As we all wait for what is the seemingly inevitable to happen, David Ornstein puts a timeline on it for us:
Arsenal close to appointing boss, next week likely. Start of continental model: head coach slots into predefined structure, will contribute to recruitment decisions & have veto. Transfer targets were discussed with interviewees, pre-sales budget ~£50m #AFC https://t.co/dNG5Txudmo— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) May 18, 2018
There’s also a couple corroborating bits of news:
and the most intriguing one:
Arteta has played a major part in the recent sacking of part of the Arsenal backroom staff & it’s understood he made the recommendation for physio Colin Lewin to leave as he blames him for rushing him back after an injury during the Spaniard’s time at the club. [@ChrisWheatley_] pic.twitter.com/fXVuP743XE— afcstuff (@afcstuff) May 18, 2018
If that third one is true, it’s merely a matter of time before an announcement is made because he’s already doing the job.
As with many of Ornstein’s tweets, there’s a lot to unpack there. First off, a confirmation of what we already know: Arsenal are devolving away from having one man in charge of the whole show. This, in my opinion, is an unequivocally good thing. The game is so much more sprawly and complex now that it’s good to have multiple people handling the multiple moving parts that go in to building a successful team, and Arsenal putting that structure in place begins to close the gap that has opened between them and the bigger teams that have done this for years now.
There’s also the “will contribute to recruitment discussions & have veto” bit. This tells me that the coach won’t just be a figurehead that does whatever Gazidis, Sanllehi, and Mislintat command. This is, again, a good thing; having the coach and recruitment staff on the same page and accountable to each other will really help everyone stay on the same page.
And now...a deep breath. “pre-sales budget ~£50m”. That’s...not a lot. I mean, it’s a lot in the real world - hand me that money, I never work again, I live off the interest and never touch the principal, and I’m sitting on the Big Island watching lava all day with a drink in my hand, happy as a guy could possibly be. But in a sports context, particularly in a Premier League context, £50 million is basically lunch money and is in no way enough to keep up in a player-acquisition arms race, much less re-enter one that you exited several years ago.
But here’s the thing - just because Arsene didn’t go the let’s-get-a-few-guys-on-a-free route doesn’t mean Arteta (or, since that’s not official yet, doesn’t mean whoever gets the job) won’t want to. So in that spirit, after the most cursory of looks at the list, here’s two players that would improve Arsenal that wouldn’t cost a dime in transfer fees:
- Max Meyer. Germany is the new France, in that it’s the place to go to get somewhat under-the-radar (relatively, I mean, this is soccer so there’s always attention) players that are poised to take that mythical Next Step to the purported Best League In The World (tm). Meyer is a midfielder who can both attack and defend; he does play more in an attacking role, but he’s definitely capable of dropping back when the situation calls for it.
- Joel Robles. The Everton keeper is out of contract, and David Ospina is still an Arsenal goalkeeper. If the latter situation changes, the former could come in handy. Robles isn’t going to be the best keeper in the world, but he’s two years younger than Ospina and with Petr Cech still presumably Arsenal’s #1 option, I’d love to see an upgrade at the position, even if it’s just a better backup, who could be poised to steal a few games and/or a job from a rapidly declining Cech.
And that’s just two names - there’s a few other intriguing possibilities on that list. The point is, though, don’t freak out when you see ARSENAL ONLY HAVE £50 MILLION TO SPEND - a savvy manager and recruitment team can make that work in their favor, especially if paired with some strategic player sales.
As we keep saying: we’re in uncharted waters here, people. So try not to freak out too hard, because things are going to be done differently this year than ever before. “Different” does not, at this point, mean better, nor does it mean worse; it means different, and it means we should all try to be patient and not judge using the standards we’ve used for the last several seasons, but maybe wait to see how things shape up and see what clues we get from the new guard as to how they’re going to do things.