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The Controversy Behind The Appointment Of Raul Sanllehi As Arsenal’s Director of Football And Its Adverse Effects

Raul sanllehi, arsenal

Emery becomes a target for the media but Sanllehi seems to be invisible. With the media awash with transfer speculation, it came as something of a relief to come across a half decent rumour. One with absolutely no foundation and one which was probably misinterpreted from Unai Emery’s haphazard use of the English language.

It appears that the media are just waiting for the Spaniard’s slightest slip, to employ some sort of hidden meaning to his statements, especially when Arsene Wenger’s name is involved.

Apparently, Emery was recalling his visit to the Emirates for the job of Arsenal coach, where he avoided promises of delivering titles but at the same time he stated he would get the club in a position to be compete. Hardly hold the press stuff is it ?

Logically, his pledge was the minimal requirement for a successful interview. Then, during the process, the Arsenal board apparently divulged the absence of Wenger’s “competitive gene”

Obviously at this moment in this fanciful yarn, I naturally laughed aloud at their inappropriate use of Dickensian candour. Even the Arsenal board, an eclectic mix of cash obsessed misfits wouldn’t be so blatantly disrespectful to the man who redefined the club and dragged it kicking and screaming from the doldrums of the early 90’s to become Premier league champions. Yes, they would, we all know that !

The article in El Mundo quotes Emery as saying,

“I do not promise titles, I promise to compete. What Wenger did in this club was very big. He managed to give a touch of quality to make the game more fluid and colourful, but little by little he lost the competitive gene.

“That is what was transmitted to me and what I was hired for when I interviewed Raul Sanllehi and the owners.”

There’s that name again, whenever something isn’t quite right at Arsenal, The name Sanllehi seems to appear in some context. He’s becoming the equivalent on a tenacious boil that keeps pustulating. A source of constant irritation from which there is no escape.

I’d forgotten how nice it was to dislike Stan Kroenke from a distance but this guy feels like he’s an intruder at the family Bar-B-Que.
He is in fact, nothing more than a long distance foot pedal for Kroenke to utilise when it comes to bad decisions and news.

Much has been made of the role of Sanllehi behind the scenes of a successful Barcelona side but let’s shed some light on the subject. Firstly Raul is not a natural football man, to the contrary. Sanllehi has a BA in Economics, Marketing and Finance from Guilford College and an MBA &PDG from IESE Business School of the University of Navarra.

His initial introduction to Sport was in marketing (ring any bells). Sanllehi joined Barcelona in 2008 as a marketing manager but surprisingly assumed the mantle of Director of Professional Football

It was said that Sanllehi got the post because of his ability to attract finance from Nike for the Catalan club’s expansion plans. The success story on the field continued but behind the scenes, it was allegedly Sanllehi, who was guilty of leading the charge and in the process making a number of poor decisions.

The wrong players were leaving to be replaced by expensive mistakes like Zlatan Ibrahimović, who regardless of his talent, could upset God on a Sunday and cause an argument in an empty room. Sanllehi was also thought to be responsible for offloading Samuel Eto’o, which came as a shock at the time.

In the meantime, Zlatan caused unrest and constantly clashed with manager Pep Guardiola, labelling his manager “a coward” . By way of contrast, Eto’o went on to win the treble at Inter Milan.

Have you ever asked yourself why Barcelona would let Sanllehi go ? Surely, they would have tied Sanllehi down to a lucrative contract because he was so important. Well, it turns out he wasn’t that crucial to the project, they still managed to pick up a La Liga title and the Supercopa de España this season.


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Anyone thinking that Barcelona’s semi final exit from the champions league could have been avoided if Sanllehi was still in his expensive swivel chair, would be massively mistaken. Barcelona’s exit was just football blowing a raspberry at us all, for thinking that the tie against Liverpool was over.

Barcelona’s loss would appear to be Arsenal’s latest screw up. The North London club have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot in recent years. They got rid of Wenger who had too much power and Gazidis who wanted more control, to replace them with a pair of commercial wizards, who like Gazidis have a passion for spread sheets, not for football.

In the final analysis, Arsenal’s performance next season will be based on their transfer dealings and ability to compete and Sanllehi will again, one assumes, be unfairly credited with any degree of success but by the same token, he will manage to expertly to take cover should it all go wrong.

The Highbury Flyer
Anti Kroenke , anti Gazidis but always a gooner. Still wishes he could watch from the stands at the Highbury library.

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