Why massive Arsenal staff & squad overhaul must be embraced


The place is becoming unrecognisable - and fast. Whether it's on the pitch, in the dugout or around the front office. Arsenal are undergoing an overhaul like no other.
Aaron Ramsey. Danny Welbeck. Petr Cech. And Stephan Lichtsteiner. They've all been shown the door by Unai Emery. But the manager won't stop there. Laurent Koscielny's up for sale. Mesut Ozil is being offered to anyone who'll take him. And Granit Xhaka is being chased around Europe by Italian reporters demanding answers about Inter Milan.
Emery has been decisive. Ruthless. And this clearout doesn't stop at the locker room. Darren Burgess, who was installed as head of performance before Emery's arrival, is the latest to be moved on. The Aussie, formerly with Liverpool, informed he was no longer wanted in the wake of Arsenal's humbling in Baku. However, the suggestion he was the scapegoat for Arsenal's thrashing in that Europa League final is wide of the mark. But Emery wanted a change. For the Basque, Burgess wasn't the right fit. And rather than muddle on hoping for a better outcome next season, he and the club's front office chose to act. Just as they'd done in regards to Ramsey and Welbeck. The wait-and-see culture. The hesitation. The procrastination of the previous regime. That's now a thing of the past. As any fan can see from his histronics on the touchline. Emery is demanding things are done to his standards - and immediately. An approach that sits well with the current front office. The manager in synch with powerbrokers Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham.
The result of which is a club with barely any long time stalwarts in place. It's gone from one extreme to the other. Where Emery's predecessor, Arsene Wenger, protected his staff to the hilt. Some with the Frenchman for as long as two decades. Today, a clearout that began in that final 12 months of Wenger's 22-year reign, has the place looking like a start-up. A group of mercenaries pulled together from all corners of the globe - with Edu Gaspar the latest. The Brazilian due in London after the Copa America to take up the reins as the club's new technical director.
Mercenary is a bit harsh. But the spirit of it is still the same. Indeed, it was Aussie Burgess who Ivan Gazidis, the club's former chief exec, hired to essentially push out Wenger's old crew. Tony Colbert and the popular Colin Lewin were the shown the door, as several of Wenger's long time training ground allies, including Neil Banfield and Gerry Peyton were also forced out. Burgess, it is said, paid with his job for helping Gazidis oversee this gutting of Wenger's past team. The changes, particularly Lewin, not sitting well with players and several remaining members of staff.
But as mentioned, rather than hope things blow over - as was the past approach - Emery acted. There'll be a new man occupying Burgess' soon to be vacant office at London Colney. Another new face for players and staff to welcome.
Is it too much? Are all these changes happening too soon? For this column, the answer's 'no'. However, it could be a case of Arsenal taking one step back next season in order to make several giant strides over the coming decade.
The players. The staff. This overhaul is what has been demanded from the majority of the Gunners support for years. The fans wanted change. It had become a mantra. Well, they bloody well have it now.
And it should be embraced. For every staffing departure. Every player release. There's reasons for it. The club was meandering in those final years under Wenger. The players were indulged. It was too comfortable. Too nice. And the ambition was dulling.
Today? Well, you can't accuse this Arsenal. Emery's Arsenal. You can't accuse them of a lack of direction. Of purpose. Well, that is for everything that is happening below board level.
But even then, while there is genuine cause for complaint. Even anger. Over the paltry £40m handed to Emery for this summer's market. To their credit, the board are acting on the situations of both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Those enquiries from China and Barcelona respectively kicking management into action with plans to upgrade both strikers' deals. It's questionable whether the same instant reaction would have occurred during the previous era. Again, a change of approach. Of attitude. And something that is needed.
The place is changing. Personalities. Characters. They're all being turned over. And quickly. But after those latter years of Wenger, it is something that needed to be done.

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