After a disappointing second place finish in the Premier League last season, Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis said the team needs to win major trophies this season, and is currently feeling the pressure to deliver.
Going into the season, the Gunners have one of the best odds to win the Premier League.
Since their famous unbeaten season 12 years ago, Arsenal haven’t won the Premiership. However, they did end a nine-year major title drought when they won the FA Cup in 2014 (did you notice?).
Arsenal were able to defend their FA Cup title in 2015, but are still searching for their first Premier League title since 2004, while also trying to advance past the round of 16 in the Champions League for the first time since 2010.
Last season, they were in first place for most of the first half of the year, but injuries caught up with the team and they ended up finishing second to surprising league winners Leicester City, who finished 10 points clear of the Gunners. This you all know.
While Gazidis says the team has to win now, and that they are feeling a lot of pressure to win, he also said the team would not be breaking the bank to bring in new players.
However, the biggest point of criticism is the fact that the team hasn’t been spending money on players, opting to go with guys from their youth academy, while other big clubs in Europe are signing the top players in the world. A noble ambition, but not a winning one if these players are not supplemented with experience and talent.
In an interview while in the US on tour, Gazidis said the team was disappointed and frustrated about the second place finish last year because it wasn’t what the team was aiming for. He believes consistency is the key to Arsenal’s success, and that will provide the team with an opportunity to compete at the level they want, and to win it all. Fans aren’t so sure.
Arsene Wenger more than anyone else is hoping the team can win a major title to end his current drought. After last season’s finish, some Wenger fans turned against the Frenchman, and many feel this might be his final season in charge of the club if he can’t guide the team to the league title.
The fact that Wenger’s contract expires after this season also adds some credibility to those that believe it is a make or break year for him.
Gazidis said the board of directors are supportive of Wenger, and not because of what he has done for the club in the past. Gazidis said the board believes Wenger is dedicated to the club, and carries himself with class. Gazidis also said he believes Wenger has a positive vision of how the game should be played.
Gazidis added that while some people might think he and the board are being naïve when it comes to Wenger, he doesn’t view it as such.
He said that winning games, with style and grace, are the core values of Arsenal and Wenger is someone they believe can deliver that.
Let’s hope so.