Ivan Gazidis - an open letter

This is a letter left for us in the comments section by one of our fellow Addict readers that we thought was worthy of additional exposure:

Dear Mr. Gazidis

Before I begin, please let me state that I am in no way the type of person who has a knee jerk reaction to a football match result. However, the concerns I am about to reveal have been simmering for a while and I suspect many other Arsenal fans feel the same, some even more so.

Firstly, I am a great admirer of the way Arsene Wenger has operated under the financial constraints placed upon him due to the move to the new stadium. To have consistently delivered champions league football as a result of this has to be admired.

Although the role you now occupy is newly created, the player transfer & contract negotiations segment was performed by Mr. David Dein for a number of years until his departure in 2007. He oversaw the successful conversion of our old stadium to an all-seater in late 1994. He gave an interview in a newspaper, in which he said “we have a world class stadium – now we need a team to play in it”. Subsequently, he played a huge part in not only bringing in world class players (Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires) but also in keeping them at the club. He delivered on his statement.

Your tenure so far has brought in players like Arshavin and Vermaelen, and we are ever so grateful for the important part you played in recruiting them. However, the following points are causing the fans some anxiety, and although I do not expect you to divulge answers to each and every one, I do hope that you will take them on board and consider their implications.

• The number one goalkeeper (Manuel Almunia) has made some grave errors of judgement, particularly in the big games, and his record in coming out for crosses and making match defining saves is somewhat few and far between (I can only think of Manchester United away in the Champions League last season). He has cost the side points (both Manchester United games this season), and our perception of him is that he does not instill confidence in our defenders. With both Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone having done better than Almunia in the games they have played, is it not ideal for the manager to give them a chance seeing as our current goalkeeper is not making a positive difference?

• Our player options up front have been decimated with multiple injuries, yet no reinforcements have been brought in, even on loan to just cover for the amount of time that the injuries will take to recover (namely the absence of Robin van Persie). Why are we constantly told that there is money to spend (“up to £30m on one player if Arsene so chooses” – quoted from Peter Hill-Wood) but when there are options to bring in one player on loan (Klaas Jan-Huntelaar) we still stick to our depleted resources, the folly of which was laid bare last Sunday when we created chances but had no one to put them away

• The impression I get is that the defensive side of our game is lacking in that we do not know how to play when the opposition has the ball. If Arsene cannot adequately address this on the training pitch himself, would it not be prudent to bring in a defensive coach who can? We did employ Martin Keown in 2005-06 to do such a thing, and the result was that we did not concede one goal in 6 Champions League knockout games involving Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal.

• I do not advocate a laissez faire attitude to transfer spending, but without requisite investment in our squad at times which require for it to happen, we run the risk of being left behind. By all means, if the young players are maturing and fulfilling their potential then all is well and good, but competition for places is a good thing in that it eradicates complacency and makes the players try harder. What really rankles with us is that Manchester United no longer have the services of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, with Chelsea’s ageing squad a year older, but the games in which we have played them this season have showed no signs of us catching them up in terms of ability to challenge them. This is not acceptable as one of the things Arsene has said is that the team will mature with experience, something we (the fans) have not yet seen. If we were to play either of these sides in the Champions League this season, then it is not inconceivable that our team will get humiliated once more.

• With a majority of fans skeptical about our chances to challenge for (let alone win) the remaining two competitions that we are involved in, there is a huge risk that many will vote with their feet and simply refuse to renew their season tickets for next season. When they already pay the highest prices in the whole of the division, and with the constant selling of the future that Wenger always falls back on, with no player investment or big name players that we can look to when games like last Sunday are going against us, then you really cannot blame them. We pay the wages of these players, but when you realize that the performances of players like Almunia and Denilson will not see them replaced in the starting eleven, then it appears that Wenger is more concerned with protecting their morale than trying to get our club at a competitive level.

I apologise if I have overstepped the mark in my criticisms, but these are valid concerns for us Arsenal fans. Please can you ensure that these are relayed back to Arsene Wenger, and that the trust of the fans is seen not to be taken for granted.

Many thanks for your time in reading this.