As Arsenal’s pre-season tour continues, so does that of Ivan Gazidis. The Gunners’ chief executive has been speaking to the media again, this time emphasising that Arsene Wenger’s men need to win major titles (via The New York Times).
Gazidis, one of the founding executives of America’s Major League Soccer, joined Arsenal in 2009. Currently stateside with the North London club ahead of a friendly in California with the MLS All-Star team, the 51-year-old says he has ‘mixed feelings’ on the match because wants both the US team and the Gunners to win. But on the subject of Arsenal’s ambitions for the upcoming Premier League campaign, he is clear on his position.
“For us, there is a sense of disappointment and frustration that last season we finished in second place. Second place isn’t what we’re aiming for. We’re aiming to win it,” he told The New York Times, “Achieving consistency provides us with the opportunity to compete at that level and try to win it every year, and that’s obviously a good thing. But that’s not our objective. Our objective is to win the major trophies.”
Certainly Gazidis seems to talk the talk. But as everyone knows and has been saying for some time now, if Arsenal are to ‘win it’ as the chief executive puts it, they must invest in some high-quality talent. They especially need the kind of talent which is actually adept at getting the ball in the back of the net, otherwise known as a striker! On this point the South Africa native continues to toe the club line.
“We’re still active in the market, as are most other clubs, and if we find opportunities that our manager believes can improve our squad and add something to it, we’re certainly going to take those steps,” he said, “But in terms of this week, I don’t think there will be any radical surprises.”
Not a lot to go on there unfortunately, for those of us who were hoping for some juicy gossip. On the point of big-money transfers though, the chief executive believes financial clout is only going to count for less going forward. That is unlikely to go down well with critics who believe Arsenal’s lack of success has been down to their unwillingness to dig into their deep pockets over the years.
“In the past, the big clubs could financially bully the smaller clubs — it would be unthinkable that a smaller club would be able to hold on to its best player if Manchester United or Arsenal came knocking at the door,” says Gazidis, “That dynamic is changing. And so the constraints within the Premier League are less and less about pure finances, and more and more relatively important become things like how well you identify players, how well you develop players, what kind of sports science you have, your analytics, your psychology.”
Could Gazidis possibly be right? Or is he just trying to justify the club’s transfer market philosophy under Arsene Wenger? As with all good analytical questions, the answer is a bit of both.
Arguably, Jamie Vardy’s rejection of a move from Leicester (a ‘small’ club) to Arsenal earlier this year illustrates the point, even though the Foxes did win the Premier League. Maybe Wenger has been ahead of his time in refusing to pay exorbitant sums of money for players. Then again, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is one definition of madness.