Stan Kroenke must feel like he has a bad toothache even though the tooth is missing. When the Dark Lord (Gazidis) headed out the exit door and Raul Sanllehi was appointed, wonky Kroenke must have thought that it was only a matter of time until the Arsenal juggernaut was roadworthy again.
A not inconsiderable top-up of £130m of talent must have caused a slight ripple of optimism at wonky Kroenke towers that allowed the board to recline in their leather chairs whilst contemplating a return to the promised land. But they forgot a few golden rules in the process. Coaches are best placed to make the correct team appointments but even more importantly, it has to be the right coach.
Unai Emery wasn’t the right coach and he subsequently flew off with his particular brand of incomprehensible niceness to lick his considerable wounds. The players and hierarchy combined to apportion blame and avoid criticism, while the Spaniard’s last task was to walk the plank over the stormy seas offering one last ‘good evening’ before plunging to his doom.
Mikel Arteta arrived and there seemed to be a little hope but too much hope is a dangerous thing and if we thought the board and the coaching team were going to start singing from the same song sheet, we were wrong. When normal people make a mistake, they tend to not commit that error of judgement again, but Sanllehi still has the reigns and Kroenke allows him carte blanche.
Emery wanted N’zonzi, Sanllehi got Torreira. Emery wanted Zaha, Sanllehi signed Pepe. Arteta now knows that it doesn’t really matter whom he admires or wants, Raul will buy him a version of the same player, like the Aldi equivalent of a well-known brand of chocolate.
Please note at the time of writing this, none of the choices made by Sanllehi have performed consistently well. Fast forward to the present day and Arsenal’s woes continue. A club with players surplus to requirements, which is struggling to extend contracts, finding it difficult to secure additional players of quality and worse still, they remain low on funds without a committed and passionate chairman, not to mention, a careless owner like Kroenke.
You could write a comedy about how inept this great club has become. It has been reduced to the role of participants but without any expectation of winning. It has become a joke in football circles with supporters of other less thoroughbred clubs mocking the way it’s run.
Its speed of descent is enough to cause an embolism and its chances of recovery fade with each episode of incompetence. Arsenal have seen a succession of inexperienced non-football men in charge of the club in recent years, most of whom are happy to present it as a commercial brand but without having the necessary on-field pedigree.
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The football that thrilled a generation of 90’s fans is now consigned to memories and dreams without any chance of being repeated. Let’s put the record straight, shall we? Arsenal could change tomorrow if the Will was there.
The club have around £100m of players that they can sell off to fund the acquisition of Thomas Partey. Neighbours Spurs have borrowed £175m which has to be repaid in 2021, so Arsenal could loan half that amount to facilitate two quality additions to the squad.
Alternatively, Stan Kroenke’s company KSE could stop charging a consultancy fee and use the £3m he has charged in the past and apply it to the summer transfer kitty. Of course, we don’t know if this is still the case because Kroenke isn’t accountable to anyone anymore.
The American owner could seek an interest-free loan for its summer dealings because he’s not shy when borrowing for his American interests. His loan spree is estimated to stand at a cool $1 billion and his latest loan from the NFL was a measly $500 million.
Now let’s go mad and suggest that Kroenke even dips into his own $10 billion fortune to fund transfer activity directly and Sanllehi does what the coach says. Unlikely, I know. The truth is that the excuses are wearing thin, the promise of top-flight football at the Emirates hasn’t really transpired, whilst at the same time the team that inhabits it has become mediocre.
The Managing Director at the time of the move, Keith Edelman explained the financial benefits of the Club’s move, which he said would allow Arsenal to sustain their competitiveness at the highest level:
“Our aim is to be a leading European club and, once we get into the new stadium, we will be in that position. It is very income-generous to us,”
The players left and were never replaced. The investment ceased and incoming funds paid off loans. Edelman was full of shit!
Looking forward, Mikel Arteta has support where it counts within the fan base, but he needs the support of his board including Sanllehi and and club owner Kroenke.