There are many ways one can define success, especially in this football era which clearly divides the haves from the have nots. That is what one gets after reading Ivan Gazidis’s Telegraph interview.
Gazidis is the CEO of Arsenal, and a marketing and PR man by profession who was hired to develop the commercial interests of the club. It is this part, unsurprisingly that comes off strongest in terms of defining success because looming in the horizon, a 2014 deadline which will see existing sponsorships expire and newer, far more lucrative ones negotiated which will increase the financial clout of a self sustaining model.
The present contracts were not the best value for money because Arsenal were desperately preoccupied with funding the move to the Emirates.
“In terms of the financial impact, it will be as significant a step forward as the stadium was in 2005,” Gazidis said. “It does kick us into the top five clubs in the world with separation from the rest. The overall journey that the club embarked on was to make it one of the leading clubs in the world and to do it in a way that would be sustainable.”
The sense one gets from these statements and others is Arsenal better positioned in the long haul to negotiate the bewildering twists and turns of an economic maze as compared to many of its rivals. This dovetails into the overwhelming referencing of DNA which pertains to Wenger and the club’s thinking being inextricably linked and which will pass onto his successor when that time comes. If you look at it very narrowly, Gazidis is once again re-defining success.
“As a club, we have to make sure that all of the things that Arsène has brought to the club are enshrined in our DNA to make sure that, when Arsène decides it’s time, we are in a position to take his ideas and work forward.”
The other metric of success, silverware, which most fans care about, is given a boiler plate response. Gazidis, in a defensive crouch:
“We’re very optimistic about this season. We’re absolutely trying to win silverware and we’re trying desperately hard to do it this year.”
Although Gazidis strenuously emphasizes that the board’s ambitions are much higher than fourth position, the arrival of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, and Oliver Giroud can only be looked through the prism of the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, and Alex Song. This looks more like a holding pattern. A cup half empty but also half full.
One cannot expect Arsenal to score more than they did last season but they can bring down the number of goals conceded. Where they are already showing signs of success. Steve Bould is already having an impact with zonal marking bolstered by the repositioning of Mikel Arteta in the backfield. There is reason for optimism but one really can’t say whether this will be enough to bring back a trophy. But what Gazidis is preparing for us as does Wenger on many an occasion is a season should be examined in many different ways.
“When you look at what Arsene has done, within the overall constraints, he has outperformed our spending every single year he has been manager. It is extraordinary.”
Which does not answer that million dollar question. These “overall constraints” are now written into Arsenal’s DNA. But are they real or self imposed? Arseblog is of the view that there is money sitting around but Arsenal fail to use it to improve the squad or to give better wages to their top players.