Do Arsenal have an ace up their sleeve waiting to be played? It’s no secret, Arsenal Football Club is a sporting entity that runs itself differently. This contrast lies in the inordinate amount of decision-making placed in the hands of the manager while the Board and organizational personnel handle matters behind the scenes. The irony is that while this difference has made Arsenal unique and admirable, it has simultaneously led to the club’s decline.
Arsene is the one constant during my life supporting Arsenal. Many fans, myself included, embraced our philosophical divergence while he was in charge. Arsene was our legend that kept us within touching distance of the European elite, despite the financial difficulties of building a new stadium. We didn’t recycle managers like other top clubs and didn’t overspend to bring players in.
His reign has seen him cultivate an unhealthy amount of organizational influence and control. Arsenal’s next manager, and no manager in world football, should ever be allowed so much power. However, maybe our empowerment of managers should be embraced. I’ve been wondering, could we offer a bit more influence than typical of most managers to ensure we land an established name to embody of our new ethos? It’s so important that the next man in charge carries a blend of charisma as well as tactical ingenuity. Depending on his specific ideals, this managerial jurisdiction could entail a significant say over some of the following football-related matters: academy development, transfer policy, retention of players, or physical development.
As we enter this transitional period, whenever it may arrive, we should embrace what has made us unique. However, there is one stipulation upon which this whole idea hinges: There must be clearly established success targets with consequences for not meeting them. Major trophies and/or European success should be expected within a certain amount of time or the manager should be fired. Accountability has been lacking at Arsenal and it’s time to this to change.
1. Establishment of a New Identity
It’s hard to pinpoint what Arsenal’s identity has been recently. Despite a healthier more talented squad, gone are the days of free flowing attacking football with individual expressionism constantly on display. It seems to me that we are caught between two or possibly even three styles, resulting in a clear dilution of the overall product.
I want to see our next manager have the freedom to place his stylistic imprint on the team. The likes of Tuchel and Jardim should be uninhibited to commit to their tactical flexibility and selective pressing. Diego Simeone should bring his gritty, defensive approach that could make us reminisce about the days under Graham. Guardiola should be allowed to instill his positional play ideology where players are interchangeable and can perform a variety of roles.
The manager is the one in charge of empowering and motivating, and he will become synonymous with the new Arsenal while in charge. Most of us when we hear a football club, conjure up mental images of either a star player or the manager. We don’t immediately think of owner, majority shareholders, directors of football, board members, and so on. Let’s make a strong personality the face of our beloved club and allow his identity to permeate throughout.
2. Football Decisions Being Made by Footballing Minds
Who do you trust on the current Arsenal board to make decisions that increase results on the field? The Kroenkes, Gazidis, Friar, Sir Chips? No way. Allowing the new manager more say over our new stylistic values could create a counterbalance to the soccer personalities on the board. The only man with more power at Arsenal Football Club is Stan Kroenke. He has been willing to leave the majority of footballing decisions to Wenger over the years rather than the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis. Maybe this will continue to be the case with the next gaffer.
It also makes the appointment of a Director of Football even more interesting. If rumors are correct, a former player will be appointed and he can work with our next coach to help instill in him the Arsenal values. The pair can work in tandem to ensure that important on-field issues are being made by footballing personalities without losing our identity.
3. Catering to the Allure of the Premier League
Many of the best managers in the world of football want to prove themselves on the biggest stage with the spotlight squarely on them. Despite Champions League shortcomings hurting its credibility a bit, the Premier League is the most competitive league where the most teams have the possibility of winning the league. What better way to accommodate this attraction then by giving a manager the added influence to win it his way? There are currently six massive footballing entities, maybe seven if Everton’s new ownership can bear fruit, where style and methodology are always in focus. This means new managers are constantly re-inventing themselves in an attempt to obtain an advantage on their counterparts.
The money on offer in the Premier League certainly doesn’t hurt either. There are only a few other clubs in world football that can offer the financial backing of an established Premier League side. Not only would our next manager be well compensated but they would have significant funds to bring in players that fit their mold. Guardiola, Klopp, and Conte have all brought in such players. These personalities help play to the manager’s style, which will lead to a new team ethos.
In summary, I understand this is an unpopular view. Influence and power should be earned and not necessarily given to you. Organizational decisions should be made together and as part of a holistic model. I’ve had many discussions with fellow Syracuse Gooner group members and they make many of the same points.
My counterpoint is that we’ve seen the blueprint for success in the Premier League (Leicester City aside). The new model is a strong manager with a focus purely on winning football, at whatever cost. The non-Ferguson winning managers recently are: Mourinho, Pellegrini, Mancini, and Ancelotti. All with around a two to four year reign with near immediate success demanded of them. It’s time to re-establish our prominence on the world stage and bring in a new manager that feels properly empowered to push us forward and not restricted by a conservative Board.
Follow me on Twitter @dfresh10
31 year old based in the U.S. I am an elementary school teacher by day whose passion for teaching is only rivaled by a love for the Arsenal. I release a weekly piece each Tuesday that is oftentimes analytical but sometimes eccentric. Founder of the U.S. supporters group Syracuse Gooners (www.cusegooners.com). I enjoy interacting with any and all Arsenal-based opinions on Twitter. Have a younger brother who chose to support Spurs. Fielding suggestions for ways to disown him.