Upson: Wenger could not work with director of football at Arsenal
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Former Gunners defender not surprised by Frenchman’s comments
Former Arsenal defender Matt Upson was not surprised to hear Arsene Wenger play down talk of a new director of football being employed by the club this week.
Wenger, whose future has been the subject of much debate throughout the season, appeared to scoff at suggestions of a new post being created at the Emirates during a press conference in midweek.
And Upson, who won a Premier League winner’s medal at Highbury in 2002, can understand why the Frenchman reacted in the way he did.
“With everything that Arsene Wenger has succeeded with in his career, in the set-up that he has been used to, I’m not sure if he’d be able to work with a director of football, which he himself appears to have ruled out with his recent comments,” said Upson.
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“It’s understandably difficult to change and adapt to that. The person that they would have to bring in has to have the same level of power and experience as Arsene Wenger, so who are you going to choose to fill that role? Very few can match his experience or power in the game.
“A manager and a director of football may have moments where they have differences of opinion and Arsene has, for many years, enjoyed control without having anyone in that position.
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“If you add the role now, Arsene Wenger may feel distracted by it and that could be bad from the get-go. If you’re going to have a director of football in place, I think perhaps it may be better to implement one, if and when the club appoint a new manager.
“David Dein had a fantastic relationship with Arsene Wenger and it is well documented that he dealt with all the transfer dealings between clubs – they both supported and respected each other because David was already a massive figure at the club and one who personally brought Arsene in. I wonder if Arsene Wenger feels if he can replicate that relationship with anyone else.”
Arsenal travel to Stoke City looking to maintain their outside hopes of claiming a Champions League spot, following their 2-0 win at Southampton on Wednesday.
Disappointing away defeats at West Brom and Crystal Palace have contributed to them finding themselves outside the top four as the season draws to a close and Upson feels some changes need to be made to restore them to former glories, adding: “From the manager to the board, to the coaches, the players and the medical practices, the structure of Arsenal has had small changes in the past 20 years.
“Looking at it, there maybe are some changes that could be considered to help the team and it’d be great to see them find a solution that would see their players being fit and medically available to play more regularly, but ultimately you have to respect the job Arsene has done over such a long period.
“The players currently in the set-up tick a lot of boxes – technically gifted, strong, quick – but you could argue what they lack, and have done for a while, is that drive and determination to win the game no matter what.
“Performances such as the recent ones away at West Brom and Crystal Palace arguably demonstrated that.”