The tensions are increasing within Arsenal football club, mainly because we are witnessing another season which is destined to end in failure. Wenger has recently been involved in a difference of opinion with the clubs players regarding tactics and in a seemingly never-ending spat with Ivan Gazidis.
It’s the fall out with Stan Kroenke’s righthand man over the proposed sales of Ozil and Sanchez and the available funds for the January transfer window which is the most intriguing. The relationship between the pair is said to be at an all-time low and shows no signs of improving.
Gazidis has unfulfilled ambitions and wants to exert greater control in the operation of the club and his only obstacle is the manager. Once he is gone, Gazidis can put a director of football in place at the club, someone of his choosing, to agree with him in the same way he agrees with Arsenal’s absent owner.
It’s an idea that Wenger detests and it won’t be something that will happen anytime soon if the manager gets his way. So, it sounds like a damaging stand off but the manager is no longer bullet proof.
Some members of the board are starting to become disgruntled by the teams constant failure and realise that they will soon have to explain why Arsenal cannot mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title against Country’s elite.
Wenger is gradually losing his control and power base at the club and the rumour is that majority of the board are less likely to extend Wenger’s contract when it expires. Meanwhile the Arsenal manager is also starting to think about life away from North London. Under the circumstances, he may be disinclined to consider the option of a contract extension even if it were to be available because of increasing pressures from within.
The latest flash point is the managers insistence that it’s two superstars will not be sold come January but Gazidis and others want some sort of recompense on the duo and has told Wenger that offers will be considered if the two players are still refusing to sign contract extensions.
This has apparently led to an exchange between the pair and increased the ongoing hostility, partly due to Wenger launching his own campaign to canvass fan support by declaring that he has no intention of selling. This puts the club in an awkward position if they want to reclaim part of their investment but Wenger is determined to make the fans aware that if Ozil and Sanchez depart, it’s not his doing.
The fact is that Arsenal are in disarray, the shareholders are at war, the Chief Executive and manager could quite happily lock the other in a basement miles from civilisation and the team is becoming unsurprisingly unsettled by it all. Wenger is becoming more isolated by the day and has suffered greatly since the departure of David Dein in 2007 as Toby Moses of the Guardian noted earlier this year:
“Dein’s functions were replaced to a degree but his role was split across numerous executives, none with his footballing nous, his feel for the club, or with the power base to push Wenger to strive for more. Ivan Gazidis arrived as the chief executive in 2009 – an appointment signed off by the manager.”
“The governance structure has to be questioned when the person supposedly in charge of the day-to-day running of the organisation joins on the say-so of somebody whose job they should be overseeing. The American was not a complete stranger to the sport but his familiarity with football comes from 14 years at MLS, perhaps a good grounding for growing the brand but not much help in negotiating the backrooms of European football.”
Gazidis is about self preservation and control, he isn’t a football man and is more of an interested onlooker. Wenger has spent time trying to build a club which reflected his vision and values. Say what you like about the Frenchman but he loves football and Arsenal football club, he has no time for accountants who know more about balance sheets than the intricate nature of the beautiful game.
The Manager still has the support of absent Stan but it is believed that the pressure of not competing at the top level is causing the American some concern. If the team fail it’s perceived to be the mangers fault but if the manager fails it’s the fault of the CEO and owner, neither of those are desperate for that kind of attention and while Stan can hide, Gazidis is less fortunate.
Something is due to give, it’s a situation that has been reaching a climax for two or three seasons but now change is inevitable in some form so take your pick from the options.
Usmanov buys out Kroenke and Wenger leaves. Gazidis leaves because of differences with the manager and owner and Wenger stays (or) Wenger leaves because he has lost support and his power base to the ambitious CEO.
Which ever one it is, hopefully, it will allow the club to finally get its act together and challenge for the major honours.
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