Arsenal is a very delicate club. It works in a way that other clubs don’t/can’t. For example their record for acquiring and developing youth rather than splashing millions speaks for itself with the likes of Anelka, Vieira and now Cesc calling Highbury or the Emirates home.
Yet these advances only came under Arsene Wenger who in joining the club in 1996 revolutionised the whole mentality in N5.
When Wenger joined the club he inherited a team that drank and ate unhealthily but he quickly changed that and in 1998 he led Arsenal to a league and cup double.
At the back for the double winning team was Steve Bould who along with Lee Dixon, Tony Adam and Nigel Winterburn formed the ‘fabulous four’ a lasting basis from which 3 different Arsenal manager could build their teams.
The following season would be Bould’s his 11th year at the club and his final as he moved on to Sunderland.
He retired playing for the north east club, but 2 years after leaving Highbury Bould would return, complete with his UEFA badges, to help coach Arsenal youth teams and it looks to be a right decision as he is now being touted as a potential replacement for Wenger.
Now before anyone gets too upset I realise that Wenger is doing a good job at the helm of Arsenal and he will possibly be in charge for a long time to come but Bould’s performances at academy level have definitely seen him thrown into the ring.
The former defender is the first to tell you that he does not measure success by silverware rather by the number of player that he can successfully ship into the first team and by that criteria, he must be happy as Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and Nicklas Bendtner have made the jump. He, like Wenger, emphasises the need for technical ability as well as physical and although accepting there is a gulf between England and countries like Spain, Holland etc when developing young players he is trying his utmost to close this gap.
But don’t think his words about developing players are a copout for a lack of trophies as last season he did a league and FA Youth cup double (with a team formed mainly of London born players as well).
His work isn’t going unnoticed and Wenger himself recently heaped praise on his former player saying,
“They are doing an exceptional job at the Academy. Steve Bould is developing extremely well as a coach and that’s why they are doing remarkably well. It always makes me think the club I love is in safe hands and has a good future,”
When it comes to a change of management, it is always best to hand over the reins to someone who has the same care and knowledge of the club. This would make Bould an ideal candidate and with endorsement from Wenger himself, if he can continue his good work at academy level don’t be surprised if Arsenal look closer to home when it comes to replacing ‘The Professor’.
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