Darren Burgess’ exit adds to the chaos engulfing Arsenal’s backroom


The news that Arsenal’s director of high performance Darren Burgess is set to leave as part of yet another overhaul behind the scenes at the club adds further concern to the club’s off-field structure.

The 45-year-old’s imminent departure comes at a worrying time for the north Londoners, with other departments lacking permanent figureheads, meaning decision making on player recruitment, among a wide range of other important issues, takes far longer than it should.

Long-suffering fans will be concerned that since Arsene Wenger left the Emirates last May a large number of backroom staff have also departed.

Burgess is the latest in a long line to leave – a list which includes chief executive Ivan Gazidis and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat.

Worryingly, since Wenger’s departure last May other backroom staff to leave the club include Colin Lewin, head of the club’s medical department along with coaches Boro Primorac, Neil Banfield, Gerry Peyton, Tony Colbert.

Arsenal’s first team video scout Ben Wrigglesworth left to join Wolves while even Paul Johnson – a well-known face to many Arsenal fans over the last three decades – also left his position as equipment manager.

When CEO Gazidis departed for AC Milan before the end of 2018 the club’s rearranged their structure.  A new role, head of football was created, with the position filled by Raul Sanllehi.

Vinai Venkatesham became managing director while chief negotiator remained Huss Fahmy.

Director of High Performance Darren Burgess during a training session

However. the club’s technical director role has yet to be officially filled – albeit with Edu looking set to assume the full-time role next month – meaning the club are lacking a key figure in deciding transfer targets.

Damagingly, the lack of permanence at a crucial time of the close season means the club lacks fluidity in terms of acting nimbly in the transfer market. Sanllehi has his work cut out attempting to land transfer targets without the help of a technical director.

 

There is also still only an interim head of recruitment in Francis Cagigao.

It is instructive to understand the much-heralded Australian Burgess joined the Gunners in a bid to boost its high performance department which had slipped behind Premier League rivals.

Arsenal fitness coach Darren Burgess during a training session at the Koraragh Oval in Sydney, Australia.

The likeable Burgess set about restoring the medical, physical and fitness departments to  – yet two years on, with his departure, the club has some way to go to achieve those goals. It remains to be seen how they will structure the department in the coming months, though it is a small mercy that Shad Forsythe is expected to reject the lure of AC Milan and Gazidis.

 

Yet Burgess’ departure robs Arsenal of yet another senior voice at a time of turbulence, leaving fans wondering just what is going on behind the scenes at an increasingly rudderless ship.

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