The Enigma that is Ivan Gazidis
By *PG*
Tuesday 23 Jul 2013 11:41:00
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As I write this, I look out of the window and see a lovely summers day, A quick walk around the office brings me to a vantage point upon which on a clear day you can see the Emirates Stadium, a place you’d hope given the comments of the Clubs Chief Executive Officer would be a hive of activity, a revolving door of players who are deemed surplus to requirements and players who are the much anticipated “Marquee” signings, experienced players that know how to win games.

Then the reality dawns, silence, an eerie almost deafening silence. Nothing, nada, perhaps the odd tumbleweed floating past in the summer breeze.

For me and naturally I am a worrier, this is a concern. Much was spoken about the need to avoid mistakes, the mistake in question being the August 31st supermarket sweep, the intention to sign quality players, early, a statement of intent. A shot across the bows to our rivals if you will.

To date amongst a flurry of speculation, we have signed a young injury prone Frenchman. Perhaps I am being harsh judging him before a ball has been kicked in anger, however with our past history with injuries and rehabilitation (or lack of) you can forgive my concern.

When Ivan Gazidis gave the almost infamous interview about marquee signings, the press jumped on it, as did the fans, rightly so, at last a positive, a turning of the corner, a summer of anticipation and potentially a return to the days where trophies not profit heralded success.

A headlining making interview however for me, all was not what it seems. Published on the Daily Mail website was the full transcript of the interview and when you read it, it can be interpreted in such a way whereby there are no plans to change the current status quo.

Here are some quotes from that interview:

“We want to be a club that is competing at the very top of the game and that means competing to win the Premier league and competing to win the Champions League”

Then he goes on to discuss last season’s pointy tally

“We finished on 73 points, that is more than last year and more again than the season before that when we had Van Persie, Fabregas & Nasri”

That to me is a ridiculous statement, it’s no use getting 1 extra point on last season when the league winners gained an extra 15+ points, your benchmark is how close you are to the winners, or at least it should be.

Another positive quote was “I think we have done a terrific job creating the financial platform. The club can take a lot of credit from that but it really is time now for us to turn that into sporting success and that is what everybody here is focussed on”

However, then normal service starts to resume “The fact is this year we are beginning to see something we have been planning for some time, which is the escalation in our financial firepower” Now the key point “And that is something that is going to happen partly into next season, its part way available now in the summer but the following season as well”

 He then moves on to talk (or not in this case) about potential targets and says of Arsene Wenger “he is pretty blind to price tags, he look at what he sees with his eyes and makes judgements based on that”

You could argue that is Arsenes Achilles heel given his track record of not seeing things, however in all seriousness a price tag should be considered and shouldn’t be blindly dismissed. We live in a world of supply and demand, prices reflect that and this may be a reason why we have, in the past missed out on players for the sake of a few million pounds, only to watch them flourish at other clubs. To put it simply, if you want a quality product you have to pay the going rate, that certainly isn’t exclusive to Football.

The interview then moves on the Arsene’s socialist wage structure which, if you believe what you read has been criticised by the very same Mr Gazidis who said this:

“We have outperformed our spend in virtually any metric you can look at, consistently for the last 15 years, it’s an extraordinary record. So we are doing something right in the way we spend although it may frustrate some people”

He then goes on, “It doesn’t mean if we had the opportunity to sign somebody we thought was extra special at a price we thought made sense that we wouldn’t do it”

This is an interesting statement and one I don’t believe, certainly there have been quite a few players Arsenal have been linked with, a deal agreed only for Wenger to intervene and stall it because of wages. Juan Mata was a good example, Higuain another however that was more to do with Madrid hiking up the price at the 11th hour which I have with Arsenal sympathy for, but they, as the selling club, are entitled to do so. Arsenal in this case are their own worst enemy, if you bleat about how rich you are in the Press, of course selling clubs will raise their prices.

He then talks about acquiring players at the “right value” and then goes on to say “I am not quite so sure it is going to be a free spending bonanza that you are envisaging”

The interview transcript then wraps up in reply to the question “There must be a need to get the right players in now” with “We’ve got an important opportunity. We’ve got the right guy in charge to make those decisions but you can never guarantee things will work out the way you want in football”

So what to make of all this? Reading between the lines, there are 2 people at Arsenal who clearly and exclusively pull the strings, Arsene Wenger and Stan Kronke, Ivan for all intents and purposes seems to be a mouth piece and nothing more, a polished, accomplished man you’d more expect to be fronting a PR company than working in the role of Chief Executive.

It recent years, our rivals have successfully, quickly and quietly completed transfer deals for thier targets and things have worked out "the way you want" for them. It takes willingness, desire, an understanding of the market in which you operate and the right price, all of these, Arsenal have struggled with in recent years, a common observation made by many blaming the departure of David Dein for this.

It is clear there is 100% trust, almost blind faith in Wenger and that no one calls his judgement into question, If Arsene doesn’t think a player is worth the price tag its simple, no deal. All the while this is the case, nothing will change, Arsene believes his way is not only the right way but the only way, a man who believes you should never spend more than you earn but at the same time refuses to speculate to accumulate. No one wants to see the club spend beyond its means, but to have a much publicised £70m transfer budget and not spend it based on one man’s ethics is to me, a dereliction of duty and certainly not in the best sporting interest of Arsenal Football Club.







8 Responses to "The Enigma that is Ivan Gazidis"
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23 Jul 2013 17:05
The point about Gazidis' interview and statement some weeks ago was to put the public spotlight on Wenger ... so he had nowhere to go. lIke.... " We have the money, Arsene, and the Board is directing you to spend it on top flight players ... which is not what you prefer to do." The response so far has been names like Rooney and Suarez ... who are not obtainable. Every Arsenal fan in the whole world knows we need a 2nd keeper, a strong dfm and a serious goal scorer up front. What we have so far is a couple more Wenger type youngsters (who might or might not be great one day) and, apparently, another young, skilful, diminutive, bloody winger. I read this as an internal policy struggle and the outcome will be both interesting ... and crucial.
23 Jul 2013 12:56
When D Dein was involved in transfers in and out there were never any problems. Since Gasidis arrived and joined forces with the other tight wad accountant Wenger, the penny pinching began. Losing out on important buys for the sake of a few pounds. Money in the bank, but no trophies PS. Look at some of the crap we have bought !!!
23 Jul 2013 12:52
Why does everyone think we are making a profit? We aren't we haven't for years we have to actually sell our best players to appear to have made a profit because our operational profit has been dropping since 2005/6. These guys are taking the piss big time and a vast majority lap it up its pathetic. If we had not sold RVP ad song last year we would have made a loss. Cesc and Nasri the year before etc..... They tell you they know what they are doing but they forget to tell you is that they can't actually sell their product at a profit. Any other business would fire them as hey require the selling of the companies assets to over inflate the share price in order to make an american think he has a good investment. You as a customer ohh sorry I mean fan, you are not their priority. They only care what Kroneke thinks, thats it, period. As a fan you want a marquee signing for the football and success of the club. It also makes sense from a business perspective as the eventual and inevitable drop in operational profits and the lack of assets to sell means that an investment in the core business of the club is not just wanted it is needed. If AFC fail to increase spending to improve operational profits then they can be called out for incompetence and neglectful management. This means that the argument that we don't spend because we are a well run club is a complete myth and the Arsenal Supporter Trust need to understand this and actually do something about it. I almost joined the AST until I realised that they only care about their seat at the table and not the fans. If you want to see change then pressure must be applied in the right way. Just telling them to spend is the complete opposite to what should be done. You make a business case in order to point out how underinvestment it destroying not only the football but also the business. I would happily write it but I don't think anyone would read it.
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23 Jul 2013 12:32
Great article PG - my only comment is around Wenger being blind to the price tag. I don't believe this to be the case at all. If he were, he would find a player that he thinks is special and can add something to the squad and buy, irrespective of the cost. I am not, for one minute, suggesting he should be blaze and throw our money around with complete and utter disregard, but it is clear his model of valuing a player is fundamentally flawed. This is not only evident against the selling club, but equally with other clubs interested in buying the same player. This stubbornness will ultimately be Wenger's downfall. He has the opportunity to do something special (again), but I fear his arrogance will get the better of him again.
23 Jul 2013 12:22
Your CommentGazidis isn't on holiday - he's in the Far East with Wenger and the team isn't he ?
23 Jul 2013 12:20
Your CommentOur soi disant scout, Dick Law, is more of an enigma in my view. Gazidis saying we would spend big this summer was him throwing Wenger in front of the bus but Wenger seems to have rolled out of the way. As usual.
23 Jul 2013 12:18
I have to say that this particular piece is extremely well thought out and structured, unlike some of your rants on Twitter ;-) It does seem that the club is willing in some ways to back AW in the Transfer Window and that the stumbling block is the wages again and again. This is the frustrating part of the whole process for fans looking for the club to invest in the best to make the club successful. Its like everything in life you need to invest in the future and sometimes that means spending more than you want to to ensure you get where you want to be. I feel that AW is nervous of joining thebbog spenders like Chelsea and Man City just in case it goes horribly wrong and the club and fan base turns against him. as you know I have been a strong supporter of AW but not the board but......if AW fails to bring in the required quality that this team needs to fulfill its undoubted promise then my support will waiver and fail. I am hopeful that he will find the courage to give these "marquee" signings the salaries that they require but only time will tell...Mr Wenger over to you
23 Jul 2013 12:15
I believe Gazidis is currently enjoying his holiday.
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