Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Coaching defenders + Arsecast 243

Morning all and it’s Friday, at last.

News is somewhat scarce but we’ll muddle on and find something to talk about. We could start with the fact the club gave some futher insight into the appointments of Steve Bould and Neil Banfield. We know that the former is going to be Arsene’s assistant but Banfield thought he was just going to have a chat about the reserves when the boss called him into his office:

The manager invited me into his office, and with Steve Bould going up to be assistant manager I thought that he may have pulled me in to explain his decision. To me it was a logical move anyway, but I thought it was nice of him to explain it to me.

Then he told me he wanted me to become first-team coach, and you could have knocked me over. I was a bit gobsmacked to be honest, but after the initial surprise and sense of achievement inside, I was just delighted.

As for Bouldie, he’s obviously been brought up as a coach under Arsene Wenger’s methods but came through as a player under George Graham. Many of us will be hoping that he can bring something of that era to this Arsenal side as our defensive woes are fairly well categorised at this stage. He says of taking over from Pat Rice:

It is more than excitement, it is an absolute privilege and an honour. I know I have some big boots to fill with Pat having spent 44 years at the Club and that is going to be the hard part.

While we all still want to see the club get busy in the transfer market, I think some fresh voices at the training ground and in the dressing room could well have a real impact. I can’t say things were stale, and it’s obvious Pat was held in great affection by all of the players, but sometimes change like this can be good. We get some new ideas and new methods and although people will focus on what George Graham’s back four did, they could never have done what they did without a team in front of them that worked their socks off too.

So, for me, I’m really hoping that Bould can impart some of that onto this team because it’s not any coincidence that our best performances have come when we’re worked as a collective rather than 11 individuals. I’ve said it before but the Man City game at home this season is the blueprint, that’s the way we should play, that’s how everyone should work and it ought to be the rule rather than the exception.

The other interesting thing to note, as Tim Stillman points out in his latest column, is that for a team whose focus is on attacking football that pretty much all the coaching staff are former defenders. Arsene was a centre-half, Bould a centre-half replacing Pat Rice who was a full-back, Banfield a centre-half and Boro Primorac (who remains very much Arsene’s right hand man in the background) was also a centre-half. Maybe we need a former striker in there to tighten us up at the back. Dennis, can you fix our back four please? Thanks!

Anyway, it’s notable that the changes we’ve had to make at coaching level have been made fairly seamlessly. They’ve had plenty of time to sort it out, obviously, with Pat Rice’s intention to retire well known, so let’s hope they can replicate that when it comes to sorting out the playing side of the club this summer.

Meanwhile, former great Anders Limpar has given his pre Euro 2012 verdict on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. He feels the latter can improve aspects of his game – which I think we’d all be in agreement with – and he seems genuinely excited about the future of the former, saying:

He has the potential to be even better than Theo! He’s very fast and what I like about him is the fact he’s very strong in his head. Nothing breaks his confidence. I think he’s going to be a great player.

It was clear the manager was cautious with The Ox last season, much to some people’s dismay, but if on the one hand we bemoan the fact Jack Wilshere was overplayed we can’t then criticise too much if we’ve learned from that when it comes to blooding another highly talented youngster. I think the boss probably got it just about right with him. For all the obvious potential and excitement he brings, he’s still got a lot to learn and last season will stand him in good stead ahead of the new one.

His trip to the Euros will open his eyes further and although the media will always ramp up expectation on English players ahead of a big tournament, the onus is on the senior players to perform. Oxlade-Chamberlain has got nothing to prove and can play without any of the pressure heaped on others.

Other than that there’s little else going on. There’s a story in the Mirror about a striker from Montpellier but it’s written by a journalist who blindly repeated a made-up story about Malcolm Glazer being dead so I’m not taking it too seriously.

Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and it is the final ‘cast of this season. Joining me in a round-table discussion of the season as a whole are Goonerholic, the man from East Lower and Tim Clark from Arse2Mouse. All the usual bits on the agenda. Was the season a success? Best goals, best games, best players, most disappointing players, the RVP situation, where we are now, what we need to do and much more. It clocks it at over an hour so go make a coffee. And a sandwich. And possibly slow cook some pork.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (43mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.


And that’s about that. The Arsecast will now take its annual break but should anything truly exciting happen during the summer we might dust off the microphones.

Now, I have to breakfast then take Mrs Blogs to the airport for she is running the Edinburgh marathon on Sunday. Till tomorrow.

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