Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Spectacular Start Gives Gazidis an Easy Ride in Front of the Fans

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Spectacular Start Gives Gazidis an Easy Ride in Front of the Fans

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Chief Football Correspondent

IT MUST have been tempting for each Arsenal board member to answer any dissenting voice with two words: Mesut Ozil.

After all, it was the German's [pounds sterling]42.4million arrival combined with a fine start to the season that provided a far calmer backdrop to the club's Annual General Meeting than in recent years.

Twelve months earlier, Arsenal fans were heckling speakers after what they viewed as incomplete answers following a disastrous summer.

If Robin van Persie's sale to Manchester United epitomised to those angry mutineers a lack of ambition, then Ozil's arrival quietened concerns over Arsene Wenger's supposed fear of the chequebook.

The stormy atmosphere was replaced by one of silence punctuated by sporadic laughter as Sir Chips Keswick chaired his first AGM following Peter Hill-Wood's decision to step down earlier this year. He appeared a more polished version of Hill-Wood, prone to flirtations with the boundaries of political correctness and equally dismissive of any objection to the status quo.

Among the early formalities was the re-election of majority Stan Kroenke as a director, which ended by annual rotaself tion, and around half a dozen hands were raised in opposition.

"Well, it was close to unanimous," said Kroenke, mindful a similar number object every year, before embarking on a short speech.

"Anyway, it is great to be here and I would tell you we are pleased with the progress of the club and that is made up of a lot of things, most importantly on the pitch. None of us up here [on the board], fans, players, or Arsene [Wenger] are happy until we have won championships and trophies, we have said that over and over again and are committed to that.

"The real reason for that is the tradition, the image and the success of the club and that to me has been established by none other than our manager. So we are very pleased to be here and I couldn't be more honoured to introduce our manager Arsene Wenger." Wenger was not required to calm the baying mob -- as he has done in the last two years in particular -- but he is a skilled orator and his 10-minute speech concluded with every Arsenal supporter feeling just a little more comfortable about the future. …

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