Arsenal: In Ivan Gazidis we trust?

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis looks on prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC at White Hart Lane on March 3, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis looks on prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC at White Hart Lane on March 3, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) /

Arsenal have hired Unai Emery as a Head Coach. But this is now Ivan Gazidis pulling the strings at the club. It is in him that all fans must now place their trust.

We have entered the post-Arsene-Wenger era at Arsenal. All you have to do is look at the plethora of recent personnel and coaching hirings and changes that have been made in the past year or two.

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Up to this point, Raul Sanllehi, former Barcelona Director of Football, Sven Mislintat, former Borussia Dortmund Head Scout, Huss Fahmy, former Legal and Commercial Expert for Team Sky, and Darren Burgess, former Fitness Coach in Aussie Rules Football have all been hired in the personnel department.

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Meanwhile, Jens Lehmann, Sal Bibbo and Per Mertesacker have all been placed in the Arsenal coaching tree, with the likes of Colin Lewin, Head Physio, Neil Banfield, First-Team Coach, Gerry Peyton, Goalkeeping Coach, Tony Colbert, Fitness Coach, Paul Johnson, Equipment Manager, and Boro Primorac, First-Team Coach, many of which have been key figures in the Wenger structure, all now gone.

The influx of talented individuals from different industries, different sports and different systems is all because of one man, Ivan Gazidis. Although the hiring of Sanllehi and Mislintat may make sense to the everyday fan, the other hires I mentioned may come as a surprise. Yet for Gazidis, it isn’t surprising at all.

Born in Johannesburg, Gazidis moved to Manchester and became a City fan growing up. He graduated from Oxford and moved to the US to become a lawyer. Later, he joined the founding management team of MLS and oversaw strategic, business decisions, as well as the marketing arm of MLS. Yet, all that does not explain the above hires. It simply gives us a little background on who Gazidis is and his career up until this point. What does, however, provide some reason for the decisions that have been made is a detail from Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting in 2012/13.

Gazidis explained the purchases made by the club during the meeting. Among the players purchased, the transfers, the detailed and complicated commercial investments of the club, over £2 million were spent on acquiring StatDNA. StatDNA, a data analytics company based in the US, who, according to their website, incorporates software development and advanced analytics to deliver advanced statistics, are seen by Gazidis as a part of the modern structure that he wants to implement at the Emirates.

In the years since Gazidis took over and became a key part of the Arsenal cog, he has pushed for one idea: one person shouldn’t make all the decisions because no one man is smart enough to do that. For me, this idea is central to the understanding of what is about to happen. There is an adopting of the modern philosophies, and it’s actually extremely exciting.

For those who disagree, consider this: 20 years ago, the internet as we know it today, did not exist. Applications to university were not done through an Electronic Common Application or UCAS. The world of sports was also vastly different, and the amount of information available to everyone differed based on resources available. But now, anyone can search for the best universities on earth and with decent internet, anyone can apply to schools in the US and UK with relative ease.

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) /

Likewise, Wenger succeeded in an era where Patrick Viera was a relative unknown. But in the modern day, we have videos on Youtube of 12 years olds in Brazil showing off their skills on an uneven batch of concrete. It is a different world, and Gazidis’ approach is to gather as many experts as he can so that every decision made would be subject to input from a scout, a fitness expert, a legal and contracts expert, an individual who is an expert in that field, not just one man who has control over aspect of the club, even if he is not as knowledgeable in that particular area.

Unai Emery was announced as the next Head Coach of Arsenal on Wednesday morning. It’s an announcement some believe is the conservative choice, while others are more bullish on the appointment. it is the right choice.

The debate is an interesting one. It rests on one’s opinion of Mikel Arteta, the man who was seemingly set for the role. But factor this in: It was Gazidis who wanted to keep Arteta and find him a position in Arsenal after his retirement from the game. The person who rejected such a suggestion? Wenger.

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So you could ask yourself whether you think Arteta or Emery is the better choice. But, ultimately, it is simply just another cog in the machine, not the author of all like Wenger. Gazidis’ brain-trust is designed to win in the modern world. Arsenal’s future lies in the hands of Gazidis’ brain trust, not an Arteta or an Emery. Time will tell if this new approach has its merits or not.