We thought of Bruce Rioch this week because he brought a Danish team of no significance to Celtic and got a draw.
And then we remembered that one dreadful season he had with Arsenal – a further reminder of which was given last night on Arsenal TV with the showing of the last match of that season. We needed to win to get into Europe, and we did. We crept into the Diddly-Widdly Cup.
There were many faces we’d remember. Bergkamp in his first season, Ian Wright (about to put in a transfer request), Dixon, Merson, Winterburn, Keown – so not a bad team then.
But in effect it was awful. Terrible. Ghastly. I was at that final game – the last game before the great Lord Wenger arrived (with the slight interruption of the period at the start of the next season, of the most successful Arsenal manager ever – Pat Rice – under whose tenure we did not lose a game.)
I don’t remember it as being so awful, although I do have strong memories of how Rioch was clearly not up to the exacting standards of Graham and I could never understand what Wright was doing on the left wing.
But looking at it now one thing is utterly clear. If we had stayed like that, if we had not had the Lord Wenger, then Manchester U (as they were then known) would have marched ahead under Alex (as he was then known) F-Word, and they would not have had us popping up every now and then to burst the bubble. Then CSKA would have come along and we would be condemed to an eternity of mid-table drivel as we suffered throughout much of the period from the managership of Wright onwards until Graham.
If you have not seen anything from the Rioch season try and get a copy of a video of that year and see what I mean.
Of course it is right to wish to win the EPL again this year, and the Cups too. But let’s never forget how far this magnificent man has brought us since those awful Riochian days.
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