Ringing the coaching changes

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Apr 16th, 2012

Okay, here is my second update of the day. My last post got a few comments regarding Drogba but I stand by what I said. He is a top player, would do a great job for a year, would bring on the ability of Afobe and would bring a winners mentality to the club. I probably should have mentioned that his presence could have a similar impact across a season as Henry did for 6 weeks but I thought I’d get slaughtered for comparing the two.

There have been lots of interesting opinions on the coaching staff at Arsenal and who should be Wenger’s new number 2 when Pat Rice retires this summer.

One of my favourite bloggers Dave Seager (@goonerdave66) champions Steve Bould. He also had a guest blogger James Cook (@CookieElGooner) who recently mentioned Bergkamp, Keown, Adams or even Stojkovic.

Dave also wrote a fantastic piece looking at the coaching changes at Old Trafford and how periods of intense success were preceded by a major coaching change at United.  I read something similar before Christmas from a young gooner, whose name I forget, who suggested that our stagnation was directly linking to the deep roots in our backroom staff room. Dave has taken it one better and put his excellent slant on it and served up a real treat. It was a really interesting piece packed full of information that made total sense of the correlation between success at both clubs but the stark difference between backroom stability.

I agree with all of these people that big coaching changes must be made at Arsenal this summer but not just in the no.2 spot. I personally think we should make room for more of our ex-players to work with the team especially players that our 14-20 year old players can actually remember playing and who would be constantly trying to impress and work hard for their boyhood hero’s. I think we could make room for Seaman or Lehmann as GK coach, Keown to work with the defence and Bergkamp to work as our technical coach.

Any one of these ex-players would be a welcome addition to the backroom staff and I wouldn’t say no to them as number 2 either but I want to discuss a different ex-player for the number 2 vacancy. Before I do that I want to bring to your attention a quote from Sol Campbell recently regarding Wenger.

Arsène is a single-minded leader who does not like to have anyone around who could threaten his authority, either by challenging his decisions or by being the person that will eventually take his job. But hopefully he proves me wrong and makes such an appointment.

Someone like Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp, Adams etc are ex-players that I think most gooners would have in the managers seat post-Wenger even if (in the case of Adams) their heads are telling them no. The emotional connection with these legends would afford them plenty of time to try and make their mark on the team and what better way to start than as Wenger’s no.2? I personally think most of those players would steer clear of top job at Arsenal because if they fail they’ll have tarnished their icon player status, or at least they will be afraid of that.

I’m not championing anyone as such but there is an ex-player that has not been mentioned by anyone I’ve been reading that I’m surprised has not been considered at all. This is an ex-player with coaching experience in the premier league, a man that would be no threat to Wenger for top job, a loyal servant to Arsenal, a local lad, someone who knows the value of defence but appreciates the more beautiful side of the game, someone with Arsenal in his blood, a player with the most appearances for Arsenal ever.

Some of you would have got that right away, others will have got it right at the end. I am of course talking about David O’Leary.

Why has this Arsenal legend not been considered for a coaching spot? Some may think I am mad for suggesting this and if I am perfectly honest I would prefer Bergkamp. I disagree with Dave about Steve Bould because I think Bould has been part of the Wenger regime for so long that he’d just be a yes man but in terms of coaching ability I agree wholeheartedly.

All of the ex-players mentioned all spent a fair bit of time working under Wenger and he will always be the boss to them. Could they really make the emotional and mental step to actually stand up as a football man, not as an ex-Wenger player, and tell him he is wrong about something?

The familiarity of Wenger’s coaching staff for 15 years suggests that he is a man that does not like to relinquish control or make unforced changes? If Bob Wilson hadn’t retired would Gerry Peyton be GK coach? If Gary Lewin hadn’t gone to England full-time would Colin still have been promoted? Why talk Pat Rice out of retirement 3 years on the trot?

Why I think O’Leary could be worth considering is that he is an Arsenal man through and through. He loves the club deeply and played for us for over 20 years but more crucially he has never played under Wenger. Wenger is just the boss of Arsenal, he has never been the boss of O’Leary. This is a man who didn’t spend the last few years of his career playing for Wenger whilst thinking about life after football. He didn’t start thinking about coaching and unwittingly be influenced by the presence of Wenger, taking mental notes on coaching whilst training under Wenger. He is a man with his own thoughts and experience of the premier league. He would not be a threat to Wenger’s job but could be someone who could approach Wenger with things ex-players Arsene has coached may not be able to voice with conviction.

O’Leary was a pretty good coach at Leeds and Leeds didn’t really start their downward spiral until after O’Leary had left and he was sacked because the club needed guaranteed Champions League football for which they turned to Venables for. Great move right? Whilst he was there he brought on some excellent young players and they played exciting football. Sure he spent a lot too but he won’t be in charge of player purchases as Wenger’s no.2.

After that he went to Villa and they also started to play well. He also revitalised the career of Juan Pablo Angel who for those that remember we were very strongly linked with buying for a few transfer windows and I’ll admit to hoping it was going to happen because he was a classy player. Villa overachieved with the little money they had for wages and transfers and a relatively small squad compared to other teams in the league by finishing 6th. The next couple of seasons weren’t great but for me his skill as a manager and a coach since then have been severely underrated. Had he dropped down a few leagues or done less TV work I think he could have made it back into the premier league and still be a successful manager.

O’Leary was a classy player and I think he was a good manager during the first 5-6 years of his managerial career so I see no reason why he shouldn’t be considered for a coaching spot at Arsenal. He clearly likes his teams to play in the same attractive style as Wenger does.

I don’t think we should promote internally for the number 2 spot and I also think that Boro Primorac and Gerry Peyton should also be replaced to give the club a fresh perspective but most of all I believe that if Wenger is as single minded as Sol says then we have to hope that none of his ex-players return to be his no.2.

I’m not saying O’Leary is the right choice but surely he is worth considering right?

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

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