Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson has launched a scathing attack on chief executive Ivan Gazidis, branding his decade in charge of the Premier Leauge giants ‘a failure’.
He also revealed that a top agent in the United States described Gazidis as ‘the worst negotiator’ he had ever dealt with during his work with the formation of Major League Soccer.
Robson made 150 league appearances for the Gunners and worked for their in-house TV network, but was banned from visiting the Emirates Stadium over his outspoken views against former manager Arsene Wenger and the decline of his once celebrated tenure in north London.
And now he has turned his attention to CEO Gazidis, who was this week strongly linked with move to take over operations at AC Milan.
Arsenal quickly shut those rumours down on Wednesday, with chairman Sir Chips Keswick insisting the 53-year-old South African was staying put and is ‘fully committed to taking Arsenal forward’.
But Robson would have been happy to see the back of Gazidis, having exhaustively detailed all the errors he has made since joining the club in 2008.
“His time at Arsenal will be seen as a failure,” the former Gunner told talkSPORT host Jim White on Wednesday.
“There are lot of things I think he’s done wrong.
“What Gazidis is very good at doing, is he’s a great talker and he’s a very good networker.
“He was part of the organising committee when the MLS started, but he claimed he was the major inventor of the MLS.
“When he came to Arsenal I knew a very high profile sports agent, who told me he was ‘the worst negotiator’ he had ever dealt with. Basically, he didn’t know his stuff.
“He said it was good for the company he was working for, because Gazidis made all the wrong deals.”
So what are his crimes? Robson explains why he believes Gazidis has been so bad for Arsenal…
“If you look at since he’s been in charge, Arsenal have paid too much money to average player. Therefore, when they don’t succeed, they haven’t been able to sell them.
“He was in charge of this. Yes, Arsene Wenger was in charge of the football and did most of the coaching, but in terms of the money and the contracts, Gazidis was still the negotiator, he still had to finalise those deals.”
“Again, Gazidis was in charge of this. They offered £1 more than the buyout clause! If they had offered a bit more, Suarez would have been an Arsenal player – everybody knew that!
“But, instead they were so cheap and so disrespectful that Suarez didn’t come to Arsenal, and that was a major reason why Arsenal failed in their bid to win the league that season.”
“He allowed Wenger – who, by the way, helped to appoint Gazidis – to run the club, even though everybody could see that the manager’s time was up and he should have gone many, many years ago.”
“He also failed to revamp the medical system, even though everybody could see it was going wrong.
“Arsenal had too many injured players.
“Some players were meant to be out for six weeks and ended up being out for two years in some cases – Tomas Rosicky being one of them.”
“How many of Arsenal’s best players were allowed to leave almost for nothing because the club let their contracts run out?
“Like allowing some big players like Robin van Persie to go to Manchester United – big rivals.
“What other club, what other chief executive would allow that to happen?”
“In the end Gazidis realised Arsene Wenger wasn’t the man, but instead of being brave enough to sack him three or four years ago, he tried to manipulate things behind the scenes to get rid of him.
“He didn’t have the courage or the bottle of the knowledge to get rid of Arsene Wenger.
“After ten years of mediocrity at Arsenal, Gazidis has only just started to revamp things.
“He’s brought in a new director of football, a new chief scout, a new head of recruitment – this should have been done a lot earlier.
“This was his way of trying to get Arsene Wenger out at the end, because he knew Wenger wanted to run the football club and eventually Wenger said: ‘I’ve had enough, I’m not putting up with this, I’m going’.”