Is it Mission Impossible for Ivan Gazidis, the new Arsenal CEO who officially started work at the club yesterday?
If some of the fans are to be believed, we’re doomed – and certainly by the number of empty seats on Saturday, we’ve got a fair number of fair-weather fans who only want to see the ‘big’ games. Good riddance I say.
If the last year or so has proved anything, it’s that Arsène Wenger’s talents are on the pitch and not in the role of ‘manager’ where transfer business is required. He wants to focus on nurturing rather than doing business.
That’s where we’ve missed David Dein immeasurably and the appointment of Gazidis comes at a crucial time for the club.
So, Mr Gazidis, just in case you were in any doubt about the task ahead of you, here’s a list of the things you need to sort out NOW if Arsenal are not to have their worst season in more than a decade....
1. Sign up Theo Walcott on a ridiculously long contract with incremental bonuses and payments based on goals, appearances and trophies.
2. Sign up Robin van Persie on a similar deal, with appearance fees a key factor.
3. Help Arsène Wenger sign THREE players in the January transfer window. The criteria are as follows:
* A 6ft 4in+ centre back aged 26/27, who puts his head where studs fly, can pass the ball and is great in the air. Preferably in part-exchange for William Gallas.
* A young terrier of a central midfielder who dictates play from the back, wins tackles all day long, has a ferocious shot on him and an engine capable of enduring the Le Mans 24 hour race.
* A two-footed, fast attacking midfielder capable of scoring 15 goals a season, with a body made of titanium. Preferably in part-exchange for Nic Bendtner or Manu Eboue.
4. Ensure we never let decent players get within sight of the end of their contracts again (such as Mathieu Flamini, Robert Pires, Edu).
5. Stabilise the boardroom by ensuring that Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s shares are sold to someone with integrity or, ideally, a current board member with no intention of selling them on.
6. Rip up the sponsorship deals with Nike and Emirates (for the shirts at least in the case of the latter) and replace them with more lucrative deals in keeping with the profile of the club. [I know this one will be tricky given the financial climate but Emirates are not paying market rates and Nike’s products have been very poor].
7. Provide a new, Arsenal-style commercial sponsor who will provide value and opportunities for both the club and supporters and ensures that there is not only transfer cash available but also keeps season tickets frozen for the next five years.
8. Arrange a bi-monthly meeting with representatives from all the recognised Arsenal Supporters’ Clubs to exchange open and honest dialogue between club and fans.
9. Change the names of the different zones in Emirates Stadium: yellow, orange blue and green Quadrants are not befitting of a club with such a rich history. There are many simple ways that this could be changed - the North Bank and Clock Ends could be recreated and split into the Woolwich, Highbury, Chapman and Bastin quarters, for instance. Or even split into different long-term sponsors, if you're looking to generate additional revenues.
10. Renegotiate the catering contracts at the stadium. It's ridiculous that the vast majority of fans are unable to get a pint of lager during Champions League games simply because the club has tied itself to an inflexible deal with a brewery that doesn't happen to be a Champions League sponsor.
This is your mission, Mr Gazidis, now you've chosen to accept it.
Can you think of more pressing matters for Ivan to deal with? Then share them here using our comments section.