Lessons Learned from Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting
In the years past Arsenal’s AGM has always been a feisty affair as irate, irked and unhappy fans used the medium to share their thoughts with the club’s upper echelon and the outcomes are always filled with Board promises, which in most cases, are never fulfilled. However, yesterday’s AGM had a better feel about it, bearing in mind that the Gunners are firing on all cylinders and currently sit at the summit of the Premier League.
The official site has published a full transcript with all the quotes from Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis, Silent Stan Kroenke and the rest of the Arsenal hierarchy, but I want to share my thoughts on what I’ve learned from yesterday’s AGM.
Time Heals Everything
Last season’s AGM, the fans heckled Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis, Peter Hill-Wood and voiced their thoughts citing that Stan Kroenke had no ambition. There was an intense debate about the tumultuous issues at the Board, with beliefs that they were ruining the club. To be fair to the fans, the club wasn’t producing the right results on the pitch and that contributed a lot to the fan’s anger, coupled with the fact that the club had not captured all its intended transfer targets.
Yesterday, the AGM arrived at the end of Arsenal’s 10-game winning streak that was halted by a 1-1 draw with West Brom. The Gunners had decimated their transfer record to smithereens and the performances of some players, notably Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud have been nothing short of sensational.
It just goes to show that time heals even the deepest wounds.
Arsene Wenger was Quick to Touch on the Past, and Offers Hope for the Future
For a manager that has been at the helm of affairs for the past 17 years, Arsene Wenger was swift to acknowledge his team’s shortcomings in the past but he offered some hope for the foreseeable future,
“Last season did not start in the best way, because we lost Robin van Persie and that created a lot of unrest and skepticism around the team, we were a bit destabilized.
We had two huge disappointments in the cups, it was the first time in 17 years that we went out against lower division teams, but in the Premier League, we stabilized the results and we finished in a very strong way. If you put the end of the season onwards from March up until today, we lost just one game in 26 or 27.”
The painful loss of Robin van Persie to Manchester United proved to be insurmountable as his replacements failed to hit top gear even if their contributions last season were still commendable. The unfathomable losses to Bradford City and Blackburn in the domestic cups were unbearable as the Gunners had a very realistic chance of excelling in those competitions. After defeating the Gunners on penalties, Bradford City went on to beat Aston Villa in the semis before suffering a heavy defeat in the Capital One Cup final to Swansea.
However, kudos must go to Wenger to steadying the ship and having the balls to drop his captain and first-choice goalie, as their replacements stepped up the plate in the Allianz Arena before contributing immensely to the amazing Premier League run that saw the Gunners amass 26 points from a possible 30.
Even though a Lukasz Fabianski rib injury paved the way for Wojciech Szczesny’s return, his drastically improved commanding and dominant performances showed the benefit of competition. Thomas Vermaelen wasn’t that lucky though.
Ivan Gazidis Has a Joke or Two in Him
Arsenal’s Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, has always been known to be a great orator but he showed his hilarious side he mocked Tottenham over the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid as well as mocking Arsene Wenger for his coat-zipping chronicles.
When he was asked about NBC’s marketing link with Arsenal and the poster of Gareth Bale (in Tottenham colors) that was adorned in the New York Times Square, his response was,
“Yes there is a poster of Bale in Times Square, but he no longer plays for Tottenham – he now plays for one of our rivals!”
In addition to his swipe at Tottenham, he said,
“We also have a few problems on the bench – Arsene can’t do up the zip on his coat!”
Sir Chips Keswick Shared his Thoughts in his First AGM as Chairman
For the first time in ages, there was no Peter Hill-Wood in an AGM but his successor, Sir Chips Keswick, got a hang of things and shared his opinions on questions directed at him.
When he was asked about Arsenal’s link with a player with so much baggage in the form of Luis Suarez, Sir Chips stated that he wasn’t really aware of Suarez racism rows, diving and biting chronicles but he stated that every player, even if its Suarez or the mischievous Loki of Asgaard, player must adhere to Arsenal’s standards because the club’s ethics are as strong as ever.
When he was also asked about his thoughts on the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, he stated that he won’t be going because he probably won’t be alive so the tournament isn’t one of his priorities. To be fair to Sir Chips, he will be 82 during the World Cup and I’m pretty sure that he won’t like the extreme heat in that part of the world.
Arsene Wenger Praises the Club’s Scouting Network and the Club’s Spending Power
“No one knew Laurent Koscielny or Olivier Giroud but now they are internationals.”…You don’t need a scout to sign Mesut Ozil just the money and we proved we aren’t afraid to spend money with Ozil.” – Arsene Wenger
In fairness to Arsene Wenger and his scouting team, the acquisitions of the French duo of Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud has been major successes as both players have contributed immensely to the club in more ways than one and for those that don’t know, Koscielny has scored the goals that secured Champions League berths for two seasons in a row. In 127 appearances for Arsenal thus far, the defender has scored 10 goals. Olivier Giroud on the other hand is garnering a good reputation to himself and he has scored 23 goals in 58 games for Arsenal, an ever-improving record.
In Mesut Ozil, the Gunners have proved that they are not always Scrooge-esque in nature and are never afraid to put their money where their mouth is. If Chelsea didn’t splurge 50 million pounds on Fernando Torres, Mesut Ozil would have been the record British transfer.
All in all, it was a good engagement between the club’s management and the fans and everyone cannot wait to get back to winning ways when the Gunners host Norwich tomorrow. Expect a match preview here.
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