‘Heads will roll’ is the often used cry after a major disaster and that’s exactly what has happened in Raul Sanllehi’s case after ‘Don’ Raul managed to deliver the club’s worst position in the Premier League for 25 years. I’m surprised it took the Stan Kroenke so long to realise that Raul Sanllehi was responsible for everything bad that was befalling our magnificent club and dismiss him of his services.
His fingerprints were all over every poor decision and bad transfer deal. His complete lack of understanding and total ineptitude was revealed during the Emery shambles, the Mislintat debacle, and Wenger’s dismissal. His handling of the Özil situation was a publicity nightmare that heaped huge embarrassment on the club and his tendency to get involved in on-the-field matters such as transfers was widely known.
At AD, we have covered Sanllehi’s reign in great detail and his exit isn’t a surprise. Back in July 2019, I wrote this in a blog, it’s as relevant now as it was then:
‘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.
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 spreadsheets, 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.’
Well, my friends, it appears that all this chaos is coming from a failed business model and can be traced back to Raul Sanllehi and Stan Kroenke. How either can show their face at the club and act like they have control is beyond me.
Sanllehi has been exposed for his failures and for his constant meddling in matters he doesn’t understand, associated with a role he could never fill. As football goes forward into the future, one can only hope that clubs give their managers/coaches the tools to manage and allow them to build the sides they want like Klopp and Guardiola.
Clubs like Arsenal that want a figurehead that can coach a team without the ability to select their personnel are doomed to failure. If it were my responsibility, Sanllehi would be served notice that ‘one more season of failure will cost him his job.’
We clearly probed a lot deeper than any other Arsenal blog into Arsenal’s saviour and decided that he was just Gazidis with a nice tan. Arsenal released the following statement regarding his departure:-
“On behalf of our owners, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Stan and Josh Kroenke said: “Raul has made a big contribution during his time with us and will always be part of the Arsenal family. We thank him for all his hard work and expertise and wish him every future success.”
“We have no doubt that Vinai is the right person to take the club forward. He has shown outstanding leadership during the current crisis and is held in high regard internally and externally. We know everyone will rally round him so we can move forward successfully.”
I beg to differ with the endorsement of Vinai Venkatesham. He’s another bean counter who has displayed no passion for the club beyond the constraints of spreadsheets. He’s not the man and never will be! Someone pick up the phone and call Marc Overmars to come home and sort out this mess.
The director of football at Ajax is highly regarded and had a glittering career as a player under Arsene Wenger. He knows the club, has a fabulous football brain and has contacts across the globe and if anyone can work solidly with Arteta, it’s the Dutchman.
It could be a fabulous era consisting of an all Arsenal trio of Overmars, Edu, and Arteta to lead the club back to the summit of English football. As for Sanllehi, he was no better than Ivan Gazidis. God, I miss David Dein, his love of the club, and his extensive knowledge of the game.
If Stan Kroenke wants a business model, something he talks about endlessly, perhaps he should find a partnership as good as the one shared by Wenger and Dein at the peak of Arsenal’s success, not lousy buffoons like Raul Sanllehi.