It’s Nuffin’ To Do With Me, Guv

This morning, Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s Chief Executive, proudly told a supporter’s forum that his club are the 6th richest in the world.

Under his guidance the club has consistently made money for the owners and shareholders, despite the expenses of building a brand new stadium and paying for some of the most expensive football players in the world.

A few hours later, his team were lucky to get an injury time equaliser to rescue a point at home to Hull City.

Having fallen behind early in the 2nd half, Arsenal failed to create a single shot on target for 40 minutes. Many of the fans were left wondering why the manager hadn’t used his full complement of 3 substitutes to try and win the game. The reason he didn’t, one assumes, is that he looked at what was available to him and decided that they weren’t good enough.

Mikel Arteta – a holding midfielder who was just back from injury.
Tomáš Rosický – a 34 year old who was just back from injury.
Frances Coquelin – a defensive midfielder who has failed to make an impression in 6 years at the club.
Semi Ajayi – a 20 year old defender who has not yet played a single game for the first team.
Damián Martínez – a 3rd choice goalkeeper.

You could see his point.

Arsenal – the club that this week was widely criticised for having the highest ticket prices in the country, the club that regularly boasts of its riches, the club that recently spent £35m on Alexis Sanchez and £40m on Mesut Özil had run out of viable options that might be able to win a home game against Hull.

It is the middle of October. We have played 8 League games. But the cupboard is already bare.

Wenger Out. Ah yes, that old chestnut.

In a week when the Chief Executive and Chairman both admitted, during the AGM, that the club is effectively run by Arsène Wenger, one has to wonder if sacking the manager of the football team might not be the correct course of action.

If this is indeed the case – and for the purposes of this hypothesis, I will put to one side the (albeit cynical) possibility that these announcements are made in order to discredit the man in charge, fuelling the increasingly-held opinion that the fault of the current malaise lies with the manager – then there are only two explanations.

  1. These statements are not true and are being made in order to obscure the fact that the board are, in fact, responsible for most, if not all, of what goes on at the club.
  2. The board have allowed one of their employees to gain more power of the club than they do.

Oh dear, lads – it’s not looking good for you either way, is it?

In the last two years, the club have invested heavily in the playing staff. It’s not yet the end of October and we already have an injury list of 5 major players, with a predicted total time out of 9 months.

Is this the fault of Arsène Wenger? If not, who is at fault? Could it be the responsibility of those running the club? If everything that happens on the field of play is down to Wenger, what exactly do these people do for the club? Are they there just to ensure that the shareholders see huge dividends? In which other line of business do the people at the top delegate responsibility for everything to the manager of one part of the company, whose wages they pay? Either you run the club or you don’t. There are more problems at Arsenal at the moment than the lack of a defensive midfielder and not enough cover in defence. Arsène Wenger has his faults and the team may well benefit from someone new with a fresh outlook and some new ideas but whoever did take the job on would still have had to stand there today and choose from Arteta, Rosický, Coquelin, Ajayi and Martinez to try and steal a point from Hull City at home.

Ivan Gazidis took over as Chief Executive in 2009. The last time Arsenal came close to winning the league was 2008. Since then, the club has made huge profits and some of the owners have pocketed large amounts of money from their investment.

At some point, someone on the board of Arsenal Football Club has to accept responsibility for something. You can pull the wool over a lot of football fans’ eyes but not all of them. And there are plenty of people who can see that the manager is not the only one that needs to shoulder blame.