Arsenal's head of football operations departs as shake-up continues

Nick Ames
·3-min read

The Arsenal head of football operations, Huss Fahmy, is to depart in the latest stage of their executive restructuring.

Fahmy joined Arsenal from Team Sky in 2017 and has been instrumental in dealing with contractual and recruitment issues. But his role has been less well defined since the club executed a boardroom shake-up over the summer, parting company with the former head of football Raul Sanllehi and giving Mikel Arteta a greater say in matters away from the training pitch by bestowing him the title of first-team manager.

Related: Arsenal have specialised in failure at Old Trafford for decades

As a result Fahmy will move on, with the decision understood to have been of his own volition. Arsenal intend to hire a replacement to deal with various elements around contract negotiations but the role will not be as senior and the key decision-makers will now be Arteta, the technical director Edu, the chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and the academy manager Per Mertesacker.

Arsenal’s staff were informed of Fahmy’s imminent departure on Friday afternoon. He is expected to leave in the next month and Arsenal will move forward with a greatly streamlined senior staff. Their head of international recruitment, Francis Cagigao, also left in the summer along with a number of high-ranking scouts.

Meanwhile, Arteta feels the absence of fans at Arsenal’s home games may have held back his attempts to transform the club.

Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday and hope to banish the memory of their late defeat by Leicester at the Emirates Stadium last weekend. That fixture took place in an empty stadium and there is little prospect of the situation changing in the near future. Arteta, who has overseen a general improvement since taking over last December, believes his revolution would have gathered greater pace with the fans’ matchday support behind them.

“When you are trying to build a new project there is something you need, and that is your people and your crowd,” he said. “If not, you are unable to generate that synergy, that cohesion, that unity within them [so they] feel they belong to what we are trying to do: that they feel united, they feel close.

“It is really difficult and we are now suffering when they are not in the stadium because I really want to see them closely – not on TV but really closely – what the team is trying to do [and] what the players are putting in so they can feel that connection with them.

“They will then be really participating in what we are trying to do and that is a really powerful thing. There are a few examples in this country of how important that is when you are trying to build something.”

Arsenal have not won at an established top-six rival since 2015 and have not prevailed in the league at Old Trafford for 14 years, so the scalp of a resurgent United would be welcome. They have tightened up in such encounters, running Liverpool and Manchester City close in recent weeks, and Arteta believes the fine details will soon begin to work in their favour.

“We’ve done it against some big teams already, now we have to do it in a consistent way,” he said. “I’m not concerned about performances because you can see the trend and how we’re evolving. It’s just those margins – how we manage the margins within the games, and those moments when we try to get wins. We will go to Old Trafford with the same mindset to go there and try to win.”