Ivan Gazidis made a decent start in his tenure as Arsenal chief executive.
He pushed through the signing of Andrey Arshavin against Arsene Wenger's better judgement. If it was down to Wenger alone, the Russian would probably still be with Zenit St. Petersburg.
For some of you with hazy memories, cast your minds back to the summer of 2008. We have Andrey Arshavin decimating the European Championships and being linked to a whole host of clubs. The side with the firmest interest were Arsenal and a certain French professor.
What happened? Arsenal weren't prepared to push the boat out and make the signing, Wenger valued Arshavin at £13 million and wouldn't go any further. Zenit were holding out for a figure much higher.
Fast forward to January 2009 and the difference maker was Gazidis, who had freshly joined the club as chief executive. Not, by the way, Alisher Usmanov—as some people claim. Gazidis was able to complete the deal for a figure roughly 50 percent larger than the one Wenger was prepared to go to.
Judged on the evidence of Arshavin's first few months in the Premier League, he was right to do so.
So far, so good...but his performance this summer has been somewhat mixed. Arsenal were able to capture Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax early in the window, and Gazidis successfully tied down a number of players to long-term contracts. Nice work.
However this has come at a price. By opting to focus on extending player contracts Arsenal missed out on the signing of Felipe Melo. While Arsenal were putting the final touches on Robin Van Persie's new deal, Melo was signing a contract with Juventus.
It was a matter of priorities; considering the attacking options at the club, would it really have been a disaster to risk losing Van Persie this, or next summer? It wasn't even a certainty, just a small chance!
Arsenal lost out on a midfielder that would have been an excellent partner for Cesc Fabregas in midfield. A disappointment, but not a disaster.
Now, Arsenal find themselves at a point that could be critical for their chances in the new season. Arsene Wenger has stated he hasn't put any offers in for centre backs, and he is unwilling to negotiate with Bordeaux over his offer for Marouane Chamakh.
The first thing Gazidis needs to do is go to Bordeaux and say: “Here is £10 million, take it or leave it.” They may not accept, but at least Arsenal fans would know the club did its best. Drawing a line under the affair.
Wenger's stuttering has cost Arsenal to miss out on a fairly reasonable target in Sebastian Bassong, The next thing Gazidis should do is find out who Wenger's No. 1 target for central defence is and then go out and make the deal happen.
To say our defence is weak, and then not strengthen it significantly is the kind of mistake that will cost Arsenal the Premier League. It should not be tolerated.
Gazidis needs to take some initiative and do what he did in January with Arshavin. Trust the footballing judgement of Wenger, compensate slightly for his frugal nature, and get down to business.
The American's performance to date has been acceptable. If Gazidis can step up to the plate at the end of the transfer window and bag a couple of gems for Arsene Wenger then he will have gone a long way to securing Arsenal a realistic shot at the Premier League title.
Arsenal fans everywhere will be grateful.