On Thursday night, Ivan Gazidis sat down at an end of season event where fans had a chance to ask questions. He also took the opportunity to pass along some sentiments from the board of directors.
However, much to the chagrin of gooners everywhere, Gazidis could not find anything new to say.
In the opening statement, Ivan Gazidis basically recapped what a bad season it was, while trying to put a silver lining on it.
We were in contention and I think most of the fanbase and certainly we felt like there were a lot of possibilities in the season. We then had a patch for a variety of reasons, which we’re still analysing, where things were really bad. Arsene made some tactical decisions, then we finished the season strongly and we won a trophy.
He then sewed the seeds of support for Stan Kroenke, the not so popular owner.
If we look over the last five years there have been some pretty dramatic changes and we’ve more than doubled our football support staff…we acquired a sports analytics company a number of years ago…invested in top class personnel in the fitness side and psychology…we’ve brought in three times as many scouts as four years ago…invested £40 million in London Colney and Hale End too.
And, as everyone expected, defended Arsene Wenger‘s new contract.
The first thing to say is that it wasn’t a sentimental decision, it was a mutual one. It was made against the ambition to win the Premier League…I know there’s a lot of disagreements about this in the fan-base. The board is conscious of that but the board has to focus on what is the right decision for the football club.
The fans then had a chance to ask Gazidis their specific questions. The first cut right to the bone, questioning the executive as to the perceived lack of effort from players during the season.
The answer, unfortunately, was much less direct than the question.
I was at Palace away and believe me that was a pretty miserable experience for everybody. In professional football what I’ve learnt over time is that what goes into a performance can sometimes be a little deceptive as to what happens on the field.
The next fan then questioned the toxic atmosphere surrounding the team in the preceding months.
That’s heartfelt and I don’t think you’re alone in that feeling. It doesn’t make me proud or happy to acknowledge that. I’m conscious that we have a lack of unity at the club and dissatisfaction. Over the last four or five years we’ve done a lot of things to push the club forward and we’re run on a model with values that all of you and certainly I should be proud of. I want the club to be successful and I want to deliver trophies, a sense of pride in what this club does and how it does it.
I’m sure the fan was pleased Gazidis realized that there is a problem, but less so that the team doesn’t have a plan to fix itself.
The next fan asked THE question on everyone’s lips; if Kroenke doesn’t want to win trophies, or cash out on the massive offer from Alisher Usmanov, then what does he want from Arsenal?
I don’t really understand the argument that Stan Kroenke is only making money
Understandably, this fleck of ignorance was met with jeers from the crowd.
The final few questions lacked the intensity of the first few; one fan wanted to know why Wenger was only offered a two year deal, one who questioned the board’s loyalties, one who wanted to know if the board unanimously agreed to keep Wenger on, and one who wanted to know more about ticket prices for reserve matches.
Then, just like his opening statement, Gazidis fell back on tired words during his closing statement.
We’re working really hard. I was telling somebody that I haven’t had an hour of my time since the end of the season where I wasn’t working on club business. There is an awful lot going on. You will see some of the product of that work on the player front and behind the scenes. All of that work is geared towards getting from 75 points to 85 and more, to win the Premier League.
We want to generate some of the pride that I am ashamed to say many of you are not feeling. The goal is to win things and add to the history of this football club and do it in a way which is consistent with club values. The people that work here care about this football club, we do and we want it to be successful.
So, just like every year since Kroenke took over, the club absolutely swears it is doing it’s best, even though it looks otherwise. The only question that remains is, does anyone still believe him?
All the answers he gave sounded like they came from various soundbites from his eight or so years at the club. No new information, nothing to point to to say ‘this is our salvation’, and no true clarity about the club’s direction.
What do you think about what Gazidis had to say? Do you believe that him and the others executives are doing a good job? Why or why not?
Let me know in the comments below