Another link to our values and the true essence of Arsenal Football Club was severed recently.
With the news of Steve Bould being axed from his job as Coach of the U23’s, it reminded many of us the importance of having true luminaries of the club involved behind the scenes. Bould’s last post before he was told to fall on his sword was especially vital.
The U23’s are the last step before the first team. On the cusp of actually pulling on a shirt and joining a long list of heroes and household names that have worn the crest on their chest and attempted to do the Cannon proud. They will be in no doubt the importance of such a responsibility – and Bould being the guiding hand was perfect in terms of handing down the knowledge of what it takes to represent Arsenal Football Club, the right way.
And this is something that should be imprinted upon every stage of a players journey through Hale End. And why hiring former players of the club whose name is synonymous with our red and white makes complete sense.
But Bouldy being fired from his role in what appears to be another backroom shakeup, is another case of Arsenal straying further away from what separates us from the rest. The class, the history, the reputation for doing things the right way.
To be fair to the current crop, it appears as if things have been taught the right way. Bukayo Saka, Smith-Rowe, Willock, Nelson etc – they stay away from the bright lights, they put maximum effort into every minute on the pitch and they speak eloquently in front of camera. They don’t attract negativity to the club. They are shining examples of a youth system operating excellently.
But severing the ties to our past, if it continues, will have an impact not now, but in a decade or two. In these times of corporate power bending the will of the entire sport, it is even more fundamental that the roots of the club remain entrenched, rather than pulled up.
And with Bould gone, it is only Ryan Garry, from a former player point of view, that can offer that, handed down view of what is needed to take the burden of that heavy cannon.
So that places a huge emphasis on Per Mertesacker. Not one of the old generation, but a player that embodied the values that we once held dear. The German was class throughout and in many interviews, spoke vociferously about what separated Arsenal from the rest.
And now being head of The Academy, Mertesacker must make sure that some of the history and tradition of the club is taught.
And most importantly, how to behave when you’re an Arsenal player.
Otherwise, the slide into becoming just another faceless club will continue. Us fans know what Arsenal represents, but what the club does and its players, is an entirely different thing.
And thank you Steve Bould. 33 years of your life you’ve dedicated to this club. That means you’re part of it, forever ingrained into the DNA.
We’ll do our best to ensure the baton doesn’t get dropped.