07 June 2014

Are the Deins twisting a knife in Arsenal's back?

It's rare that we have to worry more than a bit about particular agents, but there's one in particular, along with his father, who appears to acting out some kind of vendetta against Arsenal: Darren Dein. He currently represents Cesc, Gael Clichy, and Alex Song, and has in the past represented van Persie, Adebayor, and Thierry Henry. Notice any patterns there? We're not going to get into dates and times, because all good conspiracy theories depend at least a little bit on shadiness and obfuscation. In those spirits, I will let those names dangle in the wind. As we drool and pine away over a reunion with Cesc, it's well-worth remembering that this Dein has had his grubby little fingers in player-moves away from Arsenal, not towards. I don't know what that means for Cesc's future, but it hardly offers much comfort.

Huh. He doesn't seem at all insufferable or boorish.
Before I launch into the lambaste, let's make one thing clear: Dein's job, as an agent, is to get the best deal for his client (and commission for himself). As such, we cannot paint him as turncoat or a traitor, someone who loves certain players, the club, or even football himself. He's a businessman, a cold, calculating, remorseless money-making machine whose only motivation is to strip-mine and clear-cut for the sake of as many greasy bucks as he can grab. Wait. Sorry. That was supposed to the polite disclaimer before the lambaste. I really should apologize to Darren. I should do a lot of things, but I don't.

Without painting Dein pere with a nobler brush, the contrast between Darren and his father seems stark. Whereas Darren seems hell-bent on fracking Arsenal until we're bone-dry, David was instrumental in helping the club become what it is today. He was involved in bringing in Arsène as manager, first after the dismissal of George Graham and again after the Bruce Rioch "era", when the board finally agreed. Even if that were all, we could pause for a moment and tip our caps to David. That's not all, though. Not by a long shot. Thanks to Dein's involvement, we enjoyed the distinct, sublime, and astounding pleasures known as Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars, Thierry Henry, Robert Pirès, Sol Campbell, Cesc Fàbregas, and Robin van Persie. However, despite these and other contributions, David Dein left the club in 2007, apparently because of philosophical differences over how to carry the club into the future. With Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea in 2003 in mind, it seemed that David wanted to bring in a similarly wealthy and influential benefactor, but the rest of the board refused, and David Dein sold his shares in the club shortly thereafter, prompting Arsène to say the following:
It is a huge disappointment because we worked very closely together, David has contributed highly to the success of the club in the last 10 years and even before that as well. Red and white are the colours of his heart.David Dein is needed in football because this guy has revolutionised this club (Arsenal) and also English football. He is top quality.
There are even suggestions that Arsène offered to resign in solidarity with David Dein, but that Dein urged him to stay on. For those wondering why this might matter, it might have played a role in convincing Thierry Henry to move on. With the future of the club apparently in disarray with Dein leaving and Arsène's own contract-renewal up in the air, Henry himself felt unsettled enough to leave—with the help of Darren Dein.

So what's going on here? David Dein still attends matches, but he has no official role with the club other than his position as chair of Red & White, the largest shareholder in the club after the board of directors. Having left Arsenal acrimoniously, could it be that Darren Dein is waging some kind of personal war against the club to avenge his father, even if this runs contrary to his father's wishes? It's been said that David is a Gooner and a businessman. It seems that Darren is simply a businessman with no other real loyalties other than to himself. I won't even wade into the sordid nepotism that allowed him to associate with the likes of Henry, much less represent him and others. Let it suffice to say that he owes a fair number of his business connections to his father. For him to work so assiduously, to even appear as if he's dedicating himself to harvesting Arsenal's best and brightest, strikes me as vindictive. Whether he's directing that at the club out of some kind of misbegotten loyalty to his father or acting out some bizarre, I-am-Commodus, Oedipal fantasy, it's us who suffer.

Did I mention that Darren represents Cesc? Yeah. Hard to take that as a good sign.

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