What is the sound of one Stan talking?

Silent Stan or Quiescent Stan?

The problems at Arsenal Football Club are not going to be solved with a strongly worded statement from the owner. The problems at Arsenal Football Club are endemic and only actions will fix them.

Amy Lawrence wrote an impassioned letter to Stan Kroenke asking that he make it clear what his intentions are for Arsenal. It’s well written, clear, and to the point. It’s also an argument that I have heard a number of times from every quarter of Arsenal supporters and something that I have long puzzled over. People want Stan Kroenke to speak, but what do they want him to say? And just as important, would you believe what he said? I wouldn’t. Because for me, when it comes to judging a man’s plans, I never listen to what they say, I look at what they have done and are doing.

I would personally love it if Kroenke were to give a full explanation of what happened over the last five years, what the plan is for the next five years, and how he plans to get there. But my lifetime’s experience dealing with the wealthy men (and women, rarely) who own sports teams in America has made me jaded about statements made by ownership.

For example, I have never once seen an owner make a revelatory statement about his team. They don’t stand up in front of a crowded room and say things like “none of this is Arsene Wenger’s fault, I’ve been secretly siphoning off the profits to buy multi-million dollar ranches in Colorado” or whatever fantasy statement that some folks imagine Kroenke will make. In fact, if anything, they make obfuscating statements. I remember the Seattle Supersonics owners talking about how they were “losing money” because the city of Seattle refused to use taxes to renovate Key Arena to provide more luxury boxes. They then sold the franchise for a huge profit and the new owners relocated the Sonics to Oklahoma.

Owners here also tend to speak in platitudes. The one about how they want to win is my favorite and it’s actually one we have already heard a number of times from Ivan Gazidis. “The business of football is about winning, we want to win, winning is good, we want to win trophies. Trophies trophies, win win win, rah rah.”

These platitudes cut across all forms of communication with owners. So much so that if Kroenke were to tell me “what he wants from Arsenal” I would be shocked if the statement had more substance than gossamer teardrops. “I want to grow Arsenal into the greatest club the world has ever seen by winning the Champions League, playing with a trademark Arsenal style, and doing so with a good mixture of homegrown players and exceptional talent recruited from all over the world.” Sounds nice but what does it really mean? It doesn’t mean anything unless there’s some action.

And that for me is the real problem with Arsenal. It’s not that there haven’t been enough intention clarifying statements, it’s that there haven’t been enough intention clarifying actions. Or actually, perhaps there have been, perhaps Kroenke’s actions up until this point have clarified his intentions.

That is to say, what, if anything, has Stan Kroenke actually done since taking over? Not much. In fact, his ownership has been marked by lack of action and I would suggest that’s the case because this is the plan. This. This treading water. That’s the plan. I don’t need Kroenke to blow smoke up my ass with some carefully worded statement about his intentions at Arsenal FC because he’s made it very clear that his intentions are to keep calm and carry on.

I’m not suggesting that Stan Kroenke take up the Chelsea model and start firing everyone and everything but there is no doubt that this club needs an injection of fresh ideas and competition at all levels. Fresh faces at the board level, people who understand the game and can keep Kroenke connected to the sport in a way that I don’t think he is right now. From some fresh board members you would get fresh ideas to help generate more revenue, and not more revenue from simply raising ticket prices or fleecing fans with three different kits and 6 different styles of lettering.

Arsenal also need fresh scouts to recruit top players instead of guys like Park, Chamakh, Gervinho, and Squillaci. That would give the squad fresh talent to challenge every player on Arsenal for their starting position: every player, even Jack Wilshere, should have legitimate competition for their position. And yes, Wenger should also be challenged — you can’t tell me that Arsenal losing the exact same way, time and again, hasn’t gotten stale.

So while I understand that people are dying for information from the club about what the plans are and where we are going, Silent Stan has already spoken volumes to me with his (in)actions. If he wants to send a real message, he should do it by building a world class team around Jack Wilshere. And if he wants to see what a world class team looks like, he can attend tomorrow’s match; Bayern Munich will gladly put on a demonstration.


29 thoughts on “Silent Stan or Quiescent Stan?

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Anthony

    I don’t understand people’s obsession with Kroenke.

    Well… that’s not true. I get it, rationally. But, to me, the desire that I cognitively understand isn’t a rational desire. It’s a longing for an emotional piñata to make us all feel better. But I don’t think that anything that we’re seeing is Kroenke’s fault. Now, I don’t think he’s doing anything to obviously resolve the situation either. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t love him. I’m reading “Arsènal: The Making of a Modern Superclub” right now and I can’t help but notice how so much of the stuff we hate has been going on for… a decade? Maybe slightly more?

    Kroenke is a classic American sports owner. He owns the team. And that is all he does. Some rare sports owners in the States are more vocal and involved (Mark Cuban comes to mind), but he is the outlier and was shunned for his lunatic involvement in the franchise (which, by the way, has turned out to be pretty positive in shaping a progressive and aggressive club). There is another outlier in terms of owners: Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He behaves like Arsenal supporters want Kroenke to behave. He writes angry letters to the public in Comic Sans font. He makes proclamations about intentions of greatness. He speaks like a fan.

    And you know what? He sucks. His franchise sucks. He’s ridiculous. And in between the ineffective crazy person and the effective crazy person (George Steinbrenner was both, by the way) are loads of owners just like Kroenke.

    He’s not going to fix this. He’s not breaking this either. Arsenal seems to be rotting from the inside out, from the board down to the scouting. They’re not evil people scheming for the club’s downfall.

    They’re just sucking at their job right now. Pretty much everyone is. I love Arsene Wenger and have defended him more than almost anyone I know. But dammit, if I hear one more putrid quote about not taking the opposition seriously, I’m going to lose my shit on a grand scale. How the hell does the manager and the captain let that happen. Why is the team not grimly running out and saying, “This squad we’re facing sucks balls. Let’s see if we can play them off the pitch in 30 minutes” instead of, “Meh… we’ll probably beat them at some point”?

    It just stinks. It stinks like rot and complacency. The scouting. The contract negotiations that drag on forever. The transfer targets. It all just stinks like acceptable mediocrity.

    And it’s not Kroenke’s fault. He’s not the cause. He’s the man this board chose. He’s not the source of the disease.

    He’s a symptom.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1CarsonWells

      Nice comment mate. Enjoyed almost as much as the post. I do love the emphatic ‘inverse triangle’ finishing-style.

      No upvotes anymore, what’s with that?

      Anyway, I’m afraid we’re seeing the Arsenal fall into Liverpool esque mediocrity. The reason we’re so invested in the 7amkickoff 4th place trophy (patent pending) is because we have competition with Spurs, we have competition with Everton, and we have competition with Liverpool. We don’t have competition with Chelsea, or City, or United. Not in the true sense of the word.

      We have begun to lose our grip on the domination over non-post-Chelsea teams. And yes, it’s Arsene’s fault.

      Let’s make the most of the last year(s) of our legendary boss, eh.

      Chin up, folks.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Comment voting was killing the performance of the site and a major reason why it started crashing all the time. I’m migrating to a new server soon. I’ll reinstall the plugin once everything is looking stable.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Kansas Gunner

      I am an Arsenal fan. I’m English. And I live in Missouri where Stan Kroenke is from -and where his St Louis Rams play. If you watch what’s happening in St Louis and what’s happening at Arsenal, one illuminates the other. Victory, championships are accepted to be the ultimate goal, but no flame is bring turned up under any burner. He has Sam Bradford as playmaker in St Louis, Jack Wilshere as playmaker in London. He knows only 1 of 20 teams can win the Premiership; only 1 of 32 can win the Superbowl. Most teams won’t win either. In that context, there is no fierce burning ambition. I am certain he is a pragmatist, and a slow-burner. The economics of club ownership can point to ‘good enough’ on the sport side, and ‘ good golly miss molly -look at this lolly” on the revenue side. There is A LOT of money coming for these owners from Asia. They are all looking at Asia. The NBA Commissioner made a huge deal of this last week at the All-Star basketball week in Houston. Baseball too. The NFL is increasing games in London this year. Expansion of markets is the burning ambition. Today, Jerry Buss owner of the Los Angeles lakers died, age 80. In the eulogies exploding from ESPN, is a clear picture of a man who risked anything financially to bring superstars to the Lakers. The key is that Jerry Buss died aged 80 and is old school. A boomer. He shares the same passionate romantic heart as many of the shocked boomers among Arsenal fans who want to know where exactly the passion went. It’s too simplistic to just say…well it went to the bank. Bergkamp, Henry, Adams and others weren’t playing in the era of Globalism, But global capitalism -for better or worse- is the era we now live in. And that’s the truer context of the many disappointments of the last 8 years, both at Canary Wharf as well as at the Emirates.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1PJ

        look at who also coaches the Rams. Jeff Fisher as an american football comparison to Wenger, in terms of success and approach is similar; old school, stubborn, had his best success in the early 00′s, but had recent failings with direct rivals.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    The only thing Stan Kroenke is interesting in building is enough capital injection to fuel some long term returns to cover his investment and provide some growth on that capital. This is an investment for him, and so far it’s making lots of money. If it stops making the right amount of money and crosses whatever threshold it takes to make him or his people actually take an active part in the management of the club, then I’ll worry for the future of our club far more than now.

    We are in an Jekyll and Hyde moment if you look at the dichotomy of on-pitch and off-pitch success. If the model I subscribe to above is actually the case, then Kroenke is a non-starter in terms of fixing anything about our club on the pitch.With the amount of his money he has he is also probably far more patient than the average supporter who’ll question paying the highest ticket prices in the league for an inferior product on the pitch.

    Sorry for this cliche, but sport at this level is really all about inches. We lost by 1 goal, 1 shot yesterday. We hit the bar and came so close so many times. We are winning and losing by the narrowest of margins these days. Not nearly enough for a Kroenke type to care. Not yet.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    I feel for Wenger. He’s not going out in a dignified fashion, is he?

    Will anybody be watching the Bayern game, or will you instead save yourself the trouble and gouge your eyes out with a wooden spoon?

    I think I’ll watch the game actually…

    1. Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

      “Abandon all hope ye who enter here…”
      I’ll be watching alright, with a bottle of jack and a copy of Dante’s works for company.

      I cannot imagine what we can possibly do to to beat this team.

      Gomes and Muller at centre-forward, waiting for crosses from Ribery, Kroos and Robben on the wings. Schweinsteiger bossing the midfield (forget his Euro 2012 performance, he is very much back in form), Lahm and Boateng defending with Neuer in net. This is a team that has a plus 50 GD in league play.

      For the them to crash out 2 years in a row to inferior teams? If we can slay this dragon, I’m going right out and spend a a hundred bucks on lottery tickets. Or at least another bottle of jack…

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Beastista

        Fair points @Bunburyist and @1niltotheArsenal. While I share all of our frustrations and fears, I doubt there would be any Arsenal fan who does not look forward to this game.

        We may be playing horribly insecure, and Bayern might just be the best team in the world since Barcelona (TM), but I still remember the trepidation with which I sat and watched Riquelme take that late, late penalty en route to the final against Barcelona (what? a real cup final? with Almunia in goal? I know!).

        This game, I fear ever minute will be like that. If we play an attacking game, I am going to enjoy the passing, regardless of the lack of finishing. If we set up defensively, I am going to enjoy the beasts at the back and hope they match up to the team that defended (and scored) against Barcelona with 10 men.

        Even if they don’t and play horribly, it is going to be one of the great European nights that Arsenal took part in. We can have a moan about it after, but I doubt I am gonna worry too much about the result right now. Right now, the score is 0-0 and that gives us a chance to win it!!

        Give any Arsenal fan the choice between watching the team play and gouging out their eyes, I know which everyone will choose! In fact, the only reason I bet we all aren’t blind is because there is always a next game.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1jeff

    is silent stan going to invest his own money into the squad, no. is he going to sell to someone who would invest thier money into the squad, no. it wont make any difference who is manager, who our scouts are, we cannot get the class of player and pay the wages to make a significant difference. the 4th place cup is the trophy for arsenal each season. except this fact. it wont hurt so much

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Anthony

      Assertion is not argumentation. It’s just assertion. I’m pretty certain that people said the same sort of thing about “second class” clubs like City, Chelsea, PSG, Napoli, etc., but those clubs are doing it. Scouting can immediately help a team on the cheap. We CAN pay the wages for players who are good enough to bump up the level, unless the cash is being diverted out of the club.

      I refuse to accept the 4th is the best we can hope for. I think that embittered line only serves to generate a prophecy that can be fulfilled. Arsenal grew without revenue before and, with much more revenue than a serious majority of clubs, can grow again. It just has to be done better.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1jeff

        before when it was done there wasnt clubs like city, chelsea with thier mega rich owners. we offer a player £2 they will offer £3. how long before jack is offered a mega deal by one of these clubs. we are scouting in the bargin sections. one day we get a cazorla, another day its a gervinho followed by a chamach. these players are not world class players. worl
        d class players go to the clubs that pay the big wages and that is not arsenal

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Anthony

        I have a problem with the term “world class,” mainly because I’m not sure what it means anymore. If there’s only XI world class players out there, then we have none. But I’d consider Santi at least very close to world class. We bought him, didn’t we? I’d say Jack is on his way. We developed him. It CAN be done. We could have afforded Cavani at pretty much any stage of his development and, I’d argue, we still can. We don’t have the bottomless wealth of City, but we have a pile of cash so large that it would seem bottomless to most clubs in the world. And we’re not in for every player that City is or vice versa. City simply CAN’T sign on all the players anymore. Squad places matter at every club. So I reject the notion that we can’t sign world class players anymore. We can. We will again… someday.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      Have to disagree with you mate. Just look on the performance of Dortmund in the past 3 years on a shoe string budget in comparison to the big boys. Look on the over performing teams in the EPL like Swansea and Everton. Look on Juventus, Napoli, Lille last year, etc.

      Based on our revenue and wage bill I would suggest we are under performing. We have one of the best training facilities in the world, a world class stadium and supposedly a great youth set up. based on the above, we should at least be competitive with the big boys and we are definitely not.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1jefffulham

    First time poster but would like to add my opinion on the team I have loved since I was taken to my first game as a 6 year old in 93. I feel that to judge Wenger in the period 2005-2013 you need to establish what criteria to judge him on. Signing players has been very poor, his managerial and tactical flexibility has been equally questionable and with an empty trophy cabinet we are clearly well off where Arsene has had us in the past. But what he has done is steer the club through extremley choppy seas and I feel demonstarted a level of success in that we have competed in the champions league every season. What we have had is a cash injection in 2 other clubs and to realistically compete with them without spending billions would have been impossible. Look how good the invincibles were in 2004- that team still only won the league once as Chelsea would have spent whatever it took to win the league and its the same with City. Now with the FFP starting to gain momentum, and the strong off pitch position we are in thanks almost exclusively to Wenger, we should be looking at offering Wenger a director of football role, and bring in a fresh manager with fresh ideas and ultimately fresh players. I am convinced that Wenger was as good as we could have had given the choppy economic peiord of 2005 to 2013 and what he did was nothing short of miraculous in terms of gkeeping us competitive while the stadium project was ongoing. But in every walk of life change occurs and Wenger is displaying poor managerial descisions that I as one of his biggest fans, cannot defend. Facts are the team needs a complete overhaul in goal and defence, fact is the players he has brough in have not been up to standard, and I feel we could be a real force again with Wenger in the boardroom working on finances, and a coach with modern ideas coming into the Arsenal

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      Unfortunately, Arsene has never truly shown the ability to trust or work hand in hand with hired help. Till today, he still conducts every training session. The wage bill is based on his socialistic belief. Transfers are still his full domain as is all matters of football operations down to the training and medical facilities.

      He has clearly shown no desire to delegate.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    Interesting responses from David Dein, Arsene’s best friend.


    ” Purslow presses Dein on two points. Stadium debt is now at a manageable level, TV money is about to go through the roof, and increased sponsorship deals will soon top up match day revenues of £93m. With revenue “exploding”, will Arsène Wenger ever spend the going rate for a world class player? Dein’s answer suggested no.

    “Arsène is a teacher. He takes a good player and makes them excellent, he takes an excellent player and makes them world class.”

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Before the move to the new stadium, Wenger’s contract was up for renewal. He had dinner with several members of the board and they asked him “Arsene if we handed you £100m in transfer kitty what would you do with it?” His answer was “Give it back.”

      That’s according to Arsenal the making of a modern superclub.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        That was a joke. In his interview with Martin Samuel (I think) in 2009(again, I think), he was asked the same question and he considered it and asked if he had to spend it on a number of players or just one. When told it was up to him, he said he’d spend it on one player. The one player who he felt could justify that price tag and push the team to another level.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        These were the relevant quotes

        You seem to think there are dangers in buying players, though, that it upsets the social dynamic of the club; but suppose somebody said you had to do it? Suppose you were going to be sacked if you did not spend £100m this summer: would, in the end, Arsenal be better for it next season?
        Do I spend it on one player, like Real Madrid, or a number?
        Up to you.
        OK, I’m not against that. If you have the money and you find the one player who can make you win and make the difference, no matter how expensive he is you should do it. But there are not many players in the world who will make a real difference.

        Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1206377/ARSENE-WENGER-INTERVIEW-The-transcript-Martin-Samuels-fascinating-meeting-Arsenal-manager–I.html#ixzz2LKv62ZyY
        Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1dy

      but what if he takes a poor player ? What does he make him into ? A mediocre one of course, and that’s the real problem at Arsenal right now.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    it’s a sad coincidence that we’re talking about this man on the day that the greatest owner in american professioal sports, Dr. Jerry Buss, has succumbed to his illness and passed away.for so many years Dr. Buss reached into his pocket, didn’t care about the luxury tax and as a result we in Los Agneles got to watch Magic and Worthy, Shaq, and finally Kobe and Pau. he lost millions in salary, but he didn’t care, the Lakers are about winning titles, and through his selflesness he won 5 with Magic, three with Shaq, and finally two more with Kobe and Pau. He didn’t make statements, he just banked players to stay. When Kobe wanted to leave in 08, he paid top price, gave up Marc Gasol (who was our player) and got us Pau, and Pau was instrumental in our winning two straight titles and going to the Finals three straight times. Dr. Buss never talked to the media, he never made statements, he just won. That’s what the Lakers are about. Winning, And although we suck now, the Lakers will get one of either LeBron James or Kevin Durant in 2014, because we are a winning organization. That’s the culture here, Stanley Kroenke owns every team in St. Louis, and one in Denver, but the one team in St, Louis he doesn’t own is the St. Louis Cardinals. they’ve won two world series titles in 4 years, they are the best team in the midwest. they’ve been free of him, they dumped Pujols and still made it to the late end of the playoffs, and they will still be a favorite to win the World Series next year. I don’t care if Kroenke speaks or not. He has spoken with his actions, he sold Fabregas, he sold RvP, after Wenger publicly stated that selling your best players shows a lack of ambition (given this was regarding Cesc and that french lesbian City is about to sell to Monaco : ) Frankly i wish Kroenke would fuck off. He’s a speculator, and he doesn’t care about winning. Carmelo to New York, van Persie to United, this is who Kroenke is. Usmanov is only concerned with winning. He is a new Abromovic, and Abromovic has won 9 trophies in 10 years. he doesn’t talk to the media. What is happening to Arsene Wenger is a travesty. Usmanov pursued an injunction against Arseblog, so the whole Arsenal blogosphere got butthurt, and now insists he has money to spend and he’s an ignorant ideologue. he doesn’t, he is forced to sell his best players every year. Arsenal does not deserve Arsene Wenger. Arsenal has become a shitty little club, just like the Nuggets. Wenger should go to PSG and win again. The suggestion he has money and is not spending it is insulting. It is a lie. Bloggers ingratiating themselves to the power structure of the new Arsenal. Which is built on fucking lies

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1ignatzuk

    Given their philosophies and interests, Kroenke and Arsenal are a match made in heaven.

    Arsenal was attractive to Kroenke because it has always been run on a financially even keel, and was vastly underperforming in terms of its commercial revenue streams. As an investment, for someone who knows sports, Arsenal was a no-brainer.

    From Arsenal’s point of view, their number one priority was to maintain their stability, their financial independence and guarantee their long-term survival. But they knew they were a juicy, fat, sitting duck, so they needed the protection afforded by a majority stakeholder who would sit back, let the club grow its business without loading up with debt, extracting value and/or selling off assets. Kroenke was perfect.

    Now, you can argue it would have been better for the club for them to find a rich owner who would pump in their personal wealth, like Abramovich or Mansour (or Jerry Buss). But this goes against the club’s philosophy of financial stability and independence.

    And I agree with Tim (although he seems to see it in a more negative light than I do): I don’t understand these demands for Kroenke to speak out. If he were a different kind of owner then maybe, but I’m very happy for him to shut up, sit back, let the board run the club and watch his share prices rise. And my strong feeling is that, given we are never going to see fan ownership in my lifetime, this is the best ownership model we could hope for.

    The question of whether more money should be invested in players’ fees and salaries is one for Arsenal’s management team, not the owner, and I sincerely hope that it stays that way.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1blazon

    i’m really all for Asimov
    and if you tell me to fuck off
    i’ll argue that Kroenke
    that passionless donkey
    has fed too often at the trough.

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