Did we learn anything from the AST meeting with Ivan Gazidis?

By Avenell Dave

Whatever you think of how Arsenal has been run in the last few years, the fact that the club puts its Chief Executive forward to answer uncensored questions has to be a good thing.

Some of the questions hit the nail on the head about the fans’ frustrations, some were a little obscure and random, but Gazidis did what he should have done.

He admitted that he shared our frustrations, he sympathised with our concerns and that everyone at the club was pulling together to try to make sure next season doesn’t end in the same way the last few seasons have done. 

Yes, he hinted that there will be a fair amount more turnover in playing staff this summer than we have seen before – and that has to be the case, even though we got no reassurance that the club won’t leave it until the last minutes of the last hour of the transfer window on August 31.

Tellingly, Gazidis spoke about Financial Fair Play in a way that suggested to me that while the rules should prevent the mass unsecured spending by clubs that we simply cannot compete with, this may be OUR last summer to push the boat out before falling back into line.

We all know that our net spend has been minimal over the years and that’s not likely to change in the big scheme of things.

Graham McNorthbank suggested to me afterwards that it would have been an ideal time for the club to announce a new signing – a signal of intent to raise the spirits.

I know what he means, but it could also have been seen as a cheap shot by a board desperate to get the fans back onside. It just isn’t the way Arsenal do things.

Time will tell how the summer pans out. Will Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy or Andrey Arshavin even leave the club?

Whoever leaves, we need more players to bolster the squad than departures – we cannot expect Ignasi Miquel and Henri Lansbury to step up and fill the gaps – and we need to sign some players to get the fans excited.

He conceded that when players are letting games slip rather than ‘closing them out’ on a regular basis, things have to change and there is no greater critic of himself and the problems we all see than Arsene Wenger.

Gazidis understandably couldn’t reveal any names of players coming or going but after one questioner asked him about the possibility of David Dein coming back – which would essentially make his own position impossible – he must appreciate that the pressure is on to prove that he and his team can deliver the changes in personnel required to get us winning trophies again.

While he remained open to standing areas, will review the ticket exchange and how the attendance is announced, I’d be surprised if there are any significant changes in those areas.

Likewise, despite the questioning, did anyone really expect him to stand up and say what the plan is when Wenger leaves, or even undermine the current coaching staff by talking of bringing in fresh faces and in particular a defensive coach?

Essentially, we learnt nothing new at the meeting.

Everyone is hurting, from the board to the manager and the fans.

What needs to happen now is that those players who don’t hurt for days after a defeat or play for profit rather than pride (the opposite of what Gazidis said was important for the club) need to be moved on.

And the club needs to signal its intent to the fans, the stellar players and the rest of the Premier League that next season we mean business.

There is so much at stake. We have to believe that the club will deliver.