Arsenal are set to add some much needed football expertise to the boardroom with the appointment of Pascal Cygan to a specially created new role.
The Frenchman, on the advice of Arsene Wenger, will be confirmed as the club’s first Strategic Football Consultant. After adding Josh Kroenke to the boardroom last year – the first step in reducing the average age of the directors – the 39 year old former defender will bring another dose of youthful vitality to the Arsenal set-up.
With question marks still over the manager’s intentions, and the board’s ability to make properly informed decisions about the footballing future of the club when Wenger does finally call it a day, the decision was taken to create a new role to bridge that knowledge gap.
Taking into account the suggestions made by fans groups like the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust, Black Scarf Movement and Arsenal Need Another Leader, that they needed somebody who understood the club and was cognisant with the needs of the modern game, a three man shortlist was fashioned after extensive discussion. The names put forward were Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Cygan.
Arsenal, however, were reluctant to ‘poach’ either of the first two candidates from their roles at Man City and Ajax respectively, due to the compensation they’d have to pay, and plumped for Cygan instead. Despite playing a bit-part role in the team for most of his Arsenal career, Wenger was always impressed by his intelligent outlook on the game.
After leaving the Gunners in 2006, he went to Spain to play for Villarreal (alongside Santi Cazorla and Robert Pires) and Cartagena, before retiring in 2011. Since then he’s been doing his coaching badges, and studying at some of Europe’s biggest clubs to gain insight into the way they’re run.
He spent time in Italy and Germany, and undertook a 3 month role at Turkish giants Fenerbache but was forced to cut short his stay there due to an intense allergic reaction to a pesticide used on the grass at their training ground.
Cygan was also recently spotted sitting alongside Ken Friar at a recent game at the Emirates, which led many to wonder if it was more than just a social visit.
The Frenchman’s duties will include compiling a short-list of managerial candidates for the board to consider in the wake of Arsene Wenger’s admission he’d have no hand in that process.
As well as that he’ll be advising on general football matters, transfer policy and training ground improvements – one of which, on the instruction of Stan Kroenke himself, is the installation of a state of the art cryo-homeopathic bath which the American believes can put an end to the repetitive muscle strains suffered by Arsenal players.
The appointment is set to be confirmed by the end of month.