So yesterday we finally got the confirmation from Arsenal that Pat Rice will be stepping down at the end of the season and Steve Bould will be replacing him. It should matter not to Arsenal players that this is Roy Hodgson’s last game for West Brom because it is Pat Rice’s last game for Arsenal and their records for their current clubs are incomparable. The media will make it about Roy but for us, for the players and supporters it should be about Pat. I’ll do a proper tribute piece to Pat once the season is out of the way, but for now, it’s all about West Brom.
Kos has been speaking about how the players, for the first time, had doubts over Arsene after what he describes as a catastrophic start to the season. Speaking to France Football he said
“The start of the season was catastrophic. We lost key players from our system. There was late recruitment of new players and the mayonnaise needed time to ‘take’.
“There was the thrashing at Old Trafford. The whole world buried us. But you don’t lose your football like that.
“It can happen that a small grain of sand jams the engine and after that you start to doubt your own qualities, the club, the coach and everything else. We needed to sort that out. Everyone got down to doing just that, the coach, the club.
“The group was not giving enough for the club and we realised that. We got down to work and we said the things we needed to say. After that, one win, two wins, confidence returns and things follow on from that. The new players were immersed in the group and so on.”
“I don’t want to have regrets. If we have a nightmarish start to the season it’s because we deserved it. Frankly I want to come out of this season having matured. The season I went through was tough but full of emotions.
“We had pressure, we were five points behind Chelsea and everyone was saying ‘the Champions League is finished, Tottenham will win’. But we beat them 5-2 and we put together seven wins. Maybe we didn’t dominate all our matches but mentally we had something more.
“At Liverpool for example we always believed and Robin [van Persie] gave us the win at the end of the match.
“For sure we also had Robin van Persie. It is his season. I’m really happy for him. It’s the first time that injuries left him alone and we saw the difference.
“I try not to kick him a lot in training, I go soft with him. We try to be reasonable when you have such a long season.”
It’s not really the damming assessment many people are making it out to be with sensationalist headlines and, in fact, if they hadn’t questioned everything about themselves, the manager and the club after *that* game at Old Trafford and the rest that surrounded it I would have found that to have been more of a problem.
Early team news ahead of the West Brom match and Theo is expected to have a test on his hamstring and might be included in the squad, while there is a ‘little doubt’ over Santos, Park and Squillaci. Seriously. This was actually given as news. Santos I can understand, but the other two? What is the point?
Beyond this, there’s really very little which I hope points to us focusing like a really intense focusy thing on the training pitch. Sunday is fast approaching and then that’s us. How the season goes for all of us demands on nothing more than the 90 minutes we do or don’t put in on Sunday.
That’s a pretty frightening though.
Yesterday’s LadyArse Gossip Roundup: