When I wrote yesterday’s blog about the board taking the lead on an overhaul of Arsenal’s structure, we were not expecting things to happen so quickly.
We had heard rumours that Arsenal were playing a management restructure at the top, but we thought this might occur after the new season restarts so as not to disrupt this summers transfer business. Instead Raul Sanllehi left the club with immediate effect.
Why did Raul leave?
Well we really don’t know.
There are plenty of accusations on twitter, including that he profited from the Nicolas Pepe deal. There is no evidence that this is true.
But what is clear that since Arsene Wenger left, the club has been dysfunctional at the top.
Wenger ran everything at the club. Fingers in every pies. It was his overlord way of running the club that saw it successful.
But it was also the power he wielded that saw the club enter a downward spiral, as he became accountable to no one.
Arsenal needed refreshing. We needed a reboot. And the club decided to go down the root completely opposite to Wenger and bring in multiple people to run things.
Firstly we had Ivan Gazidis as CEO.
Under Wenger, Gazidis had very little to do with the footballing side of the club. He was mainly dealing with the commercial side.
With Wenger gone, Arsenal firstly bought in Raul Sanllehi as Head of Football Relations and Sven Mislintat as Head of Recruitment.
This left Gazidis in charge of the commercial side, Sanllehi in charge of the football side and Mislintat in charge of the recruitment. The Head Coach (ie Unai Emery) only had to focus on coaching and picking the team.
When Gazidis left, Sanllehi was promoted as was Vinai Venkatesham. The long time Arsenal employee taking over Gazidis’s role over seeing the commercial side of the club.
Then the battle of egos began as Arsenal transfer decisions went from a committee of 3 to a committee of two. What happens when they disagree?
Well when Sanllehi and Mislintat disagrees, Sanllehi establishes his seniority and Mislintat left.
Recently Mislintat labelled the clubs recruitment department “bloated”. He also said that the clubs structure was “dysfunctional”.
The actions taken by the board – making many scouts redundant and saying goodbye to Sanllehi would indicate that they agree.
When Mislintat left, Arsenal added Edu to the clubs upper structure as Technical Director.
I as it just a case of too many cooks?
We had Sanllehi, Edu and an outspoken manager in Mikel Arteta who wanted to “do things his way”.
Arteta is a strong minded character. He knows what he wants to do. How he wants to manage. The players he needs.
Was there a conflict between Arteta and Sanllehi in the same way Emery and Sanllehi disagrees over players?
Sanllehi reportedly over ruled Emery a few times on players, and the result was Emery didn’t have the squad he wanted and got sacked. The board backed Sanllehi.
But this time it felt different.
Arteta got his way with David Luiz’s new contract and the signing of Willian. The board backed Arteta above Sanllehi.
It fees like the board want to put Arteta front and centre of Arsenal Football Club. That Lord Harris of Peckham, Ken Friar and Tim Lewis see him as a long term manager.
Once the decision is made that Arteta is the most important man at the club, you then need other employees to work alongside him, not work against him.
Arteta and Edu have a very good relationship. Both former Arsenal players. Both central midfielders. Same mentality on how to ply a game. They seem to work well together.
That left Sanllehi as the odd man out.
He is the one that doesn’t have a history with Arsenal, that works in a different way to Arsenal. He wasn’t really an Arsenal man.
The promotion of Vinai is also something that should be shouted about.
The British born Indian is well respected throughout football, and at just 39 (yes, he had a hard paper round), Arsenal have a very youthful looking management team.
There could be more Senior back office Arsenal employees to leave in the coming weeks.
After years of criticism of the board, asking if they care, it is good to see them take action.
The decision on Sanllehi was made by Lord Harris of Peckham, Ken Friar and Tim Lewis.
They are going all in on the Edu / Arteta partnership.