I have long been fascinated with how things work. Not necessarily mechanical things, although those are super cool too, but I am utterly hypnotized by how big, complex organizations do big, complex things. In just the last couple weeks, for instance, I’ve wondered:
- How Marvel movies are made, from a project management perspective. I mean, these things take years to put together, and involve thousands of people at dozens of companies. The effects alone take 4-5 companies per movie. I would love to see a documentary about the project management that makes a behemoth like that move forward and hit its targets.
- How New York City works. I mean, walking around on Tuesday, and just taking in the mass jumble of complexity that is that incredibly dense city - utilities, buildings, roads, people, etc - it blows my mind that that city functions properly, and yet somehow, it does (at least in a “we keep the lights on and these buildings don’t fall over” sense). I mean, I work in county government, which is complex enough, but running a city of that size? That’s a big undertaking.
Which is why my eyes lit up a little bit this morning when I saw this article, the other part of which Aaron talked about elsewhere, in which Ivan Gazidis goes into just that little bit of detail about how Arsenal as a business works now.
We have known for a while that power at Arsenal was devolving, even under Wenger. The installation of a Director of Football (in all but name) and a transfer team meant that what used to be done by one guy is now done by a team, and while we probably understood that in theory, in execution, it’s still been a little hazy how it all is supposed to work.
While Gazidis will never show us an org chart or anything actually substantive about the running of a privately held business, as is his right, it was nice today to hear him talk a little bit about how Arsenal does its business in this mysterious new world. While what he said wasn’t exactly revolutionary, he did appear to draw a few lines a bit more clearly than they had been in the past. He said first:
We have two technical experts involved in the process and many more behind them helping them
Those “technical experts” are, of course, Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi. “Many more behind them” are their network of scouts and evaluation staff, who help build recommendations on who Arsenal should pursue. In order to help assuage fears about imposing upon the coach a player he does not want, Gazidis said
I don’t believe in bringing a player in that the coach does not want individually and also positionally.
Which is good, and which might help to address a fear a lot of people had about Arsenal’s new structure. Obviously, one line in a press conference does not an iron-clad guarantee make, but it’s good to hear that Gazidis is aware of that concern and is trying to be respectful of it. He concluded his remarks with
There is an agreement between Sven and Unai and then the rest of the work is more technical, (the) legal and financial side is done by Raul, Huss [Fahmy] and myself. Ultimately those decisions culminate in my recommendation to the board for its approval.
The only piece that’s missing for me here is a series of questions - what if the board disapproves? Does the board exist solely as a rubber stamp for Gazidis, as it did for Wenger? How active is the board in the running of Arsenal’s latest incarnation?
Saying that, though, I don’t think the board is an impediment - I’m just curious, because it’s the only piece of the puzzle that is still deliberately obscured. Either way, though, this was an interesting look behind Arsenal’s curtain and I’m glad that Gazidis is undertaking the PR effort of being as visible as he can as Arsenal move into an entirely different phase of their existence.