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Could Josh Kroenke Be Arsenal’s Unintended Savior?

Arsenal are at a crossroads. We have no idea which way we are going and with the man ultimately in charge (Stan Kroenke) of things we wonder if he’d even take the right path. So it is with wonder and bemusement we try and figure out what exactly his son, Josh Kroenke is doing with his extended stay at Arsenal.

Back in January and February every newspaper and media outlet led with a story that the younger Kroenke, who had been appointed by his dad as a non-executive director to the Arsenal board, was spending at least three months immersing himself in all things Arsenal.

This was at the time seen as a substantial move by the absentee owner who is hardly ever seen or engaged with his London club. As you can expect social media was rife with speculation as to what this really meant.

At 37 years old, Josh is the President of 2 of KSE major sports franchises – the Denver Nuggets (NBA) and the Colorado Avalanche (NHL) and he is an alternative governor (vice-president) of the MLS Colorado Rapids.  He is widely believed to be the heir-apparent to the entire KSE conglomerate.

The question we have to ask is could Josh really be the ultimate decider of needed change at Arsenal? Could a man who doesn’t really know that much about the ins and outs of the football club really set them on a trajectory to a new future?

That is the big question isn’t it?

We don’t know what the purpose of his fact finding mission has been. We can only surmise it was to learn the operations and possibly be put into a position of control on the board. Stan right now has his hands full with the Rams move to LA. The NFL doesn’t suffer absentee owners. So Stan has to be involved in ensuring the success of his big gamble. That leaves him little time for anything else.

Hence why we think Josh has been dispatched for an extended stay in London. With the new staff hires, the need for improved commercial deals and the uncertainty about Arsene Wenger, maybe Kroenke the elder has dispatched Josh to work with Ivan on guiding us into the post-Arsene era.

About two weeks ago, maybe less a lot of blogs and people on social media were using the analogy of Stan’s firing of Jeff Fisher from the Rams and subsequent hiring of Sean McVay as evidence that Stan could be open to discarding mediocrity for a young and upcoming coach.

While it does bare some merit, the better analogy may be Josh Kroenke’s firing of Denver Nuggets coach, George Karl in 2013 that bares more examination.

George Karl had been head coach of the NBA team for 9 years. They had bounced around from mediocrity to flirting with greatness never quite achieving the ultimate goal of winning an NBA title, however, 29 days before Karl was sacked, he was awarded the NBA Coach of the Year award for his work that season.

Prior to the firing and even winning the award, Nugget leadership was steadfast that they’d retain Karl through the final year of his contract, which ran out of the end of the next season. However, as we now know that did not happen.

Josh Kroenke who at the time was only 33 years old, informed the newly minted coach of the year that he would not be bringing him back for the final year of his contract. The rationale was two-fold. First, the team leadership was uncomfortable with how Karl was angling for a contract extension AND second, they were upset with how Karl was flirting with another team, the LA Clippers for their head coach job. Ultimately these two factors led Kroenke to make the move.

Josh Kroenke holds Arnie an English Bulldog

He’s got good taste in dogs

When you think about an underperforming Wenger, who may still win the Europa League and end the year on a pseudo-high, the George Karl analogy is similar.

We will enter the summer with Wenger on the last year of a contract. In the last year of his last deal, it created a morass of uncertainty around the club and Wenger admitted it hampered the club as they closed out the year.

Additionally, we are falling short of even our minimum target – finishing in the top 4 without any sign that improvement on the field is forthcoming.

Even with one year left on his deal, as much as Wenger argues he plans on seeing it out, Josh could be around to inform his dad that it is in fact time to move on and bring in new blood.  As we’ve shown in Kroenke-land, it isn’t without precedent.

Now, that being said, I am and have always been anti-Kroenke. I’ve written multiple stories on why the Kroenke (The Campaign to Can Stan Has to Start Now and  Stan Is Not the Man For Arsenal) approach doesn’t work in the Premier League. The Premier League to an extent like the NFL, requires a level of engagement from the owners – even if they cede some of the control to a Chairman, CEO or President. Stan has shown none of it.

I am not sure even Josh’s extended stay is sign that this is changing. Remember this is a man (kid??) who is running 2 possibly 3 other major sports teams. Where is his focus? Can he possibly be spread too thin?

Still, Josh is an articulate young man, who played sport (basketball) at the collegiate level and he is not without understanding of the challenges in the modern game. He spoke recently on the Woj podcast (an NBA focused podcast) about the core of Arsenal and what was behind Victory through Harmony as he tried to extend that into his other teams.

We also know anecdotally that Josh was not in favor of extending Arsene this last time. I am dying for a makeover to this club. A youthful makeover with energy that takes over the staid, frustrating smell that lingers at Arsenal now. Josh Kroenke’s stay at Arsenal could be the opening salvo into something bigger – even him replacing Sir Chips at the top of the board food chain. It could also be the spearhead of a new project at Arsenal, that hopefully would lead us back to our place in the English game.

While we’ve been rightly wary and frustrated by the Kroenke involvement in Arsenal, maybe, just maybe Josh Kroenke will be the unintended savior of this club?

You can listen to Josh on the Woj Pod here but be warned mention of Arsenal is minimal but it does give some insight into the man:

Josh Kroenke shares a laugh with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry

Josh is a big fan of Thierry Henry




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