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Football: Dein effect is the end of a dream for Wenger.


APRIL 18, 2007. Make a note of it - the day Arsenal gave up hope of winning the Premiership. Possibly forever.

When David Dein resigned as vice-chairman, the highest profile victim of Arsenal's boardroom civil war, there were some who dismissed his departure as an inconsequence.

Only a director, they reckoned, it's not as if Arsene Wenger or Thierry Henry were being forced out of the Emirates.

Those closest to the club knew the truth. Dein may have been the ultimate glad-hander, politician and all-round cologned smoothie but he was also the glue which held Arsenal together.

Wenger didn't pitch up in the Premiership because he wanted to sample London's cultural climate. He was sold a vision by Dein, a man who had done meticulous homework on the Frenchman and who continued to work hand-in-hand with Wenger until the day he was shown the door.

And when Henry turned his back on Barcelona last summer, it wasn't just Wenger's persuasive words which made a difference but Dein's relentless determination to keep Arsenal's greatest player in the Premiership.

Would Danny Fiszman have managed it? Or Keith Edelman? Or even dear old Ken Friar? To both Wenger and Henry, these are just faceless company men, anonymous suits. Dein was the flesh and blood of Arsenal.

The domino effect of his departure is potentially cataclysmic. Wenger is unsettled, rattled even, telling closest confidantes there is little chance of him renewing his contract and how he is burdened down without Dein's supportive presence.

Arsenal players are no fools - they've picked up on the manager's unrest, they've read the runes. This is a club in a continual state of flux, with no clear direction or transfer policy.

Whereas in summers past, Dein would be networking, taking calls from leading agents and following up on the targets Wenger had identified, now there is a gaping void with nobody of his experience or contacts to find a path through treacherous transfer waters.

So while Manchester United are launching pounds 50million raids on Europe and Chelsea are landing top quality English midfielders and Champions League strikers, Arsenal do nothing.

Even with Anfield bordering on civil war, Wenger would surely much rather be in Rafa Benitez's shoes. The wheels may turn ridiculously slowly at Liverpool but at least there are funds to be spent, as and when the club shakes itself out of its present stupor.

Wenger knows he needs experience but what chance of attracting the cream of Europe when his position at Arsenal is shrouded in doubt?

Imagine trying to sell Arsenal to, say, Samuel Eto'o. Well, Samuel my old son, we don't pay top dollar, the manager might not be around for much more than another season, the team's packed with talented but raw kids and we can't compete with United, Chelsea or Liverpool in the transfer market.

He'd be gone before you could say private jet to Manchester.

Little wonder, then, that Henry and now Gilberto Silva are eyeing up a future away from north London.

Who'll be next? Cesc Fabregas? After that, there's not much left.

No surprise Sir Alex Ferguson feels like he's got a new lease of life. First he inflicts a mortal blow on Jose Mourinho. Then he sees Liverpool threatening to implode and now Arsenal are on the brink of giving up the ghost.

The irony is that the weaker their position in the Premiership, the more the need for investment and the riper they become for a takeover.

And who would bet against a certain David Barry Charles Dein leading the charge on the gleaming glass and chrome of the Emirates?
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2007
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