Friday, 11 May 2012

Farewell Pat Rice -Wenger coy on M'Vila -New Cesc to sign?


Morning Gooners.

A sad day for Arsenal Football Club when it was announced that Pat Rice was to leave the club at the end of the season. It was coming. It had been expected for some time. But it's still sad when it's finally announced.

Rice has spent 44-years of his life working for Arsenal - as a player, captain, coach and assistant manager. That's got to have been a happy marriage.

You just have to read the tributes to him from current and former players to know what a big difference he made to their careers.

The last 16-years he's spent alongside Arsene Wenger. In that period the club have won seven major honours - three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

During the last seven years the trophies haven't been filling the cabinet at the Grove. But Arsenal don't have a divine right to win silverware every season. We've challenged most seasons. Just haven't been able to push ourselves over the line.

Some of the blame for us not winning trophies has been put at the door of the manager's refusal to not change his backroom staff and to stick with Pat Rice as his assistant. Personally I don't think this criticism is fair.

Rice was there during the good times, when things were going right. Why change things when things don't go your way? There is always need to have someone to blame in football these days and I think Pat Rice has taken some of that unwarranted criticism in the past.

People have called him a "Yes man", someone who won't challenge Wenger's decision making process. I don't think this is a fair reflection on their relationship what so ever.

Wenger said:
"He was one who always gave me his honest feelings, and when I made different decisions he was completely behind me. That is a privilege when you are in my position. I am convinced it will not be a complete separation. I am convinced until the last day of his life he will be at the Emirates." 
The manager said that Rice would do some scouting work for him and would attend matches as a supporter. It will be great to have him around the place still.

His position will be taken by Steve Bould who has been promoted from youth team boss.

On his appointment of Bould, Wenger said:
"His qualities are that he has experience of the top-level game, he has managed here, he knows our football philosophy and therefore there will be a continuity.
"He has also chosen after his playing career to coach here at the Club and we always want to give an advantage to people who know how we work, how we want to coach."
At 49, Bould has done his apprenticeship with the youth team and now is probably the right time for him to move into the first team set up. It will be interesting to see his impact on the team, especially as he'll have to take charge of the side when Arsene Wenger completes his three game European touchline ban. The club have said they will announce other changes in the backroom staff in due course.

There is a game ahead this weekend and the early team news is that Theo Walcott will have to face fitness tests today and tomorrow to see if he's able to be involved at the Hawthorns. The rest of the squad - apart from Bacary Sagna who had surgery on his broken leg last night - should be available.

On new players joining in the summer, Wenger played it cool when asked about Yann M'Vila.

Asked if there was any interest in the midfielder, Wenger said:
"Not at the moment." 
Before adding:
"We have not been in touch with anybody, we have not made any offer to anybody and we are nowhere near to buying anybody at the moment. We are focused on our final game of the season."
There is of course interest in the player. But quite rightly the manager is focusing on the West Brom. It would be wrong for him to be preparing this week for next season when the most important game of this season is only days away.

I can't see the manager committing to spend £17m+ on a player without knowing whether we have Champions League football next season as well.

Some other players we've been linked with included Borussia Dortmund's Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa. The Daily Mirror say we could spend £7m on bringing him to The Grove.

We've also been linked with Gedion Zelalem, a 15-year-old midfielder when he turns 16 in January. The German-born Ethiopian has already spent time in London and watched the Gunners play Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League earlier this season. He's already been described as the new Cesc Fabregas.

There are interesting quotes from Laurent Koscielny in The Sun about the start of the season, if you fancy going over old ground.

That's your lot for today. More tomorrow.


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