Arsenal: The guns have gone silent - Part Two (The management)
To take the point further from my last article, I feel Arsenal have the right philosophy and long term strategy in place. The next important aspect we need to carefully look into is the management because it is these people who determine the capability of the club to translate business effectiveness into success on the pitch.
Now most fans would know about the ownership status and the current board at Arsenal. Stan Kroenke lords over 60 per cent stake while Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov commands another 29 per cent. This fractured holding with two men who don’t see eye-to-eye has the fans split into different camps. Some believe in single consolidated ownership while others prefer plurality. Both have its pros and cons and neither is the clearly established model best suited for the club.
However at the moment it is Korenke and his team that runs the show advocating the self-sustaining corporate model with Ivan Gazidis, at the helm. Wenger too has been a vocal proponent of this model and feels that football clubs, like any other business, should behave responsibly by matching expenditure with income. This thought line has however heightened the concern amongst many fans that the club has its focus more on business matters than anything else.
The truth is it needs a fine balance between business and sports to run such a large institution successfully. In times of transition and global financial turmoil, keeping the purse strings tight is the smarter idea albeit without overlooking the core objective (football).
But, in the eyes of most fans, with this approach the club seems to have compromised on the sporting side. The clear feeling is that, it hasn’t been aggressive enough to acquire necessary talents needed to challenge for honors and the barren spell has only strengthened this fear. Naturally patience has started to run thin.
On the positive side though, due to this prudent approach, the club has managed to keep its head above water while being reasonably competitive. Most other clubs around the world would vouch for this approach lest they are bank rolled by sugar daddies with pit less resource base.
So, with the sustainability model in place, we need to ask ourselves, what best can be achieved? And what would be considered success?
To my mind, for a club of Arsenal's stature, success should mean playing consistently at the top level and laying hands on the occasional piece of silverware. Though the club has consistently been amongst the top four in England it has failed to stack up any trophies (Arsenal has played three finals in the past six years). Thus, through these difficult years, I feel the club has been moderately successful and most people would agree with it given any benchmark.
To those who think otherwise, I would ask, does winning the Olympic bronze medal not constitute success or is it only gold that is deemed fit for accolades? I am proud that the club has remained rooted to its philosophy even when many have questioned its ability to compete while playing entertaining football. The team has shown exceptional quality at times (think of Barcelona in 2011 and Milan this year) for which I thank the players and Wenger.
Therefore, with strong foundations laid down and financial matters in control the club now needs to invest its resources to strengthen the football team and take it a notch higher. Now that the summer has begun, let us hope the wheels are set in motion to add players in two-three key positions that will see Arsenal challenge for trophies again.
Calling all Arsenal fans: Do you agree with Shub? Are Arsenal on the right path or do they need to splash the cash? What would you describe success for the club? Do the Arsenal board have it right? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.