I wrote a comment in the blog ‘The Anti-Wengerians have not gone away, they are just hiding.’, defending Arsene and his attitude to defence. This was in response to the claim made by a caller to Talk Sport and supported by the two presenters that the difference between our home defence against Dortmund and our away defence against Dortmund was down to Steve Bould being allowed to coach the defence for the away game.
Later I read my comment and thought it possible someone might think I was anti Steve Bould. I am not. To prove it I have written this appreciation of his contribution to Arsenal.
Steve Bould. An appreciation.
Steve was brought to Arsenal by George Graham in 1988. and became a member of what was to be George’s famous ‘back four defence’ which consisted of a right and left back and two centre backs Steve and Tony Adams. As we know at Arsenal anything can happen so here. with four making five for into the ‘back four’ came a fifth member. Martin Keown. . Tony as we all know was ‘home grown’ and quickly became the ‘Sung hero of Highbury.
Steve like Tony made his presence felt on the field and went about his task quietly and professionally and gave his all to the defence of Arsenal. In a sense he is doing now what he did then and that his work in the shadow of his leader. Unlike a former American President he never said ‘Read my lips’. What he did say by the way he played was ‘None shall pass’ and none did.
Before Arsene arrived our last championship success was in 1991. George Graham’s two championships were remarkable for two completely different reasons. The closeness of the first and for being way ahead of the also runs in the second. The year of ‘You can keep your two points……’ Which made the point loud and clear ‘We don’t need two points to make our point.’ We are the Champions!
The ‘invincibles’ have come and they have put into shadow that amazing championship win of 1991 in which we only lost one game. Our defence let in a grand total of just 18 goals. Steve played in all 38 games.
Arsene arrived to be faced with a failing Arsenal. The defence leaked and the attack had peaked. We now know what we didn’t know then. Arsene changed everything and I mean everything. Out went the alcohol and seemingly much to Lee Dixon’s chagrin out went the chocolate bars. In came ‘professionalism’ a professionalism like amateur England had never known before.
One result of these changes was that it extended the playing days of the now famous ‘Arsenal back four’. Even now we still have idiots (who by their own account know all there is to know) telling us that it was George Graham’s defence that won Arsene’s first double. Well yes they were in GG’s back four but it was Arsene by the changes he made. who made it possible for them to win their third Division 1 title.
Steve’s playing days over. Steve turned his life to coaching and joined many Arsenal greats both past and present, both sung and unsung and became part of the Arsenal back room staff. ‘Steve Bould was in the Arsenal mould.
Until recently the face that we saw at Arsenal’s side at matches was that of Pat Rice. I heard Pat say in an interview, “I was sent to collect Arsene from Heathrow. In the car on the way back to Highbury he told me that he wanted me as his assistant manager.” Surely this appointment was a sign even to the most ignorant of Arsene critics that Arsene already knew what he was doing at Arsenal!
When you stop to think about it, that win at all costs regardless of principles, must have known about Arsene before he arrived at Arsenal and would have realised that Pat’s appointment was a sign of things to come.
Little was heard of ‘Our Steve’ unless you had access to the ‘ins and outs’ of Arsenal. He remained as he did on the pitch quietly going about the tasks he was given. Never hitting the headlines never lipping his opinion in public just getting on with the task in hand. Now we see his face at Arsene’s side.
The Arsenal website tells us that he is the first team coach. That stands out with some significance because we are led to believe that Arsene does all the coaching!
I am outside the club so I don’t know the details but I know this. But it is clear that Arsene believes in Steve and so do I.