Why Steve Bould to Stoke rumours could be good for Arsenal

This week a strange set of rumours began circulating that Arsenal’s assistant manager Steve Bould is a ‘surprise candidate’ to replace Tony Pulis at Stoke City.

Stoke have struggled this term and are still not completely clear of the relegation battle for Premier League survival. Despite Pulis’ impressive record in charge at The Britannia there are calls for him to be replaced at the end of the season.

Stoke’s style and system has been sniggered and sneered at over the years as pundits and commentators rushed to patronize the seemingly out-dated Pulis ‘Plan A’ of long-balls, over-reliance on set-pieces, organized and compact defending that is often referred to as ‘anti-football’ tactics.

Whilst last year’s Champions League winners Chelsea were lambasted for their ‘anti-football’ tactics in the final against Bayern Munich and subsequently changed their style to emulate the likes of Barcelona, bringing in a number of ‘flair players’ over the summer, Stoke have no such ambitions.

Their fans and the club want to remain the Stoke we know of old – one of the toughest teams, if not the toughest team, to break down. They want The Britannia to remain one of the most uncomfortable and unpleasant places to go and play at. I have already asserted twice this season my firm belief that their strategy was working and that, in actual fact, the Premier League is better for it.

Meanwhile, Steve Bould took over as assistant manager at Arsenal from Pat Rice who stepped down at the end of last season. Initially, it seemed the former Gunners defender had make improvements to Arsenal’s leaky and disorganized backline but almost as soon as the praise was handed to Bould, Arsenal reverted to shipping goals.

However, Steve Bould will have undoubtedly learned a vast amount from his senior Arsene Wenger about the demands of management and rumours of a rift between the pair suggest (perhaps insubstantially) that Bould has minimal responsibility and input as Wenger maintains full authority over the team.

Whether or not that’s the case is largely irrelevant as I seriously doubt that Steve Bould will be hired as a potential replacement for Tony Pulis – even if Pulis goes, Bould simply doesn’t have the credentials to take the reigns and is not experienced enough to manage a Premier League club.

If, by some strange twist of fate, however, the rumours linking him to the job prove to be more than just hearsay and actually become a reality, this could be good news for Arsenal who would then require a replacement for Bould, not to mention their Head of Youth Development Liam Brady who is also stepping down this summer.

This would open the door for Gunners legends like current Ajax assistant manager Dennis Bergkamp, Ajax director of football Marc Overmars, current Manchester City youth ‘development executive’ Patrick Vieira and recently appointed England U19’s coach Tony Adams.

Steve Bould is unlikely to be hired by Stoke but there are still bound to be bold changes made in Arsenal’s backroom this summer.

image: © Vincent Teeuwen

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