Stan is NOT the man for Arsenal

July 16, 2011

We are only 4 months or so into the custodianship of Stan Kroenke and his company KSE at Arsenal. At 4 months in, I am wondering where the hell is Stan? I remember back in April there was so much hope and desire that Kroenke’s control of the board would bring a change in how the club approached things. Papers speculated that Wenger would be given a transfer war chest and a new era of Arsenal propserity would begin. Lot’s of people said that – I wasn’t one of them. I have  and remain  deeply concerned by Kroenke’s purchase of the club. Given the current state of things, I am more so.

There are glaring issues with the club. From the deals off the pitch to the product on the pitch the club needs some a major refocusing. As it stands thoough we have no idea what Stan plans for this club. We have talked about the previous board under Peter Hill-Wood not providing the appropriate dirction. Well, without so much as a statement of intent from our new owner in the first four months of his tenure, we still appear rudderless and adrift while other teams immediately around us have a clear vision of where they are going and what they are doing.

For those who expected some new approach to running the club, it is likely they  did not know much about the man they call silent Stan. A lot of people pointed to his successful ownership of US sports properties as a hopeful sign e would bring back the winning ways to Arsenal.  As a reminder his company KSE is majority owner of the St. Louis Rams and of the MLS Colorado Rapids, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. With all this ownership of clubs and my knowledge of their performance in recent years, I wondered in my earlier piece on Stan if he could really be an effective owner.  Mark Kizzla of the Denver Post seems to concur as he  once said this about Stan in relationship to his ownership style:

. . . and simply appearing to be cheap (Stan Kroenke’s Avalanche and Nuggets). Isn’t it fair to question whether Kroenke is simply spread too thin in terms of interest with all the teams he has ownership of?

It seems like a fair question. If he has ownership in all these companies and if he is an active owner – where does his attention lie? He seems to have little interest in beefing up the ailing Rams. TheAvalanche Yo-Yo from bottom of their Western conference to around 6th place every other year. The Nuggets always look dangerous but never do too much. The only real winner he has is the Colorado Rapids.

Stan’s approach is a marked difference to that of new Liverpool owner John Henry who also owns MLB’s Boston Red Sox. He has been engaged and active. Speaking in support of his manager, talking about the plans for the team and providing  vision of where the club is going. While I don’t expect  Stan to be as open and vocal as Henry, a simple statement of intent on what he wants the club to be and the direction he wants the club to take in.

Right now – we still seem rudderless. We still seem like everything is status quo and in some aspects that is good – in the most important aspect, the product on the pitch the status quo is anything but allright.

This team had a collapse of epic proportions in the final 11 matches of the season. It was clear that changes needed to be made and while leaving the business end of the deals to the executives, the owner owed/owes it to the fans to let us know what his thoughts on the end where and what he as owner was going to do to make sure this club did not repeat the errors of the end of last season. As it stands noone knows exactly what Stan thought of the end of the season. All we had was Ivan Gazidis’ attempts at the meeting with the AST to diffuse the situation and placate everyone by saying – we all know it sucked.  Yeah Ivan we know.

What is worrying me the most is that this lack of vision and direction coming from the ownership and the board seems to be letting Wenger off the hook for the glaring issues that are clear to everyone. We have heard from the club that players WILL be coming in. So far that isn’t untrue but the players they have brough in don’t answer the issues we have had as as a team. And it gets more worrying with comments coming out of the team during the recent Asian tour. One of our biggest, if not the biggest issue is the need for additional central defenders. We’ve heard Wenger say we need to get taller and stronger back there and we were linked with the likes of Cahill and Samba. Then after a 4-0 demolishing of a hapless Malaysia XI side, suddenly our defence wasn’t a big issue and we weren’t that bad last season. It’s Wenger falling into old patterns. If we had an engaged ownership, there should be a call from Stan to basically let Wenger know this is unacceptable, But it is very likely not going to happen.

Stan was preferred on the board and as the eventual owner because he was a like minded individual to the board. They too provided no direction, no vision and were more intent on taking money out of the club than putting it in. To our board and now to our current ownership we are merely a means to an end – lining their pockets.

I never expected much to change. after many protestations, Peter hill-Wood and Danny Fiszman’s relented to Stan being on the board. In time it seems they found someone kindered to their own mindset of how the club should be run. It made sense then when Usmanov made his move that Kroneke was given a seat on the board as opposed to the Russian. I don’t think the board would’ve allowed him a seat on the board if it didn’t in some way think he was going to carry on the traditions of prudence at the club. That being said of course, much like the debt issue, once in charge Kroneke is free to do as he pleases – to an extent. There is the issue of Usmanov still out there.

The kind treatment Stan seemed to enjoy from fan groups is already beginning to wane. While the were originally  encouraged by statements to honour the traditions of the club. the lack of direction is also concerning to them too.

Admittedly, I can see the positives to a new ownership right now however, the negatives that were clear to me when he bought the club are starting to bubble up more and more. It could change, I hope it does.  Really, I probably won’t know my true feelings on Stan until I start to see more ripple effects of his stewardship of the club. I hope my concerns and fears are wrong. I hope that Stan’s ownership ushers in a new era of prosperity and silverware for the club. But if first impressions are everything, my first impression on Stan is not a good one.

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Comments

  1. Fred - July 16, 2011 at 15:51

    Thomas Vermaelen in the THIRD of our four CBs to say he expects new defensive signings, saying competition is good and expected at every big club. He follows in the footsteps of Djorou and Koscielny in CALLING for defensive reinforcements.

    But Wenger does not want to “kill” Vermaelen, Djorou or Koscielny, so he won’t buy.

    Reply
  2. HighburyTerraceSteve - July 16, 2011 at 11:51

    Excellent choice of topic and, having watched the 2nd half of our Chinese pre-season match, you would have to count me among the worried. We appear headed into the season (and the back half of the transfer window) looking at another long season of (at best) holding our best players hostage while praying for youth development to happen sooner than later.

    Believe it or not, I think, when all the shouting stops for a moment I think we’re arriving at a consensus about the club’s ownership/management future. CK puts it in pithy form (below), but that’s not my style…..

    Some (blinded by hatred, and needing a figure to lynch) will continue to argue that it’s all the manager’s fault. As I proposed last week, I fear that there may be a far more cynical/sinister plan at work on the part of Kronke, the current board (all kept on for another year) and Gazidis/Wenger. None of those characters seem intent on taking the SLIGHTEST financial risk to nudge us to the front of the pack, esp. when seen in light of the continued spending at City, Chelsea, United and Liverpool. With those teams inflating the market for (IMO) nominal players (or those with contracts winding down) Arsenal appear content to sit on the sidelines, hunt for bargains and rely on internal solutions. I may be wrong, and some deals may come at the deadline, but those who are counting on them, I would bet, will be sorely disappointed.

    I hate to be so skeptical, and as always I’ll watch and hope for the best, but I can see the logic in the current owner and his management team continuing on, using the financial strength we do have to hold onto our best players while developing a young, relatively deep team that has a pretty good chance of continuing to appear competitive, you know, doing OK in the cups and getting up for 4th in the league.

    It’s an unacceptable situation for a critical mass of the supporters who are being asked to swallow this mundane scenario in addition to even higher ticket prices. But (as I’ve also said before) it could get much, much worse, very quickly. I think this whole AKB, AMG (Knows Best, Must Go) thing is on the verge of exploding. Witness our own discussions here, where nuanced argument has gone out the window in favor of shouted labels. (It would be SO sweet, if people could actually hear what I’m saying here, realize that I’m taking in A LOT of what others are saying, etc. etc. so that we could move forward and stop repeating the various shouts/labels and/or “mantras”….)

    For the moment, however, I’ll drone on…..

    Like I’ve said before, August is HUGE, and bad results, combined with the predicted inactivity as the transfer window, could turn things very ugly, very early. IF we can get through that month on the front foot, it may buy the club the full season to unwind as recent ones have. There’s always the (remote) chance the team will come together, mature faster than expected and exceed (my low) expectations and perhaps nab some low hanging fruit (i.e. a Carling or FA cup). No matter what, Fans should NOT mistake that (best case) scenario as being TRULY competitive.

    If the rosy scenario doesn’t happen, the Must Go crowd may get their wish and it all might unravel sooner than later. Usmanov and Dein are waiting in the wings and appear to be ready to buy out Kronke at yet even higher share prices which (perversely) may end up being the best piece of business yet for the “Walmart Wife” (Kronke) who seems bent on proving that sports franchises can MAKE money. To me it seems very possible that (unless we overacheive hugely) Wenger, the current board and Kronke will all be gone by this time next year and many will get their wish for the sugar-daddy, big money scenario. In other words, I think we’re (finally) getting towards the end-game here…..

    (And OH MY GOD please don’t tell me again how money doesn’t matter….or if you must please just send me some of yours or explain why it’s actually Fulham or Wigan or Sunderland who will battle it out for the league title….)

    Reply
    • HighburyTerraceSteve - July 16, 2011 at 15:19

      @HighburyTerraceSteve, Edit function not working on my big one above, perhaps because I’m working a new username and e-mail….

      So, like I said, I saw the (goalless) 2nd half of today’s friendly and the announcers were going on and on about how much better it was than the first. From what I saw we’ve got some serious issues. We dominated play but couldn’t score…..AND we looked very vulnerable on the break, playing the high back line.

      On the plus side, the recovery pace of the back line is impressive. Gibbs, TV5, LK6 and Jenkinson can all move, which is perhaps the reason that players like Squillaci (and Sylvestre before him), and (to a lesser extent) Djourou look like liabilities in open play. I thought Jenkinson looked pretty solid, whereas Gibbs looks (much) more comfortable going forward (and superior to Clichy) and iffy headed back. His interplay with Miyachi was our best avenue for a goal.

      And that’s because Chamakh was woeful and Theo was very wasteful. The sheer quantity of bad touches by those two will require a VERY resilient defensive effort by the entire squad as we’re bound to lose possession over and over when we shouldn’t. Based on what I saw, I think Management should be pulling all strings out to get Ryo a work permit….the boy looks exciting AND willing to run in ways that I fear Andrey and/or Nasri will not….

      In MF, Ramsey (very rightfooted) and Wilshere (the opposite) look serviceable under no pressure; Song, however, still appears clumsy. He’s got a few solid moves when receiving the ball and he can stroke it decently, but his positioning and lack of pace invites pressure and he often reacts by fouling if a defender gets a toe in on the ball. With Chamakh no target at all, you can’t really fault the MF three too much as they pretty much held possession and were able to get the balls out to Ryo and Theo (and each other and the FBs) as needed. It will be a very long year, however, if Cesc is in Barca or nursing his hamstring.

      Anyways, that’s my take (of matters on the pitch in the 2nd half). Did anybody see the first period?

      Reply
  3. Caribkid - July 16, 2011 at 11:26

    As I have said in the past, Kroenke is not called “Silent Stan” without a reason. He is so silent, even Forbes didn’t realize he was a billionaire until a year after the fact :)

    The Good:
    He does believe in self sustainable financial models and none of his sport franchises are in dire fiscal straits.

    The Bad:
    He is not a hands on owner and believes in selecting the right people to do the job and letting them do it.

    The Ugly:
    The first time you hear from Kroenke himself is when he is explaining why he is about to sell Arsenal to some rich Arab or Russian Billionaire.

    Expecting anything else of Stan is extremely naive based on his history of sport’s ownership. Obviously Gazidis is his man and we will go the way of Gazidis and his smooth, well phrased political stance on every single issue.

    BTW, as promised Arsenal have been very active in the transfer window.

    In: Jenkinson, Gervinho, Olsson, Toral, Bellerin, Siemann

    Out: Clichey, Randall

    Rejected bids: Varane, Henderson, Alvarez

    LANS: Vermaelen, Frimpong

    We are all set to win something in 2016.

    Reply
    • DaAdminGooner - July 16, 2011 at 11:36

      Out: Denilson loan to Sao Paulo confirmed by player and Sao Paulo President

      Likely Out: Bendtner and Almunia.

      New Bid lodged: £14 million for Romelau Lukakau. President of club confirmed.

      Reply
      • Caribkid - July 16, 2011 at 12:28

        @DaAdminGooner,

        I forgot,

        Out: Jens lehman

        Semi LANS (returning from loan):
        Myachi, Vela, Bartley, Traore, JET, and a host of other too long to name.

        Reply

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DaAdminGooner

Founder, editor, writer, designer of YouAreMyArsenal.com. When he’s not following the Arsenal,he’s busy coaching various age groups the right way to play the beautiful game

I am neurotic. Well, Arsenal tends to do that to you and due to this maddening love affair I have with this team across the sea, I rise and fall like everyday (given our current state some times more than 5 times a day.) I love this team and hope it comes through even slightly with this blog.

If I am not here blogging away, I am either working or writing coaching sessions. All in all, I'm loving it. UTA!

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