult to predict what will happen when no one seems to know exactly what Kroenke wants from the club.

  5. “Its obviously difficult to predict what will happen when no one seems to know exactly what Kroenke wants from the club”

    It is very clear what Kroenke wants. He wants the Club in the PL earning him the millions he gets as a result. Full stop. He does not care for trophies or success, just keep the Club as an asset, balancing the book.

  6. Just 2 home wins in the last weeks, and definitely a win against Brighton would ave pushed Spurs down. Emery is not the coach the club needs unless he wins at Baku, and Raul is the wrong man. Kroenke is satisfied with the club in the PL, and that is all he wants. It is very clear.

  7. Anthony Ikpo

    Make no mistake I am not a fan of Stan Kroenke. I fully believe the single biggest reason we are in the place we are now is because he allowed Arsene to maintain complete control of all aspects of the club for about 8 years too long and we should have moved on from arsene 3-5 years ago when it was clear things were going sideways and growing stale. He should have started to rebuild our front office brain trust and diversifying our clubs front office brain trust early in this decade. No one other then stan can take the blame for that. I also believe Stan should recognize that we are stuck in neutral right now and club needs a cash infusion and a major rebuild of this squad that arsene mismanaged and he should accept that we may need to spend a lot more then he is comfortable with for a couple of seasons while we rebuild.

    All of that said, the idea that Stan has completely starved the club of spending money and would not let us use the money if we sold a couple players is off target. Our football people have made a lot of poor decisions with the money they have spent and done a miserable job of managing the wage budget and contract situations such as ramsey, wishere and Sánchez. We are extremely lucky ox forced our hand or we probably would not have sold him and we would still be waiting for him to become the next great thing. The $35M we got for Ox was part of the money we used to bring in Pea and Lacazette. Those are the sort of tough decisions our football people need to make.

    I hope that all makes sense

  8. The “millions” will only accrue to Kroenke when he sells his shares. The trouble is he can afford to wait. In the meantime, it is said that he takes 2 or 3 million a year from the Arsenal coffers as “admin expenses”.

  9. As far is Unai Emery is concerned, the jury is still out on whether he is the right man for what’s needed. That works both ways, by the way. I believe he has had a decent first season at Arsenal, especially considering a rot had set in and had been allowed to grow.
    That he was the first new manager in 22 years would have been sufficient challenge but he has had to contend with under-performing players, ridiculous salaries, low morale, egregious contract handling and, it seems, little money for new players.
    Surely, only the second coming of Herbert Chapman could have provided the season that many were expecting/demanding of a new manager.
    Despite this, strangely, Arsene Wenger seems well in the past these days.
    Next season, Unai Emery will come under much closer scrutiny; the job will be tough but not as much as the season past has been. If it comes on the heels of a EL championship the task will have been made that much less arduous.

  10. Has Emery managed players well, and got most out of his players? The answer should be : NO. All he had to achieve was one more away win or win at home against Brighton, which would have seen the club in top4. As for the first half of the season and the team doing well, that has been the story under Wenger during the last few years. Indeed, the team getting very wobbly during every second season, has been the folklore here in Highbury!
    Yes, Wenger’s recruitment and his management reduced the team into quivering Jelly in fixtures. But surely, given one win in the last home game against Brighton, sitting just above the drop zone, was down to bad tactics. Now with the Spanish duo: Raul and Emery managing the football side of things and Kroenke not interested in wins , but keeping the club in the PL, many of us who go to home and away games, do not see the club progressing forward, unless Emery wins the Europa final.

  11. To be fair to Emery , he should have at least another season before real scrutiny , although there’s little chance he’ll get that if we struggle next term.

    I think he’s done OK without pulling up any trees. He’s keep us playing attractive attacking football but been unable to stem the flow of goals against….& that is the real key for him moving forward.

    It’s no doubt going to be crucial for the club to do good business incoming and outgoing this summer. We need a couple of (cheap) quality defenders , a wide player with an engine & pace & probably a destructive defensive midfielder too. Leaving should be the obvious (Mustafi , Elneny, Lichsteiner,Jenkinson) plus Ozil if possible (sorry C !)

  12. Bad management doesnt start at regional level or as in our case at coaching. It starts at top level with CEO, board and owners.

    We have had a non functioning board for years as Kroenke had all the Powers and effectively controlled the board through ownership (read Usmanov). The major owners lack of interest in fotball in particular and sports in general have been seeped through the organisation.

    We´re not a sporting entitiy with purpose of winning but a large concern with an overriding goal over being a profitable business with a large real estate holding.

    Its bloody depressing and I very much will applaud the day I see Kroenke out of our club.

  13. If UE can’t integrate Ozil perhaps we can swap for Bale as we need a winger.
    Real can pay his tax and we’re good to go!

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