The international break proved useful for something, I suppose, with the decorating well in-hand. For Arsenal, it is providing little respite. Unai Emery remains as unpopular as ever while Raul is now coming into the spotlight.
Sir Chipboard Keswick decided the board knew nothing about football and wanted someone to teach them; someone who knows the club. David O’Leary is that man and appeared to be on course for a seat at the gilded table.
Does Keswick sense the days of wine and roses are numbered? That Enos and Junior might be questioning what purpose the Bufton-Tuftons and Ken Friar serve? O’Leary’s appointment would, to some extent, empower the questioning of Raul and Edu over decisions taken.
It was apparent this summer that Raul has a direct line to Enos and Junior and easily bypasses the directors. Sir Chipboard isn’t having any of that. Sanllehi isn’t keen on the idea of greater scrutiny so a quick chat with the moneymen killed the idea for now.
And let’s face it, after fifteen years of shenanigans at Barcelona, quashing Sir Chipboard’s ambition is child’s play.
It is interesting, however, that the board essentially feels powerless and wants someone to advise. The spirit of self-preservation runs strongly through them, as does an apparent desire to be seen as ‘custodians’ for the club. That role became vacated when KSE took over 100% of the ownership.
There is something almost comedic in the timing. For a decade, we clamoured for former players to be brought on board. Now, at a time when the directors are at their weakest and most powerless, they do exactly that. Not when it is useful but when they are useless.
It seems so typically Arsenal, to be honest.
Power, Corruption & Lies
And much needed. Nobody is above scrutiny and while Raul may be in charge of the footballing side, does he answer to anyone? Enos and Junior don’t invest themselves in Arsenal in a hands-on way. It’s very much delegation to the management as it should be.
However, if they are managing all their investments, Arsenal are just one of the portfolio. Big and mediocre. What is Raul doing to turn that around? How is he helping the head coach who is so obviously out of his depth?
As I wrote recently, Emery is going to get something of a bounce in the coming weeks. The fixtures fall kindly and while there are potential banana skins, we ought to come through with a good points total. That’s what you’d think in normal circumstances but these circumstances are far from normal.
Do the board want to take the decision to fire Emery if they feel necessary? They shouldn’t need O’Leary to take the decision but it gives it a hint of credibility if Spider is involved. Not so much if he then nominates himself for head coach as Mark Bowen did at Reading…
Anything which makes the board better informed is to be welcomed, I suppose, but it is hard to see how this leaves them any less neutered or any more influential?
Arsenal’s corporate governance both in a business and sporting sense has long left plenty to be desired. The appointment of a former player is to welcomed but without a clear purpose or any sense of power, seems purposeless.
With the players away on international duty, candid media interviews are commonplace. Former skipper Granit Xhaka’s had his say, now Alexandre Lacazette has his. Except it was to the club website because he isn’t part of the France squad.
Nonetheless, he admitted we’re not very good at the moment. “Obviously we’re not at the top of our game at the moment,” he declared with an admirable understatement. However, he feels that “we remain leaders in the Europa League, we’re still in the running in the championship.”
I’m fairly sure he was misquoted for the latter. I am certain he said, “We’re still in the running for finishing the season in the Championship.” It must be so irritating for him to be so badly misquoted by the in-house media team.
There’s no reason to expect him to do anything other than toe the company line. It is interesting that he doesn’t know whether or not the club is back Emery.
“The group definitely supports the coach and I’m sure the club does as well,” definitely points to neither Raul or Edu sticking their heads around the dressing room door to let the players know that Emery has their backing.
Is this important? If results don’t improve, it is significant, indicative that Emery no longer holds Raul’s confidence nor that of Enos and Junior for that matter.
That, however, seems some way off and the mediocrity will continue.