Bergkamp’s Blessing: Changes At Arsenal Unrealistic


I found it intriguing reading Martin Keown’s recent interview with God.. Er I mean Dennis Bergkamp. Not only because of the way in which Ajax are utilising the invaluable skill and know-how of former greats throughout their coaching structure, but also Bergkamp’s thoughts on the current Arsenal team.

It has been bandied about by many a hack, blogger and Gooner that Arsene and Arsenal would benefit from getting more former players – especially those from the Invincibles era – on the coaching payroll; let’s face it, it’d be money better spent than the seven figure salary forked out on Tom Fox, who has not increased Arsenal’s commercial deals as the club – or us supporters for that matter – would’ve wanted.

Like Dennis, I certainly feel Arsenal missed a trick in not bringing Patrick Vieira back to the club – not only in the summer, but 18 months ago, when Vieira signed for City. His presence on the training ground and in the dressing room would’ve benefitted our abundance of young talent, without question.

The calls for Martin Keown himself to be brought in as defensive coach were also met with more than positive agreement from most, if not all, Gooners. But, Keown himself said that he would not have been keen on that arrangement. Football, like life, is all about timing. And quite often, bad timing.

The acquisition of Bergkamp as part of the coaching staff would feel like Christmas come early at Arsenal too, but – again as Dennis said in the Keown interview – moving back to Holland to gain his coaching badges with the Dutch FA was right for him and his family. Who knows what the future holds, but the non-flying Dutchman’s kryptonite would again remain an issue for Champions League away days.

A dream coaching team of Dennis, Keown, Bobby, Bouldy, Tony and Thierry would be schoolboy stuff, but isn’t realistic in the Premier League. The most successful Premier League managers have fewer hands-on coaches than other European clubs. That said, I do believe there will be a change in the coaching department next season.

I feel this will be Pat Rice’s last year as he struggles with his knees. It’s a struggle for a man that has spent the vast majority of his 62 years on the training ground. Gilles Grimandi would be my bet to take his place as the Frenchman has become Wenger’s most trusted scout, aside from Steve Rowley.

Back to Dennis! He believes that Arsenal lack a world class centre forward that would allow van Persie to take up his old No.10 position in a more conventional 4-4-2 – or interpretation thereof.

Many Gooners have been crying out for 4-4-2, or 4-4-1-1 since Cesc departed. But, we don’t have a centre forward that we can rely on finishing off our hard work. The fact remains, the best finisher we have is RVP. And nobody will ever be as good a No.10 as Bergkamp himself. Is it any coincidence we haven’t won anything since he hung up his boots?