Soccer thread: On Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis Q&A

Naturally, this will be about Arsenal. There was an article posted today in the Telegraph, containing a transcript of an interview with Arsenal executive Ivan Gazidis. Topics ranged from FFP, Arsenal’s financial position, the squad’s chances for this season, and Arsene Wenger. You can find it here:

Over the past few years, and possibly before that and my fandom began, there has been a lot of discussion that Wenger has stagnated at Arsenal, and perhaps it is time to change things up and bring in someone new to "revitalize" or "freshen up" the club. While I think there is some merit to that, I’m not sure that there is an easy answer to the situation. The only other manager in the modern football game who has a similar tenure in length to Wenger would be the one and only Sir Alex Ferguson, who has won more and arguably done better in his time there at Manchester United. This, for me, makes it difficult to analyze Wenger and SAF’s positions: there isn’t much of a sample size to compare with.

I’ve seen the argument made that even President Obama, in his first team, routinely changes staff, constantly bringing in new faces as advisors and members of his team leave for other ventures. Whether or not those personnel changes have had a positive effect on his first term is a topic that won’t be discussed in this post. And truly, considering the drastic changes that have transpired in the footballing world during Wenger’s term (oil money, the move to the Emirates, etc), it is somewhat remarkable that there hasn’t been more of an effort to shake things up throughout the years.

The recent promotion of Steve Bould certainly seems to show that Wenger has realized this and is changing up, hopefully to the benefit of AFC. I still think he is the right manager for the future, and past results or lack thereof are not directly his fault, though he certainly shares some of the blame. I’m not sure a different manager would have performed much better than he has over the past 15 years. This quote from IG speaks volumes to the work he has done:

Along the way the environment became more difficult and I think Arsene has done an absolutely masterful job within the constraints he has – they are a club that is doing this on its own two feet without an outside benefactor – to make really smart decisions over time.

He hasn't got every one correct but broadly fantastic decisions on players, the development on the team, the need to keep the team competing at the top of the game.

We have been in Europe for 15 straight years. We are ranked sixth in Europe by Uefa – those things are taken for granted but they are fantastic achievements through the process of building a stadium and catapulting the club forward.

This is already getting wordy so I’ll stop here, but, I’d be interested to hear your guy’s thoughts on Wenger moving forward and anything else that was covered in the transcript with IG. I’m particurlary excited to see how bullish (or bearish? The good feeling one.) on FFP being enforced and becoming a reality.

A couple more quotes, one on Wenger:

He is still fit, ready to go and enthusiastic about the players we've got, particularly the younger players – and often that's the thing that gets him most excited. Which, again, is quite unusual.

It's fantastic to see his endless enthusiasm and I really have learnt from Arsene, and players learn from him as well. We're not dominated by fear and yet we live in an environment in football where fear is really prevalent.

Players feel fear all the time and yet actually Arsène never succumbs in his thinking about players, his thought process and how players can develop to his worst fears. He's always looking forward. He's never governed by fear.

The football club was never governed by fear a long way before Arsene was here, and that's why I think we all get on so well.

I think he could stay on longer, absolutely he could. We haven't discussed it yet but I believe he could. He's fit, 62 years old, he's in fantastic shape and he's as driven as he's ever been, as enthusiastic and excited as ever and I feel he can keep going for a long time.

One on ambition:

We get accused of a lack of ambition or complacency because apparently the board are only interested in the top four – that is absolute rubbish. To me this is the most ambitious football club I know. To be able to execute the vision is amazing to me.

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