The magnificent all round performance of the club on Cup Final day has, perhaps not for the first time in recent years, brought the administration yet another reprieve from the crosshairs. It cannot be taken as an opportunity to sweep, what has been for the most part – a messy 2017, under the carpet and allow for the din to die away without taking action to ensure the current predictable cycle comes to a well overdue end.
Since the Cup celebrations came to an end we have had the announcement of a 2 year extension for Arsene. Matty and I spoke of this on our recent pod and the fact of the matter is now that this issue has been answered and shown to be an area of the club the board is unwilling to change, we have to assume that other areas of the clubs policy will adapt. You may have also noticed the apprehension in our voices during this part of the conversation and with good reason.
We have had several chances to make adjustments to the way we operate to minimise the risk of exposing ourselves to the kind of issues we experience over and over. With all our opportunity and resources available to us, we have yet to see any sign of the club willing to adapt its strategy in order to find its way to the pinnacle again. If we are to believe that we truly are able to compete for top honours, attract the best players and be the club we so desperately try to convince ourselves we can be then we will need to see that ambition in action this pre-season. When it’s all said and done, there’s more often said than done and that’s the most frustrating thing for an Arsenal fan to bear.
Make no mistake, this is a club at a crossroads. The major key players who have yet to sign are as big an indicator of our overall mentality as anything you’ve seen on the field. From the point of view of the board, it would be a very hard pill to make us swallow were they not able to negotiate the extensions for Messrs Ozil, Sanchez and to a lesser extent Chamberlain. Having made a statement of intent by investing big money into obtaining the former two names, it would be as big a statement to the football world if we were then unable to renew each of their contracts at the first time to the negotiating table. As key members of the squad, these are the kinds of players we should be building around, not having to replace.
There has been a bit of early Summer speculation in regards to potential signings, namely Monaco wonderkid – Kylian Mbappe. A player who, coincidently, Wenger was in negotiations with this time last year and could have signed for next to nothing. The youngster was unwilling and in the subsequent 12 months we have seen him tear up the Champions league and find the net with devastating effect in Ligue 1, playing a large part in a great run to the French title for a Monaco team which netted 107 times. The 18-year-old now commands in excess of £100 million with Monaco already apparently rejecting offers from Arsenal among others. Whether we are genuinely in the race for the French youngster or just publicly bidding at prices we know won’t get us anywhere but excites the fans at the possibility of the club making the chase are two entirely plausible questions. Let’s wait and see where we stand in 6 weeks.
You may have read last night that, on top of the extending of Wenger’s tenure, there will be no changes to the senior coaching staff during the off-season. All current contracts have been offered an extension after speculation that there may have been board pressure to bring some fresh faces and fresh ideas into the fold, following on from the disappointment of another poor campaign.
I’m all for stability and due process when it comes to staff recruitment, but I am also one who believes friction creates growth within clubs. To be surrounded by familiar faces and voices that bring the same ideas again and again without new perspective leads more often than not to complacency and drop in motivation. If we weren’t willing to bring a new manager into the frame just yet, then I would have been pretty keen on seeing a shuffling of the deck in the back room. Perhaps a slight restructuring which allows for 1 or 2 new people to bring their ideas in to assist the football department in staying on the cutting edge while also giving us the opportunity to minimise the impact felt when the inevitable departure of Arsene occurs. Wenger himself dismissed the notion of brining in a “Director of Football” and while that feels a bit archaic to reject the idea outright as pure spiffle, there may be ways around this to future proof ourselves and have a candidate already bedded in come time to step into that role as we more commonly know it. A technical director, if you will, with the view to becoming Director of Football along the line….
As it stands there have been no changes to the staff behind the scenes and, barring the arrival of Sead Kolasinac, no changes to the playing group.
We now look to the transfer window for our only other major source of change. We know that something has to change if we are to knock ourselves back into the spotlight. So far I can’t say I’ve been filled with confidence that we will finally change tact and pull out all the stops we impose on ourselves year after year. We’ve talked a big game for long enough, it’s time to start fulfilling some of the prophecy.
Over to you Arsenal.
We’ll be back in the very near future with more news from the Arsenal as well as a fresh Podcast as we prepare for the Preseason Tour in Sydney.
In the meantime, check out our latest episode right here; (don’t forget to subscribe/comment/share)