The Sporting Director To Do List

Opinion

Ok, so the word is out, no I didn’t read it in the job centre but, every sports newspaper going, Arsenal are advertising for a sports director. There are many different ideas of what people say the job fully entails, but it’s widely thought, this is a move to lessen the load on the first team manager, whoever that be.

Obviously, this is mostly about who signs the players and sets the structures for sports science, recruitment, scouting and the Academy. It marks a needed change and some will say it’s overdue when looking at the way Arsenal have gone about forming the first team and youth teams in recent years.

What’s needed?

Team Structure

Recently there has been a lot of envy and hype at the youth potential of Borussia Dortmund and even Tottenham, this is because, especially in Dortmund’s’ case, they have gone out of their way to have a long-term transfer strategy. It does seem that gone are the days of Arsenal being the name on everyone’s lips when you talk of the potential in teams, now it appears every transfer is made with the short term in mind, sure there may be the odd Sanogo who turns up but, they are few and far between. Why is it that players like Ousmane Dembele, Djibril Sidibe and others choose Dortmund, or even Monaco instead of high profile Arsenal?

So, this is what needs to be addressed, every transfer should be either a superstar that fits in and improves the team or a young wonderkid with the world at his feet. Under no circumstances should you feel a player is just a stop gap or a last resort, this team needs to be knitted together skilfully.

Here are just a few players I’d be targeting:

GK Ederson
LB Juan Bernat
LB Raphaël Guerreiro
CB Virgil van Dijk
CM Naby Keïta
CM Radja Nainggolan
CM Franck Kessié
CM Ronaldo Vieira
AM Christian Pulisic
FW Ryan Sessegnon
FW Romelu Lukaku
FW Breel Embolo

Sport science

A major problem at Arsenal has been the amount of injuries sustained by key players, that have led to seasons practically being written off due to the reliance on them. Why is it so often the case that Arsenal players appear to be made of glass?

New measure’s need to be brought in to make players faster, stronger and more durable. Arsenal can’t keep wasting seasons, money and players on the current system.

Ambition

In the mid-2000’s there was an influx of cash and flush new owners all promising big things for their new teams, be that Chelsea or Man City, all demanding league and European titles. Many a manager has even achieved to a title for his club but it’s still not been enough.

Now look at Arsenal, a team happy to merely qualify for the Champions league, a team that always appears to merely do enough when it comes to the transfer market. Mesut Ozil is the only player that when joining Arsenal was considered an elite football player, every other player has been just that group below that…B+ players if you will.

This obviously needs to change, if Arsenal are to be considered one of the best, if not the best teams in Europe, then they need to demand excellence, if a player is not good enough, he doesn’t play or get signed, if the manager isn’t delivering he gets replaced.

Let’s make this clear though, Arsenal are a great club with a huge tradition of class, being the gentlemen of the English game, doing things in The Arsenal way. Just because there should be this new ambition and a demand for excellence, doesn’t mean The Arsenal way, must be abandoned, the club needs to do things with more class than other teams that won’t give time to players or managers to succeed. Arsenal can’t go all gung-ho and start spending all the money it has saved over the years like a Fresher student on its first night out. Books need to be balanced and that’s why I’d suggest bringing in a David Dein type figure if not the man himself, to make sure the club stays just that bit safer to the black than other teams while achieving ambitious goals.