Arsene Wenger, our most successful manager ever, left in 2018.
Unai Emery couldn’t resolve the bad defending and weak mentality of the latter Wenger period, and he left in Nov. 2018.
Ivan Gazidis, the former club CEO, is now Chief Executive at AC Milan.
Arteta is now in, and thus far it’s OK.
And the power that is at Arsenal brought in Raul Sanhelli and Edu as head of football and technical director respectively.
However, there is a reason why we’re rooted in mid-table now.
And why there has been a considerable slump in our fortunes, and a misuse of resources, and a plethora of missed opportunities.
In short, it’s down to our “esteemed” owner, Mr. Stan Kroenke.
Since he took over 2011, we’ve gone from consistent top four, down to mid-table.
Here is why:
Lack of oversight
KSE didn’t and doesn’t know how to buy players.
But his employees, namely Wenger, Gazidis, and now Raul and Edu, should be made to account for both good and bad buys.
An employer always has oversight over an employee. This includes guidance, instruction, praise, and discipline. And this can apply to the biggest and smallest of jobs.
Since there were consistent mistakes happening, it seems that KSE’s employees were not brought to account.
It’s said that KSE sacked Wenger – if so then Stan only did this when things got really bad. Wenger up until then was performing at a level that satisfied him, but not when we were sixth and facing many empty seats at games. This was the ultimate nail in the Wenger managerial coffin, which KSE had to hammer in, once things didn’t fall in his metrics.
A high-performing culture in any organisation requires oversight, communicating, and upholding. KSE clearly allowed things to get mediocre, and only now has corrected things (or sought to correct them) once things didn’t go to plan.
This is being reactive and not proactive, and not how a healthy business should operate. KSE, as a successful businessman himself, should know and comprehend this.
A culture of mediocrity
A major reason why businesses succeed, in any industry, is their culture.
The culture of Arsenal, under prime George Graham and Wenger, was one of working hard, graft, determination and winning.
This also was supported by the board level, inclusive of former vice-Chairman David Dein, and the late former Chairman Peter Hill-Wood.
Ken Friar, now a board member and former MD, aided in this too.
Spurs have risen since Daniel Levy and Joe Lewis joined: both have different attitudes than Lord Sugar did towards their club.
Chelsea and Abramovich, City and UAE/Shiekh Mansour, and Liverpool/FSG, all represent high-performing cultures.
From 2011 onwards, from the point that KSE bought a majority stake in the club, we have not been high-performing.
Wenger notedly said, “top four is a trophy”. Well, this made sense on one level. The Champions League is a massive moneymaker.
But then finishing fourth alone isn’t a trophy. It’s an acknowledgment of middling it – and finishing as an also-ran.
KSE didn’t say this – but as the owner, he facilitated and enabled it and didn’t call it out. Nor want to.
So he had the power to create a winning culture, and he chose mediocrity.
And this, people, is why we’re in mid-table in 19/20 season.
Kroenke is a near-elderly American – and without stereotyping most Americans of his age don’t have a full appreciation of football. There may be exceptions of course, but then growing up football/soccer was not a common sport in the USA.
So it’s possible, given this background, that he relied on Wenger and Gazidis’s knowledge for years.
Wenger was, of course, a seasoned and celebrated manager. He was and is a club legend. So why question his judgment?
Gazidis had experience in MLS, and thus had knowledge of football administration.
So why not rely on them and their extensive skills and experience?
This may seem reasonable. However, I tend to think differently here, compared to other fans who share the views stated above.
Look at the Virgin Group. Sir Richard Branson founded this in the early 1970s, and his first business was a record store.
As of 2020, the Group he founded has space vehicle construction, trains, music stores, and numerous other concerns.
They all are in different industries, and all of these industries have their own needs and challenges. Running a music store requires different inputs than running train services.
To enter a new industry, Branson had to do a thorough analysis. The investment had to make sense, as well as reinforce Virgin’s brand.
It makes sense since a bad investment could cost jobs, money, and even the business itself.
Any investment requires analysis of some sort – and this is high when moving into a totally new industry and way of doing things.
This begs the question, what analysis did KSE do? They knew that Wenger was and is a legend. They knew Gazidis was seasoned in football administration.
But they didn’t really keep to any other standards or have any new ideas to boost the club.
Did they consult leading football finance experts? Or even players, coaches, media figures, etc. who knew English and European football?
Lack of knowledge is one thing. But then analyses should be done to mitigate risk and gain knowledge.
What’s more is that now, with almost ten years of owning Arsenal, KSE cannot use the “ignorance” excuse. Not with nearly a decade of results and operations to have overseen.
So KSE is to blame for our woes.
Sure – he doesn’t buy the players.
He doesn’t coach them.
But then as the owner, he is responsible for setting the strategy, tone, and vision of the club.
We cannot blame Wenger – he has gone.
We cannot blame Gazidis – he has gone.
We cannot blame Emery – he has gone.
Even if we could, they were all KSE’s employees, and ultimately reported to him anyhow.
This piece may seem a bit academic. I am an MBA student, so this is why I guess. Despite different industries, there are common ways to view and analyse all businesses.
But then KSE is our club’s problem. And it must extend beyond any manager, CEO, head coach, head of football, or technical director on our books.
We as Gooners should do a lot more to call out KSE – and this won’t be the last time I’ll air displeasure at them, that’s for sure.