JustArsenal Analysis: January is the time for Edu to prove his worth

Edu’s Job is on the Line this Window

A long time ago, football fandom was all about hoping your coach was good enough, buys good players and the team does well. However, over the years, especially with the retirement of legendary managers like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson from their respective clubs, the decline that followed and the rise of savvy clubs like Liverpool, Tottenham, Ajax, Dortmund and Leiceister, fans are beginning to realize that football is not just affected by the instructions of a coach.

Nowhere has this been more starkly obvious than at Manchester United after the sale of the club to the Glazer family. They hired a slew of top managers after Ferguson but results refused to trend upward. They made some expensive acquisitions of good players but it mostly didn’t work out. Paul Pogba, their academy product was re-aquired for a world record transfer fee, embodies the mismanagement.

There is now an understanding that the most important long-term aspect of a club is not its coach but the owners. In a world where football institutions are falling into private billionaire portfolios like so much real estate, who owns what is very important to the standings.

Ownership in of itself is not a magic elixir: it is more the commitment and the ambition. Fenway Sports Group do not have as much money as Qatar’s national investment fund but they are fiercely committed and ambitious to make Liverpool one of the best clubs in European soccer. It is this commitment that leads to good decisions in terms of hiring management talent. They want the best people possible in charge of running the club. That role, majorly, belongs to that of a sporting director.

A sporting director is responsible for the long-term future of a club. He or she is in charge of planning the finances and hiring other management staff. He is the operating brain of a club, connecting different parts and processing feedback into a coherent picture that helps with decision-making. There’s Michael Edwards at Liverpool who is responsible for hiring Jurgen Klopp and establishing their influential analytics department. There’s Zorc at Dortmund who is responsible for identifying some of the best upcoming coaches and running the famous Dortmund scouting network. There’s Daniel Levy at Tottenham who has made the most effective use of limited finances and has since completed the construction of a new stadium. There’s Monchi at Sevilla who is constantly overachieving with player recruitment and player sales. All of these guys determine the long-term prospects of their respective football clubs. This was a role that Arsene Wenger and Ferguson once took on alongside their coaching. Wenger had a famous eye for talent and was great at developing young players. Ferguson, who had more resources, successfully rejuvenated old squads with new, Championship-winning blood.

Today, Manchester United have no sporting director. Instead, the owners installed Ed Woodward, a banker, to run the club. His improper management has been well-documented and only recently, with Ole Gunnar Solksjaer having a growing influence on recruitment, has the club improved. Not a lot of modern clubs use this old-fashioned style anymore. Coaches are just that. No more Wenger or Ferguson type managers. It takes an overly-talented individual to be a management visionary as well as a great coach. It’s much better and easier to split the job into two: a visionary director and a visionary coach. Ralf Rangnick is one of the last breeds of this type and even he has been outed at the Redbull clubs he helped established.

Arsenal have gone with the modern trend and hired a sporting director. While Raul Sanllehi and Ivan Gazidis have not worked out (their dodgy quality is indicative of the commitment of the owners to hire the best talent at the club), and now the hope is that Edu will.


Edu has been sporting director of Corinthians FC in the Brazilian league. His management led them to great success and he was subsequently hired to oversee the Brazilian national side, along with Tite. Arsenal, as they did with Arteta, have considered his limited but sterling pedigree, his association with the club and its values, and have hired him. Edu has had a rocky start to life at Arsenal. There has been a lot of incoming and outgoing behind the scenes. Before his arrival, a lot of power joustling and shifts had been going on and the on-pitch results were bad. His first job, presumably, was to stabilize the club so some continuity can be found. His second and probably most important short-term job was to clear out the bloated wages acquired by his predecessors. There was, of course, recruitment to consider. And then long-term planning for the club.

Edu’s job was not made easy by the fact that Ivan Gazidis, who had hired him, left, and the pandemic suddenly ripping up the financial outlook. His relationship with the head coach seems good and he was able to convince the owners to shell out on Thomas Partey. But despite the acquisition of good talent in Gabriel and Partey, the window was very bad in terms of outgoings. Not enough players were moved on and that eventually affected Arsenal’s pursuit of top talent in Houssem Aouar.

However, this January window is a chance at restitution. There are too many players collecting big wages that have no future at the club. If Edu is able to move them off, he is setting Arsenal up for a big summer window. As much as 700,000 pounds a week can be freed between now and the end of the season. And that is not including the possible sales of first-team contributors like Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka and Mohammed Elneny.

Edu’s job as technical director is on the line this window. The responsibility is fully on him to reduce Arsenal’s wages. A pandemic is no longer an excuse to not do so. Arsenal must unburden themselves in order to run well in the summer. January is but a precursor to what can happen in July. Selling well right now means an exciting summer window.

Agboola Israel

Tags Arteta Edu transfer window


  1. Lenohappy says:

    Azeez on 8.. SmithRowe on 10, Martinelli 11, SAKA on 7, Balogun as a striker, Tierney on 3, ooh the future really is bright. I just pray Balogun sign a new contract.

  2. Grandad says:

    In my opinion, getting Balogun to extend his contract should be a first priority for Edu.In my opinion this young man is superior to Nketiah and , along with Saka and Martinelli, will develop into a top quality player.To me his future at Arsenal is more important than ridding ourselves of the mediocre players recruited during the past 5/6 years.I say this because, due to the Covid impact on the finances of virtually every Club, the transfer market will be limited to loans rather than sales.Hopefully an upturn in the market will be apparent in the Summer window when Edu will have a better opportunity to sell some of our deadwood.

  3. jon fox says:

    First things first! This detailed and informative article from Agboola is among the very best ever written on here(of those I have seen). It was a beautifully constructed summation of the role of the modern technical director and its open mindedness in asking proper and pertinent questions, along with its sober conclusions about Gazidis and Sanllehi are highly perceptive.

    What Al argues it that we are now in a critical wait to see what happens next period and I could not agree more. Some have grave doubts on Edu; others, like me, are more optimistic but no one can be sure as yet.

    Sincere applause Al for this quality article and more of this standard please!

  4. Kobin says:

    Yes it’s Balogun that is the most important. Then we go to clearing. Papa, Ozil, Mustafi. And we should not buy any other teams senior players. Not Costa, Not Isco, not Erikson. We cannot afford another past it players on huge wages. There are exciting talents in the league and championship. In the summer, let’s get William gone and probably Pepe. In as much as I like the Ivorian to improve, he only has a few months. Lets cut our losses and invest in youth. We can be the Ajax of England.

  5. Grandad says:

    Like JonF , Agboola, may I too congratulate you on another excellent article.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      I also support the comments of jon fox and Grandad on Agboola’s excellent article.
      As Agboola states the best ownership makes their ambition evident by “good decisions in hiring management talent. They want the best people possible running the club.”
      This is the area where Arsenal has fallen off the pace, with an out of touch Board and poor executives, since the expulsion of David Dein.

  6. Ackshay says:

    Summer 2021 will already be really good in terms of clearing our bloated wage bill as ozil, sokratis, luiz, mustafi will leave. A couple of good addition like partey, gabriel or mari will make us much better.

  7. Henry Nsakalika says:

    Fans and staunch gooners can say this but with Arsenal it’s always a vice versa. Take a look at how our young stars are being treated. They failed to give Saliba a chance but mustafi was always in a team though not in first line up. They sent a fighter Guendozi and remained with xhaka. They want to sell nelson and willock and remain with willian and luiz. That’s absolutely maccabre. I know Edu what’s to make a brazillian core which is fine but get the best young brazillians not willian and luiz please. Arsenal is too big to stand the shame of fighting relegation.

  8. nuisance says:

    i think that for this january transfer window we focus on already made players and dont sell Balogun why? because we arent gonna get much more money from it and well witness him become the best in the world and thank god that Ozil has finnaly left

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