John Cross; Arsenal’s rebuild has begun, and will happen with or without Wenger

The rebuilding job has begun at Arsenal .

And Arsene Wenger knows that he must embrace the revolution and give up at least some of his power if he is to see out the final year of his contract.

Manager Wenger, now 68, has been king of all he surveys during 22 years at the club, but this month has illustrated that things are changing fast.

The behind-the-scenes make-up of the Gunners has changed in every regard — scouting, recruitment and even the training ground.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis has his own office at their London Colney HQ, head of recruitment Sven Mislintat is taking a greater role on transfers and Barcelona’s former director of football Raul Sanllehi starts his job in earnest on Thursday.

Some of Arsenal’s performances on the pitch have been all too painfully familiar, most recently the sorry capitulation on a wet Tuesday night in Swansea.

But the club itself is adopting a new look to try to change all that and are clearly convincing the necessary people that they are moving in the right direction, because they are making big statements.

The record £56million deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang , the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and persuading Mesut Ozil to agree a new contract are big shows of intent from a club determined to get back on track.


And the reality is that it will happen with or without Wenger.

Arsenal could yet have a good season as they could win the Carabao Cup and the Europa League offers a route into the Champions League.

But Arsenal are stuck in sixth place in the Premier League – a very distant sixth – with the team needing major strengthening all over.

That was highlighted by the Swansea defeat, as the squad was exposed for being short in several key areas.


No midfield enforcer, an ageing defence and Alexandre Lacazette yet to prove himself after his £52m record move in the summer.

Mislintat is now driving transfers, Gazidis is playing a greater role during negotiations, former Team Sky executive Huss Fahmy is dealing with contracts and Sanllehi’s connections all over Europe are designed to strengthen Arsenal’s standing.

Wenger has no intention of leaving of his own accord. He did not fight as hard as he did last summer for a new two year contract just to walk away after 12 months.

But there is an acceptance that if the season implodes and Wenger has any doubts then they could have an “adult conversation”, although most accept he will stay until 2019.

Gazidis tried to initiate change last summer, and even old school board members thought it was time to move on, but majority shareholder Stan Kroenke had the final say and stuck with Wenger.

But it was interesting that, in December 2016, Kroenke’s NFL team, the Los Angeles Rams, sacked their long-time coach Jeff Fisher, 58, late in a disappointing season and appointed 30-year-old Sean McVay, who has just led them to wins in 11 of their 16 games and a return to the playoffs.

So much for Kroenke not sacking managers.


It proves he is prepared to make a change.

And if Arsenal do also make a change – even if it’s not until 2019 – then they will go for a younger man who will fit into the new structure as more of a head coach than traditional manager.

Back in the day, transfer negotiations with Arsenal became infamous for the talks having to be put on hold while someone left the room to call Wenger to make sure the figures were OK.

No wonder they gained a reputation for dragging their feet.

Those days are gone.

A few of the Arsenal old guard sat down for lunch before Christmas and they concluded there could be more departures come the summer.

They know their time is up, and familiar faces from the training ground and dressing room are preparing to leave.

They know the club is changing from top to bottom — and also know that Wenger’s time is running out amid the power shift.

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/revolution-started-arsenal-and-happen-11947404

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