Report: Arsenal open to sporting director appointment


Assuming you’re not a cynic who thinks the timing of this smells like a PR exercise by the club (*cough*), Arsenal are reportedly looking to recruit a sporting director as part of a shake-up of the club’s off-field structure.

The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson, the board’s fail-safe go-to media contact, suggests that Dick Law, Arsenal’s transfer ‘guru’, would be open to working with a newcomer in the short-term before handing over the reigns.

The report also states: “Should Wenger leave this year, it is likely that the [hiring] process would be accelerated and a sporting director figure would come in with a new manager, who is almost certain to take a more narrow focus of responsibilities.”

If you ask us, this type of article – dangling the prospect of change – hints more at Wenger signing a new deal and controlling an evolution of the set-up than him calling it quits in the summer.

The sporting director (aka director of football) position has become increasingly popular in England having found a strong foothold in the continental game. That said, the nature of the role is often unclear and extremely variable.

Responsibilities have included everything from working as an intermediary between manager and board, advising the manager and board on transfers, negotiating transfers and even stepping in as caretaker in the aftermath of a managerial sacking.

Prior to Wenger’s arrival and during the Frenchman’s early years at Highbury, vice-chairman David Dein played a role in securing transfers and much more beyond, however, his personal relationship with the man he hired and shareholder status defied any formal definition. As mentioned earlier, Dick Law now runs the team that dots the i’s and crosses the t’s with new and existing players.

Possible candidates for the role will obviously be dictated by what the role entails. The Independent throw five names into the hat: Sevilla’s Ramon Rodríguez Verdejo, Borussia Dortmund’s Michael Zorc, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Jordi Cruyff and ‘Invincible’ duo Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp.

Obviously, the romance of inviting back either of those last two is plain to see. For what it’s worth the likes of Edu (former director of football at Corinthians & team coordinator of Brazilian national team), Marc Overmars (director of football at Ajax), Gilberto (a short stint as technical director at Panathinaikos) are other ex-Gunners gaining experience in and around the boardroom of clubs.

One further ‘Invincible’ option is Robert Pires *swoon* who has said repeatedly, that he’d be interested in the role. At the tail end of last year he said:

“Yes, that [being sporting director] is my objective. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I need to talk about it with the owners and Arsene Wenger. I’d love this job, I love to talk with the players.

“If I’m given this job one day, I can stay in contact with football, especially with Arsenal.

“I have a good relationship with the manager, that’s important. I can work with the players, I can give advice to the young players, so we can find a good relationship between me and the players.”

Arsenal are also currently recruiting a new head of the Academy after Andries Jonker quit his role to take over as head coach at Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.

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How many poos then?


pure spec


pure speculation or pure specimen?

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Can’t the club just sack Wenger and start afresh with Dennis Bergkamp at the helm? *swoon*!

Roy stott

Since they voted David from off is it a coincidence we haven’t been the force we were .wish Arsene and David could be reunited ,plus what a great job Mr wenger is doing with all disruption with stadium etc

Andy Mack

You want Dein who introduced Kronke (the Kronke that half the fans are moaning about)… Also father of the Agent that’s screwed us over more than a few times….Not sure that would go down too well with the supporters.

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Dein didn’t introduce Kronke. Dein was firmly in the Usmanov camp, and urged the Arsenal board to bring in the Usmanov to counter Abramahamovic at Chelsea.

But …


No, Dein was the one who first brought Kroenke in, to buy the stake held by Granada/ITV if I remember correctly. The issue was he didn’t tell the board about it who then viewed Kroenke, and subsequently Dein, as hostile. After that Dein sold his stake to Usmanov.

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

I case anyone is wondering Usmanov is the richest person in Russia, Abrahamovic is 13th.

Usmanov’s fortune is worth nearly twice of Abrahamovic’s.

Andy Mack

TDTBO, I guess that many fans have forgotten Dein brought Kronke to Arsenal then, like you have… So maybe not such a problem for new fans or the older ‘memory challenged’ fans…


Vieira’s future is coach
Would love to see Robert Pires in such kind of role !

David C

would we not prefer someone with experience in the role? I love Pires, but he would be better as assistant technical director if that job exists in footie.

I’m Canadian, so it’s hard not for me to compare to sports over here. Technical director over here is called General Manager (or GM). It would be absurd for any team to pick a rookie GM with no experience. The fans wouldn’t have it. Usually, you work under the GM for years until you’ve built up the knowledge, contacts, etc. Mind you, the leagues over here are much more complicated (salary caps, drafts, etc.).


But if Wenger stays beyond this season, it is conceivable that a “rookie” sporting director could be hired. No?


Just to play devils advocate.

I think NBA Warriors hired their GM Myers with no experience and the Lakers just hired another GM with no experience. Both though were player agents leading up to them being hired.

Bombay Gooner

Dennis as the new Head of the Academy, Bobby as Sporting Director, Paddy as Assistant Manager. That would be sweet.

David Arsenal

Mate I am struggling to know who paddy is? Not sure if this reveals a lack of knowledge or not. Haha


vieira mate.


Patrick Vieira

Godfrey Twatschloch

He’s Irish?

Andy G

Paddy Vieaddy!


@David Arsenal – Pls tell me you’re not serious….

A Gorilla

who do you think would be the best manager in this set up?


With Vieira and Pires there for player management, his weaker area is fully covered.


My money is on none of the above happening though.


I don’t know what the fascination is with Vieira. This guy seems to have an issue with Arsenal. Each of his statements sound very negative towards Arsenal. He is definitely not my choice. Not for a long shot. I would chose him as a last resort.

Al Gilmore

I know some are still concerned over the quality of the players he buys and the quality of some players we miss out on. But I would rather AW became our sporting director and we hired a head coach instead.

It’s more likely that a coach can be found who may share AWs footballing values but also has the added tactical spark I think we are lacking. I also think we need a new voice in the dressing room because it is clear some players have heard everything the boss has to say and it isn’t having an effect any more.

Losing AW – whether we think it is time or not – is like losing 2 people in the modern game. He is the last of his kind. Trying to fill both his roles at once is very similar to what happened at Utd where they lost Fergie,changed their coaching staff AND lost their chief exec all at the same time. They have struggled to recover…and that is with spending a world record amount of money since SAF retired.

Food for thought.


There’s a reason though that this position has increasingly been filled by more than one person: to spread responsibility and fulfill the demands of the workload. I really think we suffer from Wenge rnot being able to fulfill his role in the transfer dealings. He doesn’t really have time and probably he’s also in no mood to entertain agents and network the way someone needs to to stay connected.


I agree and I think Arsene would make a great sporting director.

However I can’t see any senior manager coming in who’d want to be working in his shadow.

Also isnt the whole idea of change about bringing fresh blood and new ideas into the club? I’m not sure that keeping Arsene is such a crucial role would do that.


arsene wenger would make a good sporting director . you would’nt get any other who is as experienced and knowledgable than arsene and he is completely familiar with the inside dealings of the club.

and i agree with emob. not having a sporting director has always affected wenger and arsenal . when we had david dein we had the influence to buy very good players . since then our transfer dealings have been very poor . for every fabregas there was another 5 playes not good enough for us . and the number of young players like zlatan, ronaldo we lost due to poor dealings has been huge. sure money was a factor but if we had an influential director like the one they have in dortmund and sevilla or southampton it wont matter how many players we lost because we always will find a better player to replace him.


I’ve written before here regarding the transition of Arsene out of the active role of manager. We will have learned nothing from the Fergie fiasco if we don’t create a smooth, staggered (as opposed to staggering!) exit for him.
It would be extremely shrewd to keep his goldmine of Arsenal experience on tap whilst bringing in fresh thinking in the manager role. The challenge will be to find that manager… strong enough to bring new thinking but collaborative enough to relish the prospect of tapping into Arsene’s experience.
My dream team woulda been Pep – and it was a possibility when he originally dropped those subtle hints about Arsenal a few years back. He admires Arsenal and a deal could well have been struck had we not had a bunch of myopic indecisive ostriches for a board!


Oops – ‘admires Arsene’. (bloody Mac spellchecker).

But perhaps my Mac know something… correcting Arsene to Arsenal – hmmm?


Not sure I understand how Ferguson helped United when he retired. Title-winning exit aside, he left them a declining squad, and was instrumental in appointing David Moyes.

Ah, Pep would’ve been great. Advantage we have now is that very few big clubs are looking to change managers this summer so as long as the ostriches get their act together, there’s plenty of good options for us.

Andy Mack

AWs passion is working with the players. I can’t see any way he’d take the stress of a ‘Sporting Director’ Role without the player involvement.

Andy Mack

I think the same would be true of God, who really enjoys the coaching role he has at Ajax.

J Reihill

Speaking of Overmars- this date 19 years ago he was banging one in at Old Trafford to set up the double. First game I ever attended. Not a bad one to start!


Now those sir, those were the days.


Hire the trio! DB10, PV4 and RP7 would be amazing to help instill winner mentality and club values. Pires as SD, Bergkamp to coach our strikers, and Vieira to just be bad ass.


Plot twist: The new sporting director is Arsene Wenger!
In all seriousness though, I really hope that the board recognizes that the club isn’t going to win or even challenge for a major trophy under the current manager, and seek to bring in a new manager in June when Wengers contract expires. Another two years of the same would only go to alienate more supporters, who are already pretty apathetic to the club. Lets be honest, supporting Arsenal in the last few years hasn’t at all been fun, the standard of football has decreased and the constant heartbreak has only made fans more distanced from the club. Another two years of Wenger would be boring.


It’s only Wenger’s asslicking idiots that will down vote this comment.


Why can’t we get a Martin Keown involved at the club? I know Pires/Dennis/Paddy/Edu/Overmars all are good bets to take over the role but I would prefer someone who bleeds Arsenal and not necessarily a Wenger disciple who will tend to want to buy similar players to what has failed thus far.


Love Martin Keown, but don’t think anyone that’s devoted the period after their retirement to broadcasting will fit the bill, and that includes TH14. Thank you Gary Neville for providing the evidence.


Wow, didn’t expect that. I’m of the firm opinion we could have needed someone like that for a long time. Unfortunately I have zero faith that this goes beyond a PR exercise to appease the fans and appear to be active in “changing” the faulty strctures at the club rather than an rational analysis of what is needed. A token gesture. But then gaain, maybe some good can come out of it.


Vieira on the sidelines , pires on the phone lines which player wouldn’t want to sign.


Obviously everyone loves the lads from those golden years during the late 90’s and early 2k’s, but i wonder if Pires is a bit of a nostalgic choice, who is so much a student of Wenger that he won’t bring the needed kick up the ass we’re looking for. If Wenger stays on, I’d be keener for a ‘team of rivals’ type thing; someone who might lack Wenger’s romantic ideals but is a cut throat ‘lets win some fuckin shit asap’ sort of guy. I don’t know who’s been overseeing the rise of athletico from a solid mid table Everton type club to a genuine European giant, but it’s got to more than simione. sevilla have also moved permanently up the pecking order the past 5 or so years. I desperately want Arsenal to launch a sustained campaign to return to being a genuine European heavyweight, while we’ve still got the status to pull in world class players. Last thing in this rant: I never recall star players contracts being consistently ran down to the wire in Dein’s day, apart from the aging Bergkamp, and he was such a sweetheart we always knew he’d be on for another year no matter how badly for granted we treated his loyalty.


Sevilla’s rise has been very much down to Ramon Rodríguez Verdejo “Monchi” and he is going to be leaving the club at the end of this season. In 2002 Sevilla were in the second division when the new administration appointed Monchi and he has turned them into one of the top sides not just in Spain but in Europe. He has brought in the likes in dani alves, ivan rakitic, julio baptista, frederic kanoute, luis fabiano, seudou keita and so many more.
Also under him they have brought in some great managerial talent from juande ramos to unai emery and now jorge sampaoli.
Hands down he is the best available person for the job right now.


Smells like something that will amount to nothing after season ticket renewals occur….


“….even stepping in as caretaker in the aftermath of a managerial sacking”

Ha, you’re talking about Arsenal here, where the manager decides when he goes.

Andy Mack

Tell that to George Graham, Terry Neill and Bruce Rioch


If true thats good, things have got a bit stale and any possible change is a starting point as I don’t believe it’s only wenger that’s the problem.


Whoever comes in will have to be a spineless yes man to the Robert Mugabe of Arsenal FC.
Nothing changes…


In most European clubs, the director of football is the guy who actually picks the manager (who isn’t exactly a manager but a Head coach). It is not a role suited to English football and it is definitely not going to change much if AW is still around.


that is true . in many good clubs ambition of a sporting director reflects the ambition of the clubs. like how southmpton changed from a team fighting relegation to a team fighting for european places after they changed the sporting director . sure wenger will have the bigger say as long as he will be there but on the longer run having a ambitious director will take as far even after wenger leaves the club.

Bendtner's Ego

You are all making me laugh.

Vieira burnt his bridges a long time ago. Never want to see that guy back in any capacity. I don’t even care to see a news article about him.


This is just window dressing.
The key question is :- ‘Are we going to put up with two more years of Arsenal as an ersatz personality cult, whose sole objective is to give unlimited employment opportunities to one man ? Or do we become a football Club again ?’

Until that is answered, the rest is twaddle.

Cliff Bastin

Hire me. I have at least 10 years of FM experience just give me 5 years and an unlimited transfer budget and we’ll be Real Madrid.


Why would a student of Wenger be better than Wenger at doing a job Wenger already does? That being said, a “sporting director” is often just an ambassador more than anyone with actual responsibility, which means it’s not likely to be the adjustment that suddenly skyrockets us to a PL win.

Even Ferguson had genuine sparring partners in people like Gill, Kidd and Queiroz, but neither were called a sporting director. Wenger himself had Dein back in the days. What we need is more of that, and I don’t think anyone currently on the staff can do that job, nor do I think hiring some symbolic sporting director will get the job done.


Edu has had a meteoric rise up to working with the Selecao, and Overmars has done a good job at Ajax. Definite yes to either of those two. Along with Pires, those guys would respect Wenger’s legacy.

But the context of this article is troubling, especially the line where it’s mentioned that Wenger wants to “reinvent himself”. We’ve just lost 5 games in 7. As Arseblog wrote on the blog this morning, for the last decade our title challenges have collapsed around March. There’s no reinventing those cold, hard, facts.


It sounds as the planning for an Arsene’s successor is only just being kicked of. That means at least another 2 years with the same manager.
Disregarding general disliking of our board, I don’t think they’re so stupid they would part with Wenger with no transition plan whatsoever.
We’re late and behind with our transition plans and we are not really bothered with that which bothers me the most. Every club have highs and lows and those difficult times are always dealt with in one way or another but we do not seem to acknowledge the extent of crisis we find ourselves in.
I thought Arsene staying or leaving would depend on how well we finish the season but as this progress I am more and more convinced we’ll be having the same manager next season.

Faisal Narrage

So is the new PR spin?
No more “£70mil WAR CHEST” anymore, they’ve catered on that fans now know simply buying isn’t enough, so now want to entice us with dreams of a new system, order and era to ensure we renew those STs.


If we are going to start fresh if and when AW goes then we need a clean sweep across the board no previous players involved otherwise the old hat will still want to fit the stale regime. New manager new ideas new passion new tactics etc he will then pick his own team around him

Samuel Ogungbayi

Arsene Wenger is not capable of “reinventing “himself or anything for that matter in Arsenal F.C. If he believes he can do that , let him go to another club to do that ,after all he said he is sure to manage next season in Arsenal or any other place.
APPEAL : Mr. Wenger , you have been vilified ,disrespected and insulted for long by the “WENGER OUT” brigade for non performance. I appeal to you to leave Arsenal , go to another club to ‘reinvent ‘ yourself so much so that the pundits, Arsenal fans and the Board will send a delegation ‘ cap in hand’ to tender unreserved apologies to you and beg you to come back .
This is the best way to shame your “ungrateful ” critics.


Bobby Pires to be introduced as Sporting Director.

Bergkamp to come back in place of Jonker as Academy Coach.

Arsene to sign another 2 year deal and work with Bobby and Dennis on transitioning the club, with a view to extend if we’re not quite there.

The trio to get AFC into good shape ahead of Bergkamp taking over from Arsene, backed up by Bobby.

Sounds ideal to me


This shouldn’t even be a question among the candidates mentioned.
Monchi at Sevilla has changed the entire club, he has an incredible network of contacts and he is great at making a profit for his club (something Stan would want and something the sporting director should be good at as opposed to the manager)
The team needs more professionalism and less of the arm-around-shoulder school attitude that has become so common.
If they can get him, Monchi would be the signing of the season.


Make no mistake, fellow Gooners, Wenger will sign again. Around March 26 slated as the date for announcement apparently. It will happen. So resign yourselves to two more years of the same (relative) failure.
Sorry to be bearer of bad news


We need defensive coach like Tony Adams/Marty Keown/Steve Bould/the German or Italian national defensive coach? … Dennis/Bobby both attackers. Bloody amazing pair on field so hope that translates into management etc


“Hand over the reins”. Handing over rhetoric reigns doesn’t make sense,does it?


(Ugh, thanks autocorrect.)