From Sweet Science:
Quick break from work.
Hope you are keeping warm and healthy?
What do you make of what Ivan Gazidis has done since the summer?
It looked for all the world that he clashed with Wenger last season, and Wenger won by getting a new contract.
But since the summer there have been several administrative changes at Arsenal.
Today they announced that Raul Sanllehi has joined as ‘Head of Football Relations.”
Last week Sven Mislintat arrived to take over as “Head of Player Recruitment” i.e. Chief Scout, with veteran Steve Rowley leaving.
Huss Fahmy arrived from Sky to take over player contracts, negotiator and contract man Dick Law has just left.
Darren Burgess came in the summer as “Director of Player Performance”, looking after a team of fitness, nutrition and health coaches.
That is a lot of new faces, a lot of fancy titles and a few potential clashes of interest, not least amongst the new arrivals and with existing back-room staff.
For all that Wenger declared in May that he did not know what “Director of Football” means, it seems as if Ivan has covered that role in all but name.
Is he continuing to play his long game?
I haven’t given up on Ivan, who has been playing a long game for a long time.
Most corporate lawyers hire staff who will be loyal to them and gradually build their internal empires. Ivan and Raul have been very close friends for several years.
We saw how recently how huffy our esteemed Professor was at suggestion that Ivan had a permanent desk at Colney.
There is an office he can use, said the long-serving Vice-Chancellor of Colney Sports University, and a desk he can use when he comes.
Colney has been packed full of incompetent time-servers for a decade or more. While the poor groundsmen, mostly married men with kids, work long hours. They were paid peanuts 10 years ago, so I hope their terms and conditions have improved.
Recently I was told French scout Gilles Grimandi reported that Kante was no better than the midfielders Wenger already had. Seriously!
Kante won the title for Leicester and then went to Stamford Bridge and won it for Chelsea, as I said he would.
France is a producer nation, like Spain and Brazil, one of the countries that creates superb footballers who emigrate to play for the top clubs in Europe.
But Varane and Griezmann play in Madrid, Pogba and Martial play in Manchester, while the brilliant young Mbappe plays for PSG now.
To be fair, Wenger wanted to sign three players in the World Cup summer of 2014: Sanchez, Debuchy and Griezmann.