So Ivan you have talked the talk. Now time to walk the walk!

When it comes to blogging I prefer to
focus on our players on-field performance or tactical decisions, but for this
week I’m going to focus on our South African Chief Executive Ivan
Gazidis.

After
all if it wasn’t for him there’d be no Arsenal-related news over the past eight
days.  He’s shown his face a lot and whilst he has tried to fill us all
with positive vibes, I can’t help but feel we’ve been down this road before. 

I
just want to start by looking at his quotes from his interview last week. 

“We
finished with 73 points and in fourth place which I would say was necessary for
us. We want to be competing at the top of the game and in order to do that you
have to be in the Champions League.”

This seems a bit back to front for me. He thinks to compete at the
top you have to be in the Champions League but surely competing at the top
makes Champions League football a lot easier to achieve? Making the Champions
League element rather irrelevant in a sense.

We
want to be a club that is competing at the very top end of the game and that
means competing to win the Premier League and competing to win the Champions
League. On that basis, we are not where we want to be yet.”

Yes Ivan indeed we aren’t, we went to be back at the top, where we were some
eight to 10 years ago. The reality is that you don’t go from perennial second
rounder’s in the Champions League and 3rd of 4th in the league to competing on
both fronts. To bridge that gap we have to make big signings (more on that
later) and even then it may still be a two season job (minimum).

“The
critical thing now as we look ahead over the next season and the season after
is our developing financial capability which will give us a lot more options
than in recent years.” 

“We
also have new revenue streams coming on board and all of these things mean we
can do things which would excite you.”

Now I won’t kid anyone into thinking I’m a financial expert but what strikes me
is that no matter what money is available now or in 12 months time, the club
simply will not speculate to accumulate. We knew there’d be a new TV deal
waiting for us at the end of the 12/13 season, yet we couldn’t splash the cash
last summer. Well we did, but then we recouped it all. You hear a lot about the
Puma deal and whilst the club are silent on that front due to an alleged
confidentiality agreement, wouldn’t it be worth getting a head start on that
cash injection? We always have to wait yet very few others do. 

“It
has been quite a slow start (to the transfer market) and I think that’s
because there was such a managerial musical chairs going on that everybody is
waiting for that to settle down – I think clubs are, agents are and players
are.” 

That seems very much like an excuse to me. He has suggested that we are
interested in players that are at managerless clubs or more likely clubs with
new managers but then you see deals like Joaquin to La Viola. Now I’m not
suggesting that we should be signing Joaquin, but it didn’t stop Fiorentina
dealing with Malaga did it? I can’t say I’m particularly impressed that whilst
in the most active part of Gazidis’ season that the South African is holding a
Q&A. It is good that he engages with fans but at the end of the day, that’s
not his job.

The key quote came following a question about whether we could afford a £25m
signing and 200k pw. He replied:

“Of
course we could do that, we could do more than that. We have a certain amount
which we’ve held in reserve.”

Now given our current wage infrastructure I cannot buy into the fact we
would go to this extreme but the only way it could/would be if we signed an
elite player. This signing/deal will cause others to go looking for pay rises.

So when all was said and done Gazidis’ comments came out on season
ticket deadline day. So being the cynic that Arsenal have made me, just made me
think this was all too convenient.

One
aspect that never seems to be a matter of focus for Gazidis is our
inability to dine at top table when it comes to transfer dealing. Now it’s
all becoming apparent that there have been many restraints in place at The
Emirates but Gazidis is now saying we can afford to a top drawer player.
Which is fine but why would they want to join
us? 

I really have to take a step back here because
it hurt to write that but why would a top player like Wayne Rooney want to join
us?

The three major factors in football are 

1. Money
2. Trophies
3. Playing
 
Now, for top players #3 is a certainty, unless
there’s been a falling out between player and manager, Iker Casillias springs
to mind. So that leaves money and trophies, now with Ivan saying money isn’t an
issue that leaves trophies. Trophies have escaped us for the last eight years
and I’d love to know how Arsene Wenger, Gazidis and Dick Law will circumnavigate
this issue. If you want to attract top players then you have to convince them
that they are going to compete on the biggest stage and that isn’t just about
competing in the Champions League, it’s about challenging for the biggest
prize in club football. If we want to break away from the tedious battle for
4th and get back amongst it, then you have to view a players thoughts when it
comes to a flat out battle. The other three have recent track records that
suggest they will seriously contest and win the majority of events but we’ve
fallen off the pace. This is why we need a big signing – we need the
belief back.

Many point to Dennis Bergkamp signing for us and how it
changed our club for the better. It made Wenger’s job that much easier. He had
a settled back five and the best roaming forward in the land, what could go
wrong. Now we need a signing to join and convince others that our club is the
place to be. Bergkamp made it possible for us to sign players like Marc
Overmars . If you wanted to play devil’s advocate you could say we took a
gamble on a player with a chequered injury record but he still had blistering
pace and an eye for goal. We need history to repeat itself once more. 

For Ivan though, he’s made his bed but the man,
who once played a part in David Beckham joining the MLS, now needs to
revolutionise his current club. He has hung Wenger out to dry with the
lack of funds and he may find that if we are poor next season, that it’ll be
him and not Wenger under the most pressure.

Michael Jeffares


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3 Responses to So Ivan you have talked the talk. Now time to walk the walk!

  1. Ian Hawthorne June 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Sorry to disagree but it is Wenger who won’t pay 22m for Fellaini or 25m for Higuain or they would already be Arsenal players

    • peladon@gmail.com June 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

      Transfers in the real world aren’t like Football Manager where you just chuck in an offer and a few minutes later you get the player. Chelsea’s just-completed deal with Schürrle took a good three months to get done. Bayern has been after Lewandowski for the whole year and reportedly agreed personal terms months ago. Are either of those sagas a consequence of the club in question not being willing to fork out money? No.

      In any case, Fellaini and Higuain are names that have been thrown out there by the media, and it’s not necessarily clear that there is anything substantial behind them. The Times, apropos of nothing, declared that Arsenal were interested in activating Fellaini’s release clause and suddenly everyone was assuming that Fellaini would be unveiled at the Emirates within the week. Each transfer window, Arsenal is linked to literally hundreds of players (there are a couple of sites that compile lists). Bottom line is, it doesn’t pay to be credulous when it comes to transfer rumours.

    • Michael Jeffares June 15, 2013 at 8:41 am #

      I agree with you to a point. Clearly sides like Real are waiting for their new manager, so it’s not entirely true.

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