Josh Kroenke came out in defence of his fathers ownership of Arsenal, with a slightly contrived but seemingly passionate and positive response. He covered commitment, desire, success and passion but the conversation was inevitably geared towards transfer activity and when asked about Arsenal’s plans, Kroenke junior said in a rather low key voice,
It had been a predictably slow and uninspiring transfer window for Arsenal up until that point and fans were concerned that if they didn’t show their disapproval of Kroenke’s running of the club, the transfer activity would be minimal.
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) July 15, 2019
There was lots of talk about Wilfred Zaha, Kieran Tierney but few expected a player of Nicolas Pepe’s stature to be a target for the supposedly cash strapped club. Within days, some Arsenal fans were claiming victory and that the “We care, do you” campaign had forced the Kroenke Family into a corner but I’m afraid that is a fanciful notion at best.
The open letter didn’t hurt the cause obviously, but at a commercial level, Arsenal had to reinforce and add quality to push for Champions league football. Arsenal’s bigwigs are less concerned by the premier league, although a higher position of course means more revenue but they can’t afford to go another year without cashing in on a champions league ticket.
The growing unrest of the fans was duly noted but it was expected that Arsenal would be active, although few realised that Pepe was in that equation or that a bold move for his signature was even feasible.
However, let’s rewind a little to last seasons disappointing finish in the league. Arsenal missed out on a CL slot by one point. One point ! With a shocking defence and deficits in other key areas such as the flanks and in the heart of midfield.
They weren’t far off the pace of Chelsea and Spurs and had they not imploded at a key stage due to those shortages in vital positions, they would be traveling to more glamorous locations this term, rather than having to ping pong their way to the farthest reaches of the globe to destinations such as Baku.
On that subject, let me just quickly say that Arsenal were beaten by a distinctly poor Chelsea, who only played to their potential for 30 minutes and that the quality of Eden Hazard made the difference.
The gulf between Arsenal and their two nearest rivals was clearly minimal but investment was required and money had to be made available.
Arsenal fans reaction to a loss in Europe’s second string cup was understandable but for Emery’s first season in charge, he had milked every ounce of effort from a substandard squad and losing the final only served to underpin the need for new players.
Losing wasn’t such a bad thing if you look at it from a different angle, because if Emery had achieved champions league qualification and finished third or fourth, the Spaniard may have had to go another season at Arsenal with a squad full of driftwood and second rate players. The fact that the clear out started before the season ended was evidence of Arsenal’s new found football philosophy.
The #WeCareDoYou campaign was aimed at a variety of issues at the club, it was never about spending big on transfers. It did mention spending money efficiently on fees, wages & getting rid of deadwood, because this hadn't previously been achieved. Signs of incoming players do >
— Prisoner_No_Six (@SixPrisoner) July 30, 2019
The only travesty is that it’s taken so long to oust Gazidis and a Wenger past his prime to start rebuilding. Turning back the clocks to 2004, that would have been the perfect time to look at new business models and players but that’s how long it’s taken to wake up and smell the coffee !
On the ‘new business model’ that we keep hearing about, I’m a sceptical kind of guy when it comes to Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkateshem. I’d seen and heard nothing to suggest that were an upgrade on Ivan Gazidis at Arsenal and although their collective CV’s look good, there’s a suggestion that they aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
Sanllehi made a career from the successes of Barcelona but the truth is he caused tension and friction behind the scenes and sold off assets that were never replaced. Had he been that good, why would they allow him to leave one of the biggest clubs in the planet.
The truth is that his departure was by mutual consent, which allowed both to part amicably, which is unusual in this day and age but this hyped up legacy we keep hearing about isn’t what it appears to be.
Vinai Venkateshem carries no such expectations at Arsenal because he was drafted in to develop commercial opportunities, create global partnerships and maintain and expand the club’s business strategies. Which basically means he is involved in everything other than team matters.
He’s the cocktail waitress at the dinner party, the corner man clutching the spit bucket in the boxers corner but he’s also the razzmatazz of the operation compared to Raúl Sanllehí who lacks any form of necessary umpf.
With Stan at the helm at Arsenal, the two have nodded like novelty dogs in the back of a vintage car on a long journey over bumpy terrain and it seemed to everyone that nothing would change.
What is extremely noticeable is the emergence of Josh Kroenke from the shadows of his father and rather than hand the credit to Sanllehi and Venkateshem, let’s look at the the heir apparent.
There’s no doubt that Josh Kroenke will be taking up his permanent position at Arsenal shortly, as I have been saying for the best part of a year and that may be extremely good news for Arsenal fans.
Yes, there will always be some with reservations because of the overseas ownership of Arsenal but I’m more inclined to be exited by a Kroenke that isn’t Stan and one that seems to thrive on the cut and thrust of sport.
The jury is still out on the new structure at Arsenal, the direction of the club, the future transfers and quality of the performances but success makes most things easier to swallow.
My take on the Nicolas Pépé transfer is the traditional English media aren’t being briefed first. They were deliberately used as a smokescreen for the £40m Arsenal budget narrative with Josh Kroenke, Edu & Raul Sanllehi acutely aware this would be a summer to "be excited" about. pic.twitter.com/MmDrn0AtgA
— Michael Gravesande (@OldBlackHack) July 27, 2019
An overseas owner that has a club which barely makes the top four is likely to get continuous criticism but throw in quality players and win something in style and suddenly perspectives change dramatically.
Manchester United’s Glazer Family were the devil incarnate but they kept spending and with Ferguson they were an irresistible partnership. Ferguson collected the trophies and the Glazers spent the money where Ferguson wanted.
It’s only now the success has dried up that the anti Glazer brigade are back in action despite investing over £700 million. United fans don’t know how lucky they’ve been and who’s to say Arsenal haven’t got it right….. finally.