If you believe the News of the World, Arsenal’s assistant boss Pat Rice is ready to retire at the end of the season. Rice, 61 years-old, joined the Gunners as a player in 1964 and went on to make 528 appearances for the club. On a poll on the official Arsenal website, Pat Rice was voted the 17th Greatest Gunner of all time. The man is Arsenal through and through.
He retired from the game in 1984, but soon took up a role as Arsenal’s youth team coach. He remained the youth team manager for 12 years, until he was designated Arsenal’s caretaker manager following the departure of Stewart Houston. He won all three of his games in charge, making him the only Arsenal manager with a 100% victory rate.
He was to be replaced by Arsene Wenger in 1996 and graciously took an assistant manager role alongside him. Almost 15 years later, it seems that Rice is ready to relinquish his Arsenal commitments.
I have to say, I think the time is right. Pat Rice has done a good job at Arsenal, but the Gunners must embrace change. Over at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistants have changed as regular as clockwork and all have helped to add something different to the side.
Arsenal need a new voice. Rice doesn’t strike me as the kind of man to speak against Arsene Wenger. The Gunners need an assistant manager who will question Wenger if needs be. I would also suggest that Arsenal’s new number two should have some defensive nous. The Gunners have been all over the place at the back this season and need somebody who can whip them into shape. Arsenal had such success in the 2006 Champion’s League (reaching the final) because they brought in Martin Keown as a specialist defensive coach and he whipped the likes of Senderos and Flamini into shape.
So just who could this man be? For me there is only one obvious answer. Since 2001, Arsenal’s youth team has been coached by Steve Bould with great success. He’s vocal, opinionated and thick-skinned. More important still, he’s defensively minded. Bould was part of Arsenal’s “famous four” defensive line up, which also featured Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon. Let’s put it this way: he knows a thing or two about defending.
Pat Rice made it to the assistant managerial spot through his success managing the youth team. I for one hope that Steve Bould takes the same route. A fresh outlook could be just what the Gunners need in their push for silverware.
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