If you stick around a place long enough, you begin to be accepted, eventually even respected and understood. Whether it’s in a sports team, a local pub or a job. You become less of the untrustworthy outsider. I wonder if Ivan Gazidis is reaching that point at Arsenal after his activity in recent months.
I realise this article may well split opinion and don’t get me wrong, I was one of the fans on one of the protests, before the Swansea game in December 2012, shouting “Ivan Gazidis, what the **** do you do?!” outside the Emirates, and I was as suspicious as any when this slimey, clean cut, unknown became our CEO and was effectively interviewed by the man who would be his immediate inferior, Arsene Wenger.
His comments are scrutinised more than most in his position, and phrases like “Catalyst for change” and “we can now compete with Bayern Munich” have in hindsight made him look more like David Brent than a boss at one of the biggest sports teams in the world. And it appeared he was as big a Wenger disciple as there is out there, which is another reason to split the fans on him.
However, something has changed in the last year or so. While there is an obvious disconnect between the chairman (who should go asap) and the largest and second largest billionaire majority shareholders refusing to work together like two stubborn teenagers, Gazidis has shown he wants change and he does care about both the club and the views of the fans.
It’s well known he pushed for a director of football last year, but the idea was squashed by Wenger. How that works I’m still unsure. But he was also instrumental in our appointments that were successful off the pitch, the main one being the respected scout Sven. There are serious rumours of both transfers and appointments being made over Wenger’s head. If this is true, I think it’s showing the times are changing. Gazidis is at last exercising the power that he has. He is in it for the long hall going forwards, potentially unlike Wenger.
If you needed any other indication of his commitment to the cause, I would point to the reports that he has moved his office base to the training ground to oversee day to day operations. David Dein has never been replaced, but he is beginning to act like our main “football man” on the board. And with Keswick, Kroenke and Usmanov more interested in a combination of money, power struggles and NFL, it turns out Ivan might not be so terrible after all.
Up the Arsenal