Ivan Gazidis and the ‘catalyst for change’

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After a long search which saw his face plastered on the side of milk cartons, someone found Ivan Gazidis.

The Arsenal chief executive, who has been nowhere to be seen during one of the most turbulent periods in the club’s recent history, met fans at a ‘Fans Forum’ meeting on Sunday.

This is a pre-arranged, scheduled meeting between representatives of fans groups and club officials. Gazidis was present and engaged in what was referred to as ‘Largely defensive corporate stuff’, when pressed about key issues at the moment, including the future of Arsene Wenger.

However he insisted that the decision about the manager’s future would be ‘mutual’ and has not been made yet, suggesting that the contract widely reported to be ready to sign has not yet been offered to Wenger [Can I get a ‘yeah right’?!].

Gazidis also said that this season, and the failings we’ve seen, could be seen as a ‘catalyst for change’, although he insisted that this could include Wenger who has, according to a report in the Telegraph, promised to ‘reinvent’ himself over the course of a new deal.

The chief-executive also said that there would be a major review into the way the club is run. At the moment there are rumours swirling about that former players could be welcomed back into the coaching set-up.

Currently the contracts of the coaching staff are tied to that of Wenger – ie, they expire at the same time as his – so if Wenger was to extend his stay, the club would be able to simply not renew certain contracts, rather than having to go through the difficult process of firing people.

Goalkeeping coach, and the scouting system are all areas that could be improved, and if certain names being linked are true, the position of Steve Bould as assistant manager could be under scrutiny.

Of course it remains to be seen how much of this will happen, how quickly it will happen, and what results allow to happen over the final 10 games.

Arsenal currently sit 7 points from the top four, and with games against Man Utd, Sp*rs and Everton still to come, it’s going to take a near flawless end to the season to give us any chance of achieving what Wenger and Gazidis have described as the ‘minimum’ for the club.

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69 Comments on "Ivan Gazidis and the ‘catalyst for change’"

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David Carlisle

How does that old saying go? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks; unless that old dog reinvents himself, relinquishes some of his doggy powers and brings in a Director of Dogball.

GoonerJust

At the moment, I don’t think Gazidiz has any succession plan for Wenger. That’s why he will insist to sign Wenger for at least 2 more year to prepare for life without Wenger

Bob\'s Mexican Cousin
Bob\'s Mexican Cousin

Doesn’t seem like he has any plans beyond his summer holidays.

Masterman

What the freak is a “succession plan” anyway, if we declare we want a new manager I am sure there will be no shortage of takers. Why the heck does it take more than 2 months to prepare for life without Wenger? Right now even getting Bould as caretaker manager is probably an upgrade from Wenger, seems to me that Bould’s influence in the club has been decreasing and with it the defensive improvements that came with him has been disappearing.

Faisal Narrage

All part of the sales ploy.
I think what it’s clear now is that the board have made no plans for a life without Wenger. They are so enamoured to him that any possible plans simply have to involve him, and the very idea that one day he could not be the right man for the job terrifies them.

As for all the talk of re-invention? LOL. Does anyone possibly see that a man who has wielded so much control for almost 20 years is just going to relinquish it so happily, particularly his coaching team he has barely changed in his 2 decade tenure?

Q3 Technique

The narrative that Wenger is some sort of control freak is just that, a narrative, one frequently pushed by those with no link to the club ( e.g Chris Sutton most recently).

Wenger and Arsenal have evolved over time. Wenger has very limited influence over youth team affairs, e.g. he’s not involved with youth player purchases. Another example is that control of contractual affairs has been devolved to Dick Law who performs many tasks associated with a Director of Football.

While you could argue that Arsenal have not evolved enough, I dont think its possible to argue that its Wenger’s fault. He’s not a dictator. He’s more likely to be a man filling a variety of roles/holes as best he can. I think its more likely that the holes exist due the incompetence of the chairman, owner, and CEO.

This increasing tendency to blame everything on Wenger is simplistic and reactionary nonesense. Its like only blaming the train driver when you cant get a seat during the morning commute instead of blamming the managers and owners of the train company….

Goonie

Sadly, this is the problem with the world. People think they can reduce complex problems to a few factors.

PhoeniX

Exactly. How do you think people voted for Brexit and Trump?

Atom

What seems clear is that we have great difficulty in the transfer market and regarding letting so many first team contracts run down to the last year – particularly compared to other major clubs who seem to re-up stars much earlier to avoid this exact situation we find with roughly 1/3 of the entire first team squad. That might be that Dick Law simply is not competent and is allowing these contracts to run down and has difficulty negotiating transfers (look at how many of the current generation of young French players Wenger has unsuccessfully tried to sign the past few years) http://www.espnfc.us/club/arsenal/359/blog/post/3091824/arsene-wenger-arsenal-missing-out-on-latest-generation-of-french-stars

Or it might be that Wenger controls the transfers and contracts while Law does the actual negotiating under his orders. Either way it’s pretty clear that something needs to change in that either Wenger needs to relinquish control if he’s the one holding up the contracts, transfers etc or Dick Law needs to be replaced. We did not have these types of issues under Dein – who was more of an equal to Wenger vs. Law who appears to be an employee. There’s something to be said about having 2 “equals” who can push back on each other making a process stronger vs. from at least the outside what appears to simply be Wenger and employees.

donald\'s trump

Gotta get the re-up

Where’s wallace string, where’s wallace?

Got dem WMDs

Nanny Ogg

But look at how many players come out and say ‘Yeah, I signed because Wenger called and talked to me’ and how many say ‘Yeah so Wenger called personally and I told him to sod off’ but maybe a bit more more politely. You hear a lot of the former, none of the latter. Don’t tell me that they wouldn’t say it or broadcast it, diplomacy of that sort simply doesn’t matter with the overgrown-baby-millionaires on Twitter who, if they weren’t so brilliant at kicking that ball, wouldn’t even be hired to flip burgers with that attitude. Flipping burgers for hours needs a more even temperament than that. And less self-importance. But anyway.

Seems to me that Wenger is only personally involved in transfers occasionally, and when he is, it works out. As for the rest of who actually does what, politicians’ motivations are more transparent than the workings of our beleaguered club. Maybe players don’t sign their second contracts and extensions because they finally figure out that Wenger doesn’t have the control they think he does, in part.

Who knows. But it seems obvious that there will be a transition period when Wenger leaves. Maybe it would be better to have a strong character come in and manage with Wenger behind the scenes or around in some other capacity – around to help them figure out just how the hell any of it works, because who earth actually knows?

Atom

Wenger can still drive the process without actually calling the players etc. What we don’t know is if Wenger gives Law a valuation and Law simply negotiates the actual details – timing of payments etc or if Wenger just says I want to sign this player, figure it out. It seems much more likely that Wenger just gives Law the valuation framework.

The real issue with the piecemeal replacing Wenger is it’s going to be difficult to bring in a real sporting director – someone that scouts & signs players (with the manager’s input) & decides on contracts as long as Wenger is around (assuming Wenger currently drives that process). It won’t be an attractive job as anyone qualified won’t relish a power battle with Wenger around and the current leadership vacuum above him. That almost necessitates bringing in someone without a lot of experience and hoping he learns on the job.

clins

thats true . the best sporting directors right now would want nothing more than absolute control , be it finance , transfers etc . it would be hard to find one that will work under wenger

santori

I don’t think anyone will want to work under Wenger’s shadow.

AND one must also take the incoming manager into consideration. He will have to be able to work with the Sporting Director.

I feel someone who has been imbued with Wenger’s experience and knowledge in market like Grimandi may be best placed.

If the sporting director coming in has less independence and is part of the entourage of the new manager, we run the risk of him being used as hostage to the new manager.

Clearly independence is needed but an element of relationship too.

Someone who understand the board and club and has linkage to the strengths of Wenger in market is to me the best bet, not some ex-player who has never managed a club let alone operated in the market.

That would be the simpleton approach some fans tend to be prey toward.

santori

It would be difficult to replace Wenger’s intuition in market.

He has been one of the best in the world buying and selling players.

Atom

That was true a long time ago but not in the recent past. Other clubs such as athletic Madrid, borrusia Dortmund, juventus, Monaco and even Leicester have meaningfully outperformed Arsenal in the transfer market despite having much smaller budgets. Many of our buys have never really full filled their promise (Ramsey, ox , sanogo, etc)

Andy Mack

Atom, The Spanish clubs have an advantage with non-EU players as they can get work permits much more easily than the PL teams. Add to this the weakness of all the leagues except the PL (The number of strong teams rather than quality of the top teams) and you can see that all the club you mention can ‘blood’ new players in a much easier league.
Leicester is the exception but as a mid-lower PL team they could take risks that a top team can’t. They’ve a few great buys but they’ve also had a fair few failures that didn’t get regular 1st team football.
You could have added a few more PL teams to the list like Southampton but again, they can take risks that a top team can’t as they aren’t expected to compete for the league like we are (even though we’ve failed again).

santori

Ozil and Alexis could have easily gone to 6 or 7 other clubs who would have had need for their service and who could have paid more than us.

santori

This is not an uncommon issue.

All clubs face this nowadays.

when you sign a player for a 3 year contract, it really is a two year contract because he will be up for renegotiation a season before.

Its the nature of the market these days.

The player and agent will not want to in general be tied down too much particularly if they feel they will have potentially good resale value 2 to 3 seasons down.

Arsenal has become a bit of a dvelopment /rebuild club.

We have our fair share of players developed from academy but we have over recent seasons also attracted players like Ozil and Alexis who (to their credit) are hungry to improve and feel Wenger (and Arsenal as a platform) can take them there.

Partly it is due to Wenger’s reputation but partly also due to the fact that we are more prepared to give them centre stage than say Madrid or Barca can.

In turn this has had impact on us to some extent as we are on occasion guilty of playing players to develop them over more practical issues for the team.

It’s a bit of both merit and hazard in that respect. We can attract some players (Alexis and Ozil) because of development promise and Wenger but we may also be handicapped to them (Ramsey and Walcott) because of.

Add in Wenger’s idealist approach and you can somewhat understand why we can’t break the glass ceiling.

Jack Watson

At last a person with a reasonable opinion.
Gazidis is the person who should be going.
David Dein has never been replaced. He asked Wenger who he wanted & then negotiiated to get them. It didn’t matter if they were more than Aw’s valuation.
If they were important to the team then Dein got them.

santori

Why should Gazidis go?

He is doing his job which is to grow the club financially.

Monkey Nuts

Shut up Ivan’s Mum

PhoeniX

Uhm… what about Ronaldo? Dein screwed up there.

John C

The “narrative” as you put it that Wenger is a control freak comes from numerous ex players that have played under him and only repeated by the likes of Sutton.

The fact that our own chairman said “If he has a plan we back him, if he doesn’t we keep quiet” tells you all you need to know.

salmok

so wheres their plan than? since they dont like wenger’s…

John C

We’re seeing that no one has a satisfactory plan aren’t we

santori

Wenger Out has no plan other than to replace Wenger at all cost even at expense of unclear future.

It is a simplistic approach at best.

John C

The future’s always unclear and the only thing clear about the clubs current future is that we’re falling further behind others

santori

There is a difference between control freak and someone who can control the entire process of the club who has also been largely responsible for its enormous growth and expansion.

John C

Not one single person is responsible for Arsenal’s growth and it actually has far more to do with technological change than anything anyone at the club is responsible for, so let’s see who we should thank:

First of all we must thank the foresight of the clubs who drove the creation of the Premier league to help exploit footballs massive financial potential back in the early 90’s.

Secondly we must thank Richard Scudamore and the Premier League for extracting so much cash out of Sky and other broadcasters.

Thirdly we must thank tech manufactures for creating iphones and other revolutionary technology that’s changed the way the world communicates with one another.

Fourthly we must thank internet pioneers that have created Facebook, Instagram, and other forms of social media for helping to make the world a smaller place. We must also thank the wordpress community for enabling people like Arseblog to quickly and cheaply share his and others opinions.

These are the driving factors of Arsenal’s, and in fact all of Footballs growth, not a coach whose job it is to coordinate 11 men to run around a field and kick a ball to each other.

The irony is you talk about complicated factors and then come to a simplistic conclusion, i can only assume you’re unaware of how much the world has changed in the last 20 years

clins

wenger is inept to win us titles anymore , that is a fact. but the problem lies far deeper than that . since wenger controls most power in the club , he is not accountable to board or the ceo when it is the case in pretty much every club . the successful clubs have people scrutinize every decision the manager takes , trying to figure out if he is good enough to manage the club.

at arsenal wenger not answerable . not one member at club including the ceo has the power to question wenger . wenger has become cozy in these settings . he has not evolved for years . and the situation has permeated to players and board members too . they have all become ambitionless.

cagooner

We’ve evolved alright. Evolved from a team with an innovative and revolutionary manager that consistently challenged for Premier League and CL Top 8, to a team with a manager who the game has passed by that is struggling to make Top 6 and consistently fails after group stage of CL. Thanks for the history AW. Please move on while you retain a shred of dignity, and bring in someone who can have the kind of impact Conte or Poch (sorry, but it’s true) have had just down the road.

I also disagree with your analogy. Wenger is the the equivalent of the head of operations for the train company. Akers is the train driver.

santori

Exactly.

Some people have convenient arguments to make them feel better about their grievances. The truth is a bit more complex.

Changing managers every season is not necessarily a recipe for progress better than a stable management system for 22 years either. Liverpool have done that with no success for a QUARTER of a centurie

gee

the club is a business, and operates like a business. the business model is working so they will not change a working business model. Fans living in the past with a romantic view that the club actually cares about the fans, end of the day they view us as consumers and they have a popular product. if you don’t like the product, don’t buy, that is the only protest that is relevant. Buying a ticket and then moaning about it is stupid

santori

Of course there is accountability.

Minimum finish is top 4.

But we have also been growing as a club since Wenger took over.

Much of this nonsense about how Wenger is destroying the club is as said nonsense concocted out of simplistic views.

We won’t even be able to independently afford the sort of players like Ozil or Alexis if we did not embark on a stadium move carefully sheperded and built upon on Wenger’s early success.

Adrian

The ultimate arbitor of Arsene Wenger’s future is ‘Silent Stan’. If he wants to see Arsene continue in the job then that is what will happen. Disgruntled fans should stop giving arsenal money and that would possibly trigger a change.

Goontang

So does this mean the board and the chief exec also has to change their ways too? Or is it solely about the manager and therefor gazidis is solely blaming the manager and taking absolutely no accountability.

Start off by renewing the contracts of our two best players you twats.

Marc Powell

Arsene wont go. They are making fools of the fans who pay the highest ticket prices for the worst show…ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

gooner of Oz

Our ticketprices are the biggest joke in whole football. People who see their club win leagues and Champion Leagues and their players Ballon d’or pay a fraction of what we pay. Our prices alone is higher than Bayern+United or Barca+Real. And not only we dont win a title like ever, they tell us we cannot compete with any of top Europian teams financially. Funny how we changed stadium and agreed to pay highest to be the 1st financial powerhouse of football. Funny how we reached that only for our businessmen owners bank account.

santori

Ticket prices are too high but to a point necessary to sustain the wages demanded by some of the players coming in like Ozil and Alexis.

But the club has also been making moves to grow the commercial side.

As and when this can catch up with the likes of United, the ticket prices will be less dependent upon and can be reduced.

Arguably they should be reduced further now considering such insipid performances (maybe there should be some form of performance relation)

The ironic thing is that the poor performances now do not justify the ticket cost as much particularly if we miss the boat on CL.

On field performances IMO must justify the high prices. Alas we also need the ticket price to attract the quality of players.

Frank

Why has it taken things to get this bad for change to be talked about? It’s been obvious that the club has been stagnating for quite a while now, regardless of the manager things like changes in backroom staff and a sporting director should’ve happened ages ago but it is typical of this club to be reactionary rather than preemptive.

santori

It hasn’t been entirely stagnant.

We turned the corner 2013/14 IMO. We started adding one to two Premium quality players and stopped the leak of top quality players which had handicapped us for many seasons during the stadium move and after.

We also started winning cups again two FA cups back to back plus we were starting to climb higher.

But momentum was lost last season with us failing to add anyone other than Cech and we miss the opportunity to win the title with Leicester going top. This season we have slid.

We are in danger of going back to losing top assets again and having to constantly rebuild.

Your narrative is not entirely accurate.

Rob67

The penultimate paragraph of today’s blog, nails it. If Wenger is wanting and he is ! It’s nothing compared to the utterly woeful non performance from the owner and the Board.

It was a black bleak day for Arsenal when Kronke got majority control. Utterly wretched.

Stuck on repeat...

One of the main roles that should be up for close scrutiny in all this promised “change”, is that of the Arsenal chief executive. Whilst I get that he is unlikely the main reason for a dismal season, it is he who has been nowhere to be seen during one of the most turbulent periods in the club’s recent history. Completely & utterly inept performance from the board all round.

Let’s face it, he only showed at the fan forum as he had to. It wasn’t any type of dynamic leadership on his paet. Can’t stand the man, & that twat Kronke can go too whilst we’re at it.

Vincent Adultman

Stubborn. Clinging on. Rearranging the deckchairs when the iceberg has already been hit. Most saddening of all : risking one of the great legacies in club football.

FollowThe Money

Pretty clear that the owner and directors have thoroughly examined the accounts and concluded that current TV deals mean even if we miss CL football next season, we still have the most profitable manager.

gooner of Oz

No way I’m drinking that milk

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner
Cyprus The Immortal Gooner

So if we hadn’t lost 4 games in a row, they were pretty happy to renew for another 2 years without ANY change? Just proves that they only care about return on their investment.

Mpls

Well if we’d won those 4 (haha!) we’d be on 63 points in 2nd, 6 points off Chelsea with 10 yet to play, so yes. I’d imagine any club in the league would be content and most of the supporter base would be too. Well, those willing to see the good side when it happens anyway.

gooner of Oz

Ivan or Stan have no idea about football ambitions and passion we fans have. Kroenke rarely speaks of any of his owned teams and when he does he says things you wished he never did. Calling club a “business brand” calling the game “soccer” and the passionate fans “something I cant understand”… Any successful club is run by an ambitious fan. Well except for American Glazers at United. Although with the huge pressure from OT seats they changed their approach to avoid the desaster of losing their supporters. After all fans are the most important aspect even for the business side of the game.

David Hillier\'s luggage
David Hillier\'s luggage

Agreed. Kroenke invests in sports teams to build and profit from the ‘brand’, except no one told him a football club’s brand is dependant on winning trophies – unlike American sports franchises that actually don’t need to win titles to be successful ‘brands’ (take the NY Knicks or the Yankees for example).

Monkey Nuts

Or the Toronto Maple Leafs who have been a failing on the ice for years but still sell out every game.

santori

I think they have good appreciation of risk though.

Stan is a business man and Ivan a suit.

Both understand that presently Wenger guarantees a high minimum record.

As and when he cannot deliver that, then they will have to consider a different approach.

Kroenke isn’t the ideal owner but he was probably seen as someone who could build us commercially and disengage our dependence on ticket pricing.

At very least silent Stan understand he knows little about the game and keeps his mouth shut, lets others carry on with the job.

In football terms, the entire club is carried on Wenger’s shoulder.

Gazidis is there for the business end. To expect him to do anything more is simply foolish.

Monkey Nuts

So Stan keeps his silence, Gazides is only there to manage the commercial interests of the club and Wenger does the football. Should not aCEO have more remit than that? I think he’s taking the piss quite frankly and Wenger should consider the failings of the last 5 years and do the right thing. The reason we are in this position is because no one has or is taking any tesponsibility despite taking home rather large wages. We are foolish alright not challenging the likes of Gazides.

Atom

The Glazers also have a very different business model than Kroenke though and thus have different incentives. They effectively did a leveraged buy out and need revenue to repay the loans vs. Kroenke who just owns the equity and wants the value to increase. Kroenke is an NFL owner who has massively benefited from the growth of the league raising all team prices vs. actually running a franchise well and having that impact the value. In a lot of ways he really doesn’t care if Arsenal does well as the real value add is the growth of the Premier League and the perception of Arsenal as a major club in that (even if that is now debatable). Woodward is also a much better financial director than whomever does the same for Arsenal as they have been able to strike much better deals without effectively competing for 5 years now.

Ricardo

All PR stuff. All about the what you wanna hear. Like he’s been doing since he joined.

Otto von B.

AbSolutely spot on. Ivan’s comments can be used for a b/s bingo game.
Money has increased in the game with a finite number of top players. Prices of those players must increase- simple economics except to AW.
Kroenke is interested in money not trophies, logical since it is his company.
As to responsibility: the buck has to stop somewhere and if your (highly paid) employee (AW) is not performing, the CEOs or ultimately owners job should be to replace him. If they don’t it tells its own story

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Whats with not naming names. This former player who is supposedly being brought into the backroom staff role, is being mentioned as if he were Voldemort.

kas

Any new Coach or Sporting director worth his salt will want all his own team with him So all the hangers on (Bould, Banfield, Peyton, Gatting etc etc) will have to go, how many coaches does it take to put cones out !

Toure motors

I don’t have much confidence in AW, but I have no confidence in this absolute rent boy

AngryRosicky

He’s a real comfortable politician. Why can’t we have someone with a little passion and honesty?

Sheldon Bueckert

now we’re pinning our hopes on a 70 year old man reinventing himself. this club is a joke.

Yankee Gooner

How people can believe that the running of a 1+ billion organization is entrusted to one person without any oversight is just astonishing.

santori

Which is why I said the Board is doing the right thing.

The last thing you want (short sighted fans) is for Wenger to take off and leave the whole club in a shambles.

Firstly we need to identify the best man to take us into the new era. That may mean if need be a transition year should post Wcup 2018 offer better range of prospects.

Secondly we have to put things in place for the new man. He may in turn also want many of his own staff so it is not surprising that the coaching system is currently as is.

Thirdly the board has already had Wiggelsworth (Leicester scout) appointed. If a football director is needed, I would think we would want someone with experience with the club and the market like say Grimandi in which case ben Wigglesworth can take over as head scout.

Gazidis is a suit. He isn’t going to stick his head out to commit to anything. Why should he? We need to weigh the end of season first before anythingelse and Wenger’s sentiment is still unclear.

People like to find scapegoats, Gazidis, Kroeke, Wenger, whoever.

The truth to our failing is slightly more complex and a mix of everything.

Monkey Nuts

Oh please stop apologising for this utter incompetence. It may well be more complex but the process to evolve as a club should be proactive not silence and the burying of heads. Stan obviously doesn’t give a toss and Ivan doesn’t know what to do.

Atom

santori – you like everyone else is welcome to their own opinion and I appreciate that you respectfully disagree rather than name calling etc. It seems pretty clear that this point that Wenger is going to stay regardless and he and the board just are too scared to announce it right now given how bad this season has gone.

I would point out that while Arsene deserves our respect and is Arsenal’s greatest manager, at some point he needs to stop living off reputation and perform. That was what the last 3 years was supposed to be about – he now had a massive transfer budget and had the opportunity to win. Yet over that time we have not meaningfully competed in either the Champions League or the Premier League.

Per the argument that Wenger = Ferguson and Arsenal will be a shambles when he leaves. Ferguson was a significantly better manager than Wenger – he never went more than 2 years without winning a title and even in his 60s was able to keep reinventing himself to compete for the Champions League and the Premier League (I like Wenger but no objective person will say he’s better than Ferguson). Wenger would be leaving a club who hasn’t meaningfully challenged for the Premier League or Champions League in well over a decade – Arsenal has been top end mediocrity for years now. Just enough to sneak into the Champions League but not good enough to actually compete. That alone will make Wenger much easier to replace than Ferguson as the standards are so much lower.

Arsenal is actually an attractive job for a manager and sporting director if the Club totally cuts the cord with Wenger. It’s a major club in London, with a lot of money and ownership who is extremely patient (Kroenke has demonstrated the same with his other sports teams) and who doesn’t meddle. If the board simply decided to move on I don’t think it would be difficult to attract a quality sporting director and manager. Maybe it gets worse for a year but I don’t think the outlook without Wenger is all that bad.

masterofthegoonaverse
masterofthegoonaverse

KROENKE & GAZIDIS OUT.

Lula da Gilberto

Change in a football club is not brought about by “catalysis”, there is no chemical agent we need to make a reaction. In fact, change in a football club is quite often brought about by its Chief Executive. So when ours decides he would rather employ intellectually baseless metaphors to obfuscate the fact that his role in the club is to effectuate change where needed and not to talk about it like a chemical reaction without agency, it is a massive indictment on the backwardness of the infrastructure of our football club.

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