Liam Brady says it could take years for Arsenal to rejoin the elite in English football as he lifted the lid on the club’s chaotic workings.
The former Gunners midfield legend laid bare the club’s shortcomings in a brutal expose of life post-Arsene Wenger.
Brady, 64, spoke of his sorrow at the state of affairs at the north London club and laid the blame for the mess squarely at the door of bigwig Ivan Gazidis in a savage attack.
The Gunners’ ex-academy director said the former chief executive had forced out Wenger following a bitter battle over transfers – and then employed ‘total failures’ to oversee a recruitment policy that has ended with a wasteful £350million splurge in the market.
Speaking on the Keys and Gray podcast, Brady said: “When you’re winning, everyone gets on fine.
“But it began to unravel at Arsenal when the team was not challenging for the top four – it ended with Arsene being hung out to dry by Gazidis.
“They didn’t really have a working relationship – and the manager really has to have a working relationship with the chief executive.
“There was a constant battle for control on spending on transfers and contracts with Wenger. In the end, the manager left and Gazidis got control. The people he put in place since have been total failures.
“If you look at Gazidis’s track record on buying players and that of Raul Sanllehi – who has recently left the club – the money that’s been spent in the last five or six years, you’re talking £300-350m.
“Just look at the players we have signed under Sanllehi alone. Pepe for £72m. Lille have never sold a player for £72m.
“Gazidis had this idea he wanted to take the power of signing players away from the manager. After Arsene, Unai Emery came in. He was very poor, he couldn’t even speak English, running up and down the sidelines waving his arms around. No-one knew what he wanted to do or what he was doing. He sanctioned these signings through Sanelleh.
“Look at the team we’ve got now.
“There’s not one player we have bought apart from Gabriel Martinelli – a relatively cheap signing – who is worth any more than we paid for them.
“Look at all the rest, none of them are worth what we paid for them. You’d be lucky to get half of the cash back now in an open market.
“We didn’t challenge the Champions League positions and we got into Europe because we won the FA Cup. Arsenal fans aren’t stupid. They are looking at the team thinking: ‘This isn’t going to challenge the top four’.
“Unless things change with the owners and board we will be treading water for the next few years. I feel sorry for Mikel Arteta, having to unravel all this.
“It’s going to take time. I can’t see them getting back to the top – unless you’ve got a brilliant manager.
“Arteta might be that – there’s been pluses and minuses so far. But he’s got to be given time to make sense of this.”
Brady said that while he was ‘concerned’ about the Gunners’ league position, he did not feel unduly worried about the prospect of a relegation
But he did say he feels there is no money to strengthen next month and that boss Arteta has wrestled back some control over signings.
He said: “Sanllehi did buy the players. Arteta has much more say now.
“When he came in, the model was that he would just coach the players. But he did well in his first few months and the team looked more organised. And I think they decided this is someone they can trust to buy the players.
“Thomas Partey from Atletico is his big signing and that’s fair enough. But I do question why he went along with the Willian deal. I don’t think that’s helped his position.
“However, apart from Partey, he’s not really had a go in the market.
“To be honest, I don’t know where we go as we have wasted all this money. Liverpool hadn’t won the league for years, they hadn’t challenged.
“When Jurgen Klopp took over, he had Philippe Coutinho to sell for £140m. He could then go and buy Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson – there’s not a situation like that at Arsenal.
“It needs a major change. It’s going to take at least a couple of years to do it. I just hope Arteta can show he has the ability to turn it around.
“I think the kids are up to it. With the likes of Bukayo Saka and Martinelli, they have the ability and character to pull us clear. My worries lie with the seniors.
“Six or eight need to go. Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, Pepe, Willian, David Luiz – I could probably name another three if I had the squad to hand.
“And I don’t blame Arteta over Ozil. He gave Ozil plenty of chances and he performed for a couple of months. As did a few others who had question marks hanging over them. Luiz looked better. Xhaka looked better.
“But Ozil just reverted back to type. He’s not a good guy in the dressing room, he’s not a good guy on the pitch. I have no problem with Mikel bombing him, none.
“Gazidis should have let him go on a free three years ago and we should have spent what we are paying him over three years, £50m? – that we could have invested in a good young player instead of having him around the place.”
Brady said that while Arsenal should have enough to pull clear from trouble in the next few weeks he said it could be a long haul. He added: “I’m worried, no doubt about it. I’m not concerned about survival although I have been looking at the number of points the teams have who are below us. I’d settle for tenth this year.
“We’re in a really poor vein of form. We are struggling. We’re letting in poor goals and not scoring enough.
“The discipline has to improve. We’ve lost three players in four or five matches to stupid red cards. Then you don’t have those players due to suspension.
“We have to stick with the coach – even though he’s not experienced anything like this before – and see what happens.
“They’ll either have to stick with him and what he’s got or have to give the new manager some money. I don’t think there will be a knee-jerk reaction.
“I think he will get until the end of the season. Having said that, if he loses the next three, who knows?”
Liam Brady was speaking on the Keys and Gray podcast @keysandgraypod. Available on Instagram and Twitter.