After their exit from the FA Cup this weekend Arsenal now find themselves looking at the Champions League as their only means of success this season. Meanwhile the likes of Alex Song, Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas are geared for glory.
Pat Rice is undoubtedly an Arsenal legend. He made over 500 appearances for the club as a player before embarking on a coaching career from 1984 to 2012. A tenure of 16 years as the clubs assistant manager started in 1996 with the appointment of Arsene Wenger and during that period he was an integral part of possibly Arsenal’s greatest ever period of success.
He helped Arsenal win the double in 1997-98 and 2001-02 and was part of the ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-04 and when he retired in May last year Arsene Wenger had this to say:
'Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his whole life to Arsenal Football Club, which shows huge loyalty and devotion to this club...I will always be indebted to him for his expert insight into Arsenal and football as a whole. On the training pitches and on match days, Pat has always been a passionate, loyal and insightful colleague, who we will all miss.'
At the end of Rice’s stint as Wenger’s right hand man the club were going through their worst barren spell in the Frenchman’s regime. Not since the FA Cup win of 2005 have Arsenal lifted any form of silverware and this season seems no better with only the Champions League left as a potential lifeline. Indeed if Arsenal do not become champions of Europe this year it will be eight years since Arsenal were crowned the champions of anything at all.
However Pat Rice has now joined the long list of names to have left North London during the period to go on and pick up a medal elsewhere; an MBE in the New Years honours list.
He collected his medal last Wednesday at Buckingham Palace and Arsenal were quick to congratulate him on his ‘special achievement’.
On footballing terms however Arsenal must be fed up of watching their former stars prosper elsewhere. They have had to watch the likes of Patrick Vieira succeed in Italy; Ashley Cole prosper at Chelsea and Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy win the League title last year with Manchester City. This season Robin Van Persie is likely to win one of the three competitions United remain competitive in and Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song are in a similar situation with Barcelona.
Since Arsenal last won silverware ex-players have gone on to win 44 medals in that time period; and with the FA Cup, Premier League, Champions League, La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Europa League all up for grabs that total could stand at an astonishing 50+ by the summer.
image: © little-pete