A little over two years ago, Arsene Wenger bid adieu to Arsenal Football Club, paving the way for a new era in the club's history that sought to re-calibrate how operations are conducted.
Fast forward to present day, and the three board members - among other staff - who collaborated to appoint his successor, Unai Emery, have departed the club.
What's happened there? Change is afoot in north London, but just how and why certain decisions have been made need delving into. Hopefully the following offers some clarity.
Ivan Gazidis's Previous Vision
Even before the Wenger chapter concluded, former chief executive Ivan Gazidis had a new vision in place for how the club would operate moving forward. Gazidis' plan was to assemble a team of executives, shifting away from the level of power one man, Wenger, had.
Key scout Sven Mislintat and director of football Raul Sanllehi - a position Wenger was strenuously against as it would lessen his influence - were brought in, with the end goal of modernising the club's approach to match those of the more established clubs in Europe. It was a long-term ambition that would provide stability, whether or not the manager in the hotseat was up to the task.
If the manager fails, they'll get a new one. But the board would remain in place.
This canvas has now been painted over. All the inner workings of Gazidis' plan, one that ultimately failed, have been torn up. Gazidis left the club, with Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham ushered in to plug the gap.
The Departures of Raul Sanllehi, Numerous Scouts & Other Roles
Before Sanllehi's sudden farewell, Edu was brought in as technical director to be the final piece of the Arsenal puzzle. It seemed, for once, that the foundations were set for a fruitful post-Wenger model – especially after Emery was relieved of his duties.
That has, however, fallen apart again. Confirmation of Sanllehi's departure threw another curveball. A man who was credited with having a huge say in the club-record £72m purchase of Nicolas Pepe, as well as boasting various contacts across Europe, has left.
The overarching feeling is one of mismanagement and poor recruitment. Far too many of the dealings he oversaw have failed to bear fruit, while the list of failures in the transfer department cast a dark cloud over the Spaniard's tenure. The Kroenkes deserve to shoulder much of the blame, but they've opted to take action at this stage in a bid to stabilise, giving Sanllehi just a couple of weeks of the transfer window to, seemingly, prove them wrong.
Ironically, it was Sanllehi who announced the club's decision to make 55 staff redundant, unwittingly signing off his own termination letter. Countless scouts have had their contracts cancelled, with the club coming to terms with the need to streamline their business operations.
Above all, placing Venkatesham in his position as the sole linchpin indicates the desire for one leading voice. A man who has been with the club for a decade, is highly thought of in the industry and who is utterly dedicated to making Arsenal succeed. Apparent interior conflict rumbled on with Sanllehi in the post, therefore the decision to relieve him of his duties in line with entering a clearer, less interrupted route.
Craving someone with extensive contacts and experience in big transfers was a mantra the club have swiftly steered clear of. A reassessment of the money Arsenal have spent, at a time where funding is thin on the ground, will have no doubt helped lead to this decision. Corporate lawyer Tim Lewis, a trusted associate of the Kroenkes, joining the board in July is no coincidence.
Mikel Arteta's Role & the New Structure
All of the backroom decisions just add to the array of challenges Mikel Arteta has faced since he took over the role. More issues to contend with in his first eight months of management than most bosses will face at any one club, there was concern over his standing in all of this.
In fact, what has occurred comes as a direct result of the rookie coach's fine start to managerial life. His workings both on and off the pitch have garnered widespread praise, and now Arteta will be able to offer his input into transfers in a more cohesive manner. He and technical director Edu will identify the areas of the team that need strengthening, with contract negotiator Huss Fahmy (the sole survivor of Gazidis' appointments) being tasked with acquiring those targets.
As Venkatesham has already stated, those plans are already in the works.
What will remain, however, is a more contact-led approach. Gone are the days of extensive scouting from the far reaches of the globe, where stats-based analytics were fundamental in identifying the right players. Of course, the pursuit of Thomas Partey demonstrates that this won't be the only avenue the club will pursue, although the increasingly influential Kia Joorabchian, for example, highlights that who you know, not what you know, is more prevalent.
The new structure, if anything, is more in line with the Wenger era. The Frenchman was in charge of so much of the dealings. Arteta does not want that degree of control, but the relationship of him and Edu resembles that of David Dein and Wenger's partnership, in many ways.
Venkatesham stressed that the reshuffle will not impact the club's aims in this, and the following, transfer market. It will, however, alter the approach to a degree, as the finances that have been overstretched can not be maintained if there is to be a healthy, sustainable model in the years to come.
Source : 90min