For all of Wenger’s flaws, he did an amazing job at shielding how seemingly incompetent the board has been since the departure of David Dein and his ilk. He turned himself into the lightning rod for criticism and shifted it away from how — up until now — Ivan Gazidis could talk the talk but never walk the walk. Given very little funds and assistance to running the footballing side of things — whether that’s due to Wenger not seeing the previous regime as his equals or being power-hungry — Wenger ran the club as best as he could.
However, after the departure of who is undoubtedly the most successful manager of Arsenal’s history, Gazidis was all of a sudden given all of the power that was previously out of his reach. In the waning hours of Wenger’s reign, Gazidis moved quickly to create a footballing team capable of filling the void left by Arsene. He brought in Sven Mislintat, who was the chief scout at Borussia Dortmund — notable for signing high potential talents, such as Kagawa, Hummels, and Lewandowski — and Raul Sanllehi, famous for signing players that Barcelona targeted (something that could’ve been useful given Arsenal’s own transfer failures). These gentlemen banding together to create an all-conquering triumvirate of power to win Champions League titles five times in a row. Ah, dreaming is free.
Assuming there are no more hiccups along the managerial hiring process, the triumvirate’s first decision post Wenger is to hire Unai Emery as the new manager. After all the rumors of Mikel Arteta, completing a drastic 180 may be unfair but a safer, wiser decision. In all certainty, Gazidis must have known that his job was on the line if he hired Arteta as he has literally never managed a game in his entire life. I am surprised about how Emery’s potential appointment has been met with mostly disappointment. On the one hand we have an assistant manager versus a manager who has a decade of experience, plenty of trophies in his cabinet, and youthful enough to have innovative methods that speak to his players. Certainly, I am far from being Ivan’s biggest fan, but I have to admit myself that out of the available options, Emery is a good choice.
Despite my reservations about Gazidis, I can’t help but feel excitement about the new Arsenal backroom. It’s dangerous to let yourself believe I know, it only makes the inevitable sacking of Emery halfway through the season as the threat of relegation looms large. In any case, the appointments of Sven and Raul are proven qualities in the world of football, and surrounding himself with more “football” men and less people focused solely on the financial aspect of the club. It seems in the current set-up, Sven will focus on signing these prodigious talents who, with proper coaching, will turn into superstars, or at the very least, cash cows. In fact, Mavropanos was his suggestion and hopefully he benches Mustafi next season so we don’t have to see so many reckless, ill-advised slide tackles. As for Raul, I think he will deal with negotiations, and hopefully he will be an improvement over Dick Law. But let’s face it, a mute hedgehog would be better at negotiating than Dick.
After Wenger’s departure, it’s highly unlikely that Arsenal will have such a long serving manager, so to offset the loss in power and experience, Arsenal has transitioned into a more continental approach, with a highly influential boardroom and more interchangeable coaches. The term coach is key here, as Emery or whoever else in the future, will focus more on the tactics and game plan rather than commercial deals and player scouting. It doesn’t get any easier for the new man because there’s going to be even more pressure placed on results given that he doesn’t have all this extra responsibility on his shoulders. Hopefully this board proves to be competent, because as Arsenal fans I feel it’s all we can really hope for without setting unrealistic expectations.