Arsene Wenger appears to be at odds with Ivan Gazidis, with the manager hitting back after Gazidis made comments over the weekend. Gazidis’ comments, made at a fan forum, discussed how the club would review its structure and how the club is run, including scouting, youth development, coaching and transfers—a role that seems akin to a Director of Football.
When asked about Gazidis’ comments at his press conference, Wenger said, “I would like you to visit one day the club now, what it is, compared to what it was when I arrived, and you would say that there is a structural change.” This is true; the club has changed and evolved since 1996, for the better, but it is also not a binary situation. It is true that the club is in a better place overall than in 1996; it is also true that it could be better, that when it comes to the structure of the club, Arsenal are behind its rivals, with Manchester City showing how a change can be made in a short amount of time.
Its unfortunate that every question addressed to Wenger about the club is turned into a referendum on Wenger, because that’s not constructive. Saying that Arsenal need a new director of football isn’t an attack on Wenger’s legacy, but a recognition that football has changed a lot over the past 20 years, which is why figures like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are the exception, not the rule.
Ultimately, it is another reminder that the decision made on Arsene Wenger genuinely has to be a mutual decision. If it is mutual, as Gazidis and the board insist it will be, then they—the members of the board—must also be able to hold Wenger and the football staff accountable.