Analysis – Why the Kroenkes are right to extend Arteta’s contract…. for now

The days are almost always numbered for a manager or “greed is good”

Actually, it is very simple. In modern top football the expiry date of a manager’s contract is really just a timeframe, which more often than not, will be deviated from. The truth is, you are manager for a team until you either decide to step down, or the people running the club have lost their confidence in your ability to fulfill their expectations going forward.

As the former is such a rare occasion, it really is the latter that nearly always matters. It is in this context, the new contract for Arteta should be seen.

Expectations have the tendency to change, and not always through a logical chain of events. Often through irrational changes of mood and feelings. Nevertheless, if Arteta wants to stay as a manager for Arsenal, he must at all time primarily live up to expectations the owners may have. Pure and simple.

 Arsenal is one of the biggest football clubs in the World. It is also big business. I don’t know the owners in any way, and I was brought up not to pass judgement on others, unless I had personal first hand knowledge.

But I will take it for granted, that the Kroenkes do know a lot about running a big business. In a business I consider it a must, that key personnel at the management level are absolutely in line with what the Board and the CEO expects. 

Arteta is obviously key personnel, as he currently “occupies” the single most important post in the organization.

I am sure Arteta is an intelligent man. Not only does he clearly come across as one, but no big business would have it any other way with their key management personnel. So even if you are of the opinion that the Kroenkes don’t “care” the right way about Arsenal, I think you would have to agree, they probably care enough about their business to make sure they select a manager, which they believe can fulfil their expectations to the business. Likewise, Arteta is intelligent enough to make sure he knows what those expectations are.

Even if it is actually true that the Kroenke’s don’t care emotionally about Arsenal, the fact is, from a business point of view, the last few year’s financial results have been unsatisfactory to say the least. That is important. A big part of the problem is the direct loss of revenue we used to have from Champions League football.

But on top of the direct loss, there are longer term risks involved in dropping down the ladder. We have huge worldwide companies as sponsors. They have demands not only for expected TV exposure, but also very much demands to the Arsenal brand. To satisfy this, Arsenal must both get the worldwide TV exposure from Champions League football on a regular basis, and Arsenal must also remain a prestigious brand. Those two things very much go hand in hand, and it will be costly if we don’t turn it around.

I have no doubt the Kroenkes know all this much better than I do, and that is a good thing. Because then the Kroenkes business interest in Arsenal is actually aligned with mine as a fan. None of us have any interest whatsoever in seeing Arsenal lose it’s status as a leading club on the world stage. We both need to see Arsenal back in the Champions League, and preferably also winning important titles now and again.

So even if you want to accuse the Kroenke’s for lack of emotional ambition, the reality is that it makes no financial sense not to have the above ambition. Go ahead and accuse them of being “greedy bastards”, if you like. It will actually help us at the moment, the greedier they are.

An obvious point to make could be, that they just need to invest the same amounts as Chelsea and Man City have done to get the same success. But that would be to look away from some important facts and issues. The owners of those clubs, not least Man City, have such large funds available, that it doesn’t have to make financial sense. Indeed, it can very much be argued their investment is not driven solely by rational financial calculations, but very much also by some more dubious intentions, which can be described as sports washing. In Chelsea’s case, I am obviously not talking about the new owners, as we still have to see what they bring.

No, Arsenal are in the same boat as all other clubs that we are competing against. Barring a hope that Santa Claus will come to our rescue, we have to accept investments need to make financial sense as well. It is the same for Man United, Spurs, Liverpool and any PL team you can mention, except maybe now also Newcastle.

It is in this light, I think, we must look at what is going on.

When we dropped out of the Champions League for the first time under Wenger, I believe he and the owners both thought, this is just a blimp, that could be corrected. Wenger had seen rather heavy backing financially around that time, and why wouldn’t he turn it around straight away.

It didn’t happen, and the owners lost the neccessary confidence. He had to be “let go”.

Emery was brought in. I believe he and the owners at that time both believed he would make an immediate turn around of our fortunes. He nearly did in his first year, so the owners kept their faith. But only until they were in the middle of the next season they had to realize it wasn’t going to happen then either.

I also firmly believe the owners and the management of Arsenal, then took a hard look at themselves and at what to do from here. Two attempts spanning over three seasons to make a quick return to “normal”, had seriously failed. One  failed attempt with our greatest manager of all time at the helm, and one with another world class manager at the helm.

What now?

I am pretty sure it was realized that we couldn’t expect an immediate return to the Champions League. There is always hope, but given the recent failures, it couldn’t be expected. Another approach and plan was called for.

That is why, we now have seen a massive clear out of players and all of them to be replaced by young and hungry players. I think this general plan has been conceived in unison between owners, Arteta and possibly other key personnel. True, the acquisition of Willian goes against that, and maybe the plan was originally to blend the very young players with a few experienced ones to balance it out. I admit, this is guesswork, but either way, the owners clearly have the patience to let Arteta continue with the plan now in place.

But it is not through lack of ambition. As explained, even if it is only financial ambition that drives the owners, they have a clear interest in Arsenal being much more successful than in recent years. They simply believe in the plan, and for the time being, also in Arteta as the key person to implement it. They expect him to deliver. Make no mistake. But they expect it can take more than this season. And this is why it really doesn’t matter, if you in theory can argue, it isn’t fair Wenger and Emery were let go after their 6th and 5th positions in the league, when Arteta has been “allowed” to continue. It is because expectations have changed. Not ambition, but expectations. Two very different things.

Personally, I am very happy with the plan. It looks very ambitious to me to be the highest spender on new players this season and to invest all the money in players who are presumably a few years from reaching their peak, and obviously weren’t expected to deliver what they have done already.

Is it also ambitious to keep Arteta? Because those 2 things can be looked at separately. I think it is. As he obviously has lived up to the owner’s expectations, it is certainly also fair. I am sure, Arteta and the owners are seeing eye to eye with the plan as long as we are progressing, and the owners expectations are met. If expectations aren’t met, his time will be up, and it will of course happen one day unless he resigns earlier.

With that, I will wish everybody a great NLD. More is at stake than in many years. And to top it off, we have our own “rookie” manager up against Conte, who in my opinion deserves a lot of respect, but a manager, which I really didn’t hope we would get. He seems to be a Mourinho in a nicer wrapping with his defensive approach.

Wonder who will keep their respective owners most happy for the longest time?

kind regards

Anders S

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  1. Conte didn’t leave on good terms from Chelsea and Inter, so I expect him to clash with Levy at some point next year. Arteta seems much calmer, therefore he could stay longer if Arsenal finish in top four every season

    Kroenke has made a great decision by keeping Arteta, because hiring a new manager means he would have start the rebuilding process from zero and it’d be a big gamble. Unless Kroenke hires someone who’s already proven in EPL, such as Guardiola, Klopp and Tuchel

  2. Don’t want to outjump gotanidea on this, but only time will tell regarding their decision. In my case it was a gut feeling or wishful thinking, hoping he would be the next super manager.. Clearly not a fan at this stay. Hate both lack of playing style and his judgement of what makes a good player. It has never been m.y call though so que sera, sera.

    1. @Joe S.
      Spot on Gooner. My sentiments exactly. Nothing against the guy personally, but he did make it harder for himself as well as the team by getting rid of players who could have helped us either win the league, since we were only playing one match a week, or secure a higher position on the table. At the moment, we are where we are by no fault of our own making. Other teams around us were poor and we should have capitalised more on that. But due to a thin squad and lack of match fitness of our back ups we couldn’t…
      His OJT (on the job) period is over. It’s time for him to show, in my opinion, his metal…IJS

      1. By the way NY Gunner, were we watching Arsenal losing their first game of the season in an Irish pub in Seville, Spain about six years ago. I remember sharing my opinions with a very vociferous New Yorker at that time. High but low expectations at the same time and we ended up sixth under Wegner.

        1. @Joe S.
          It wasn’t me. But I can imagine the conversation during the match. Colourful commentary I bet…😂

      2. Other teams around us have never been poor, it is true that other teams in this league have been very good and beating those teams around us whilst we have been able to defeat those teams

  3. As much as I don’t agree with the premise of the article (I read it all)

    It was still a very good read and some great points from your own perspective and no belittling of the opposing side 👍

    The issue for me in which you covered is being out of the CL for so long I’m curious where this transfer budget is going to come from seeing the outlay in which Stan as already subsidised in the last few years .

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I believe Kroenke is willing to invest more in the plan, as long as he sees it pregressing.
      Should we get CL next season, it will be easier to find funds for new players in the upcoming window. But even if we don’t, I believe 5’th with the young squad will be seen as a good foundation, and more investment can be justified.

  4. Anders, a good article and I enjoyed reading it.
    From my perspective, it seems that the owner has decided on a long term strategy with Mikel and, if a catastrophic collapse doesn’t occur, that means for the duration of MA’s new three year contract.

    There is an obvious reason behind this, as Mikel has been learning about management as a No. 1 and kronkie wants to protect his investment and tie MA down.

    If we qualify for the CL this season, the plan will be ahead of schedule – if we don’t, then kronkie has signalled in the most obvious way, that he will stick with, what could be, the next Pep/klopp…. or a five year experiment that sees the club falling further backwards.

    All Gooners hope it’s the former and The Emirates proved this.

    However, those who point out the inadequacies of Mikel, are shot down and accused of not supporting the club/manager and the most amusing thing, in my opinion, is it’s, in the main, those self same fans who hounded AW and UE (to a lesser extent) are now accusing the likes of me as being blind etc etc.

    Here’s the question, if, despite everything Mikel and Stan have done, if we finish fifth – which was UE’s final position – can we say we have truly progressed in challenging the top clubs, city – liverpool – chelsea and the spuds?

    1. Ken, thank you for your comment.
      Firstly, I would like to say, I don’t think people criticising Arteta are “shot down”. But I do think some of their arguments have a lack of logic, and that these arguments are generally met with good counter points.

      Now to your question.
      No doubt in my mind, 4’th is so much better than 5’th.
      But would 5’th mean, we should go back to the drawing board again and start over? To me the answer is clearly a “no”. I think, we have progressed a lot over this season, and I believe the young team, we have is a good foundation to move on from.
      Should 5’th mean Arteta should be sacked, because he then has produced 8’th and 5’th in his 2 full seasons, and as such has not produced better than AW and UE?
      I don’t think that would be clever. Arteta has without a doubt had a big say in devising the plan, and at the moment it seems the plan is progressing nicely. 4’th or 5’th is very important financially, but it isn’t crucial for our chances of future success IMO.

      1. But Anders, you have just shot the opposite opinion of yours down because you say anyone who doesn’t think there is progress inder Arteta lacks logic. Which i totally disagree with and find it condescending. I will give you logic and fact. If we finish 4th, we will have improved!!!!! Iwe finish 5th there is a good chance we will be on the same defeats as last season (13) or at least within one because we are 11 defeats now. There is my logic and i always try and back it up.

        1. Reggie, you need to read, what I actually say. I clearly say “SOME of the arguments lack logic”.

    2. Ken, sorry I missed it first time around. But I have some questions for you:

      1) Are you convinced sacking Arteta now would be the best way to go for Arsenal, or

      2) Is it a matter of “justice”, that he should be sacked now, because his results in principle could be said to be on the same level as AW and UE?

      1. Anders, just read your reply and questions.

        1. I have never called for Mikel to be sacked!!
        What I have questioned, is some of the decisions he has made and how he is given so much leeway on mistakes versus UE and AW.

        2. “Justice” is a weird word to use, but let’s go with it.
        Justice for me, would be to see improvements in the following areas.
        Defence – Total wins – Home form – Money spent – Money accumulated – Final league position… the most important one.

        I don’t believe you can justify Mikel finishing 5th as an improvement though, because it was his 8th finish (along with no european football) that saw the club finish in it’s worst position for four decades.

        We won’t know the answers until the end of the season, then you and I can debate the merits of what has been achieved.

        I have to ask you, though, is it your opinion that I want MA to fail, because that is how your post comes across and that, my friend, would be a insult.

  5. Very good article by the writer.

    The writer nicely put a lot of things in perspective.
    The article actually answers some questions that some gooners my have struggled with.

    Honestly some arguments the writer make are straight common sense, which most business would have undergone at some stage of the operation.

    A well timely posting which I appreciate, some time articles like this needs a follow up

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