Arsenal Decisively Indecisive?

August 3, 2017

Being decisive is usually recognised as recognising a problem, or identifying a need to improve a situation, and arriving at a decision to quickly and effectively act to resolve it.

And in some ways, that has happened, in that defensively we seemed to be all at sea last season, until realising that the absence of the wise old head of Per Mert and the continuing frustrating injuries affecting Kozzer, AW decided to change to a three at the back, primarily until the injured CBs returned to the roster the following season at which time he would review which formation fitted the team the best. And undoubtedly the change in formation worked very well.

The ‘3 at the back’ was self-evidently caused by the lack of resources in defence because in addition to the loss of Per and Kozzer, Chambers had been loaned out, Gabriel had shot himself in the foot, or something, and Holding was still learning his trade and making a good fist of it, but to cap it all there were injury problems in the backs as well.

So, good decisive reactions helped us to almost qualify for the CL, except for possibly one of the more inept performances seen in many a year, when we lost to a poor Crystal Palace team who every pundit expected us to put to the sword. The three points conceded there would have given us 4th place, instead of just missing out.

It was clear in a very confusing time, when even the Chief Executive Gazidis said it was a catalyst for a change meaning that there had to be a restructuring of the team personnel and the management, presumably in the close season.

Frustrated fans reacted with a glimmer of hope that a decisive reaction had come at a time when Arsene was indecisively stalling on renewing his contract. Again – action and reaction – yin and yang – decisive and indecisive.

Last summer the club should have reacted decisively to the failure of Özil, Sanchez and Chamberlain to extend their contracts, but instead there was a sense of apathy and indecision throughout the summer 2016 transfer window, and eventually AW announced he was sure contracts would be signed during the season, and anyway there was still 2 years left in which to negotiate. Wishy washy? Selling such important players under 2017 transfer window pressure and attempting to buy top replacements has been predictably difficult.

And what has happened to the reinforcement of the CBs? Kozzer has what is known as a chronic injury that is not going to go away, Per has announced that he will retire soon, and although he has the right mental attitude to play, his physical decline has continued as was clear in the pre-season and he is unlikely to be able to play regularly – and both are getting older.

To add to that, there is still no sign that Gabriel is likely to recover from his injury any time soon, and with Calum on the ‘to sell’ list, not much attention seems to have been shown in shoring up a key area for the team. Decisive? I think not.

AW explained quite clearly that he did not like other clubs continually asking for Sanchez, Chamberlain and Özil, and ignoring his decisive message that they were not for sale.

He went on to declare that Arsenal’s policy was that when we wanted a player we would inquire if that player was available for sale, but, if told they were not for sale, then the club would respect that and walk away.

But hold you hard. How does that decisive statement square up with the rumoured bids for Lemar when it seems Arsenal have been told he is not for sale, and yet we appear to have been going back with increased offers in trying to acquire him. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer there then.

It beggars belief that Arsenal will reject the prospect of possibly making £150m in sale proceeds for selling the above-named trio this summer, and simply lose all that money next summer, as they walk away on ‘frees’.

Either the manager will decide late on in this window that he will sell after all, and probably find it difficult, if not impossible, to buy replacements at short notice, or we will be without 3 key players next summer, and to make matters worse – also without that £150m needed to buy the equivalent replacements.

Does anyone feel a little tremor of indecision creeping into the Arsenal thought processes – especially from Kroenke, the man whose money it is?

Me too.

Written by Zee

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Is Kroenke killing Arsenal?

March 2, 2017

We did well under the stewardship of the Hill-Woods. Even better under the ownership of  Dein and Fizman but Silent Stan? Has he been a hindrance or a help?

I was one who rallied against Usamov, I felt he would take us in the Chelsea route – no history, no tradition, just a money club, but in hindsight I may have been wrong – if we are to compete we have to do so with financial muscle, and with Stan at the helm this is unlikely.

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Kroenke is a businessman not a football fan. He has no allegiance to Arsenal and my guess is that he never will, we are just another of his sporting franchises. And what an investment Arsenal are, the share price has almost doubled since he bought in! Does Stan care if we win trophies? Probably, as it increases AFC’s value but judging by the success of his other franchises he prioritises profit over glory.

Why am I writing this? Because I was thinking about Pogba. We needed a player like him but we bought Pogba Light, Xhaka, who cost €60m less. And this is significant because if Arsenal are to win the title again there needs to be massive investment. Will Silent Stan sanction a €100m transfer? Of course not, he hasn’t elsewhere and he won’t at Arsenal.

Doing things the Arsenal Way is all well and good when we are winning but it seems less significant when we see Spurs above us in the table.

To improve we have to keep our best players and improve the squad. Will Kroenke buy the players to augment Ozil & Sanchez or will they leave to play in better teams? I think you know the answer.

As Terry MHT knows – never trust a man with a wig


Money Can’t Buy You Love (or Silverware)

March 7, 2016

Following our recent disappointments the blogs have been awash with requests for Arsenal to spend money – big money, in summer. Apparently, it was our lack of spending in 2015 that has led to our current situation.

Some blame Kroenke for not investing into the team; calling for him to sell his shares to Jabba the Hut who will buy Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Pogba etc etc and thereby bring back the glory days.

Perhaps, but let’s look elsewhere to see if this is true.

I will start in Spain and at the second biggest club in world football, Real Madrid. Note I wrote second. RM spend on a massive scale, they have the two most expensive players in history and have spent hundreds of millions on their squad.

RM won what in 2015? I will tell you … nothing. Zip. De Nada. Rien.

Let’s come closer to home and look at the Premier League.

Nett biggest spenders … MC, MU, Chavs, L’pool. How are these 4 clubs faring this season? As of today, they are all behind the mighty Gunners.

Arsenal have spent €250m less than MU,CFC and MC over the last 5 seasons and €140m less than Liverpool.

To be fair, MC and CFC have won stuff but MU and L’pool, despite huge investment haven’t and are unlikely to in the near future. For them money has not been able to buy silverware.

Mr Wenger has often talked about financial doping  and it’s negative effect. Just look at France and Italy. Their leagues are ruined by the massive spending power of the two main clubs, PSG and Juventus.

I am definitely not saying that Arsenal do not need to buy players, we clearly do but let’s be realistic – throwing money at the team is only part of the project to take us to success.

In my opinion some tweaking, a couple of quality signings and good fortune with injuries will see us dominate the PL for many years top come.

Written by Big Raddy

 


Kroenke and Wenger Out.

March 4, 2016

I have just read that Guardian article that basically says that Swansea exploited the frustration of the crowd and of course there is a picture of the little home made banner that read Kroenke and Wenger out.

wenger out

I don’t believe that the frustration of the crowd played any part of our loss whatsoever and one little banner does not represent the majority at all.

For me it was not frustration that Swansea exploited it was expectation. It is expected that Arsenal should win the league and has been that way for some time, this is the burden that Arsenal have been having trouble with which has lead to them, for example, rushing simple passes, leading to loss of possession which of course levels the playing field against lesser lights such as Swansea. By contrast an unburdened Arsenal starting eleven would always find their man with such passes and nine times out of ten go on to win the game.

Tottenham and Leicester have been able to avoid the burden of expectation for longer than they should have been allowed but look what happened the first time that it really became apparent that Tottenham could go top and push on to win the league, I never thought that I would find a Donald Trump comment apt but here we are — Chokers. (Just in case the use of the name Tottenham attract some of the knuckle draggers I will say it for you — Pots and Kettles)

To a similar extent the same thing happened to Leicester against West Brom. Claudio Ranieri has been doing a fine job of taking the pressure of winning the title off of them but it was creeping in as they started to find that doing the things they have been doing effortlessly all season started to get just a bit more difficult in their mid week clash. Man City have been suffering from the burden of exploitation for even longer than we have and by the looks of their thumping from Liverpool they still are doing so.

bergenUnfortunately, I do not share Rocky’s confidence as to the out come of Saturday’s North London Derby as I feel that Tottenham will be able to play without pressure again where as we will be playing with the equivalent expectation of a 50 kilo army bergen on our backs.

It goes without saying that I hope I am wrong.

COYRRG

Written by LB


Is Governance the Problem at Arsenal?

November 19, 2015

Who owns Arsenal and how is it governed? Although many fans would answer that Arsenal belongs to us, the truth is that we fans are just consumers of goods and services from the club we love. We are very important to the club but this gives us no element of ownership. Good governance would normally include ensuring that decision making bodies are representative, decisions are transparent and both bodies and decisions are accountable. It is for you to judge how well Arsenal does in these terms.

Firstly actual ownership of Arsenal is the prerogative of shareholders as a whole. Currently this means that 66% are owned by a company called Kroenke Sports and Entertainments (KSE) which is wholly owned by Stan Kroenke a US billionaire who owns a number of sporting clubs and franchises mostly in the US. 30% is owned by a company called Red & White Holdings (RWH) which is jointly owned by Usmanov and Moshiri. The remaining paltry 4% is owned by a constantly decreasing number of older fans and their families.

The current situation emerged from a volatile and active Board disagreement on the new stadium. This led to a lock-down on share disposal from the Board initially and ultimately on the death of Danny Fiszman to the sale of his shares to Stan Kroenke who then exceeded 30% shareholding and had to make a formal bid to all other shareholders. This had been pre-agreed with all Board members and other major shareholders. The primary effect was to make Stan Kroenke effective sole owner of Arsenal and as a secondary effect put David Dein who had recently been removed from the Board completely into the wilderness. As a consequence he sold his shares to and briefly led RWH who garnered at that point just under 30% of the remaining shares.  This RWH share position is important because if Kroenke were to obtain a further 9% support then he could change Arsenal to a private company and this could involve all sorts of shenanigans as any Man U supporter will tell you in the light of the Glaziers following exactly this process. So Usmanov currently has an impregnable blocking vote on that.

There is one other aspect of share ownership that must be covered before we move on. Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) who have as their members a large portion of the small independent share holders, sought to agree with Kroenke at the point of his bid and Ivan Gazidis as CEO that they would set up a Fanshare scheme to enable ordinary fans to have an opportunity to buy shares and so participate in ownership of the club. It is noteworthy that the nearly half a billion £ Kroenke has paid for his shares has not given a penny into Arsenal coffers- only new shares being issued would do this. In spite of intensive effort and pressure the issue of new shares was never agreed by Kroenke and the Fanshare scheme is going through the long, sad and arduous process of being wound up. So much for real attempts at involving fans meaningfully.

Day to day running of the club is of course the responsibility of the Board which is elected at the AGM by the shareholders (ie Stan Kroenke). The Arsenal board is currently very small, comprising only 6 persons. Two non-executive Directors are Sir Chips Keswick, a banker, and Lord Harris of Peckham a carpet retailer and Philanthropist. Neither are shareholders of any significance. There are two employees namely Ivan Gazidis as CEO and Ken Friar a very long standing employee of the club. Finally there are Stan and his son Josh Kroenke who attend with that 66% majority in their bag. The board meets monthly and all are wined and dined well at each match including away matches with luxury travel with the first team. No mean sinecure. The only major earners on the board are the two employees. Both Kroenkes and Sir Chips, who is chairman, draw a standard fee of £25k although Lord Harris donates his to charities. Neither agendas nor minutes are public documents so transparency is almost nil.

Real matters of governance concern would be that the board is in no way representative of the fans. It has no women although they are increasingly present at the stadium. It also should be noted that any skills set analysis would find the board very narrow and inadequate. There is good management and business skills but experience at top playing or coaching level is entirely absent.

When talking of the board the elephant not in the room is of course Arsene Wenger. He probably rightly has avoided siren calls to join but has zealously guarded his right to select and train all footballers on staff. He also expects the primary say in transfers in and out of the club although we have no knowledge as to what parameters may be set by the board eg specifically on total cost or value. Arsene in particular seems willing to let the buck stop with him in these areas.

Perhaps the best way to assess Arsenal governance performance is to consider issues and I have chosen three but you may well have your own and it would be interesting to see your cases and views in comments.

  1. For two years there has been a strong fan reaction to the news that a wholly Kroenke owned company has been paid £3 million each year for unspecified services commissioned and approved in particular by the two non-executive Directors. Now in principle I am not opposed depending on the services given and their true value. There are aspects of marketing and match day experience in which the US is a world leader but the problem is we are not told anything useful and so it is zero marks for transparency. Of course if it is just a means to pay Kroenke and avoid paying the nearly half again to RWH that a dividend on shares would entail then there are entirely new issues emerge.
  2. For several years local Islington Citizens supported by a number of fan groups and Arsenal blogs have been trying to persuade Arsenal to adopt the London Living Wage for it’s own staff and when the opportunity arises for external contract staff. This is clearly morally right for a company in Arsenal’s financial position and there are strong arguments that it would positively enhance the match day experience. And all at less cost than the Kroenke company fees. But in spite of being raised at the last three AGMs accountability is so poor that the policy still awaits a final board sign-off. Perhaps Stan Kroenke whose other half is not only better but also richer being a Walmart inheritor, where staff pay is notorious, has an undesirable influence here
  3. Arsenal are very rightly proud of the work they do as Arsenal in the Community. But it is extremely difficult to find a way of suggesting innovation. The FA has got itself into all sorts of foolish financial difficulty but there is a singular clear and pressing difficulty in developing youth and grass roots football. Could not Arsenal under the auspices of Arsenal in the Community set aside £5-£10millions to train and employ 25-50 new fully qualified coaches which could be offered to local schools and local cubs to build a new approach with the ‘Arsenal way’.

I have to say that for me the questions and principles that were posed in the opening paragraph are sadly evidenced that Governance at Arsenal is a long way from good enough and we as fans have to try to bring all the pressure we can to get improvements.

Vintage Gooner


Usmanov wants answers at the AGM

October 14, 2015

It’s the day of the Arsenal Annual General Meeting.. The day when shareholders and other interested parties get to ask questions of the owner, board of directors and manager.  Whether any of those questions is rewarded with a full and frank answer is open to doubt.

It was reported in the press yesterday that Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s second largest shareholder, has written to Stan Kroenke seeking a detailed explanation why, for the second year running, Arsenal have paid a sum of £3 million to Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.  According to Arsenal Chairman Sir Chips Keswick last year’s payment was for “the wide range of services” provided by KSE.

Another item to be brought up is a request for an independent review of the club’s transfer strategy following the failure to sign any out-field players during the last transfer window.

There will, no doubt be questions asked about the size of the club’s wage bill, how much money there is in the transfer kitty and whether the price of match day tickets is likely to be reduced in view of the greatly enlarged sums pouring into the Club’s coffers from both television deals and sponsorship.

I’m sure AAers will have other questions that they would like to put forward,  Why not list them in your comments below.  You never know someone attending the AGM may just read them and may just put one to the hierarchy.

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Jabba Says Arsene Wasted His Best Years – Do You Agree?

August 6, 2015

The ever-charming Alisher Usmanov has been speaking again.

In between appearing at Comicon as the world’s best Jabba the Hutt impersonator, Usmanov is also a major shareholder at Arsenal – albeit one who has been squeezed out of day-to-day involvement in the club.

His pronouncements are infrequent but usually serve to advance his agenda: namely to suggest that he would be a better majority owner of the club than Mr Kroenke.

This week he is reported as saying: “Arsene Wenger had a very, very difficult position when the club shareholders did not want to put their money to construct the new stadium. Because of this he lost five years – maybe the best of his career – without a trophy. In reality ten years.”

My first reaction was anger: from a certain perspective, those years of austerity can be viewed not as lost years, but as Arsene’s BEST years.

Sure, there were no trophies, but during those years he arguably performed his greatest miracles: he kept us in the Champions League positions year after year while spending less than net zero and while watching his best players waltz out of the door at the end of every season.

When people compare Wenger and Mourinho I always look at it this way: could Arsene have won Premiership titles with the squad that was bought for Jose – at eye-watering expense – at Chelsea from 2004 onwards? The answer is self-evidently “yes.”

Now flip it on its head: could Jose Mourinho have kept a team in the top four of the Premier League for eight years with the resources that Arsene had to work with in the period after we moved to The Emirates? The answer is again self-evident and this time it is “no.” In fact, “no, no and thrice no. Not a cat in hell’s chance.”

Hence my reaction to Jabba’s words. They are an insult to a great manager – and to our club and to all the people who kept supporting Arsenal during those leaner years in the hope of eventually seeing a brighter tomorrow.

But, on reflection, I realised that Jabba is also implying that, had he been the boss man, he would have dipped into his own pocket to build the stadium and would have kept the cash flowing for buying new superstars and retaining our existing ones.

Would that have been such a bad thing?

We could have avoided all those years of watching other teams lord it over us, of fans turning against fans, of vitriol poured over our greatest ever manager.

It does make you think…

On balance I’ll stick with my original instincts: I’m glad we didn’t become another sugar daddy club; I’m glad we are an institution that “pays its way” honestly and doesn’t engage in financial doping.

Somehow it feels right – it feels like the Arsenal way.

And how much more satisfying are the trophies when we have all been through a barren and frustrating period?

But that’s just me. What do you think?

RockyLives