Surely a defensive coach wouldn’t be a bad thing?

Arsene Wenger has been very quick to dismiss the need for any coaching re-enforcements this season and in fact was quite angry at suggestions that he needs a new member of the team, quipping to one reporter:

“I have just completed 30 years of coaching. I don’t want to answer this kind of question.”

But it could be the way in which the media have approach this one and of course, the inability of our board to recognise any failings that couple up with the dismissal of such an idea. I definitely think it will be a good idea, and why I am qualified to make such a comment. Well, it’s simple maths to me. Previously, we had a back four of:

Sagna – Gallas – Toure – Clichy

We’ve gone through mixes of this which have seen:

Sagna – Toure – Vermaelen – Clichy

And even now we’re kind of going between these back fours:

Sagna – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Santos


Sagna – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Gibbs

What is evident there is that there have been several different players in each of those positions, and the outcome is pretty much the same with all of them… individual mistakes and problems communicating and playing as a unit…

Now let me take your mind back to 2005/2006 when a certain Arsenal side managed to make it all the way to the Champions League final with a makeshift defence which looked something like this:

Eboue – Toure – Senderos – Flamini

Four players who you will most likely cringe at if you saw them play at the back together

Former manager Terry Neill said this at the time:

“The ingredients are there. They have the qualities to do as well as their predecessors. They have good examples to follow in what the former players have done. Behind the scenes Martin Keown has been there on the training ground doing his coaching badges and I don’t think they could have had better mentors than Keown and Pat Rice. George Graham made sure the back four defended and kept clean sheets whereas Wenger likes his players to have the freedom and express it and go forward more. The famous back four had a long time together without the disruption of injuries, that makes this makeshift back four all the more remarkable.”

The key thing that was present was that Martin Keown was at the club taking his coaching badges at the time – and what a difference he looks to have made to 4 players who (with the exception of Senderos) are naturally defenders. If Keown’s presence can shake Eboue, Toure, Senderos & Flamini into an unpenetrable fortress, just imagine what he could do with the likes of a Mertersacker, Vermaelen, Sagna and Gibbs / Santos.

Surely it’s worth a go?

  • arsefan101

    Can you please send this blog to Mr. Wenger???

  • Bonathan

    does martin keown still have a role? i thought he had some sort of part time role.

    if not, then why not? it was keown who had a big hand to play in toure being converted into a CB. We probably wouldn’t need any new blood if we sort the coaching out.

  • TrueGunner33

    y3eh but you know he’s never gona get one. Looks like more severe beatings will be required before he gets one

  • TrueGunner33

    Does anyone really believe Wenger will buy another central defender? I remember in 2007 when we bought Eduardo, we were linked with still more strikers (Anelka and Huntelaar especially), and Wenger’s reply was, “We don’t collect strikers. We buy the players we need.”

    I feel the purchase of Mertesacker ends further interest in defenders for the time being, regardless of what we as fans want. Yes, I’d say we only have three decent center-backs at the club, and we could use another, but Wenger will point to Djourou and Squillaci as credible alternatives.

    Cahill will probably move to Tottenham.

    I’m not sure I mind. Sure, he’ll play absolute stormers against us (because when you’ve been linked to Arsenal or used to play for them, you have a lot of juvenile angst to release it seems…or maybe that was just David Bentley), but I think we have a pretty solid base on which to work, provided Vermaelen can actually stay fit.

    I’m much more interested that we buy a DM, and even a more experienced RB back-up

  • TrueGunner33

    We can only dream of a wealthy benefactor with an interest in seeing us succeed as a football much less invest money into buying players. The football business is all about money – those who have it win the trophies and those who don’t (like Arsenal) achieve nothing. Reality really sucks at times and it hurts me to say this as an Arsenal fan but our days of challenging for trophies are well and truly over. Kroenke is here to bleed the club dry and Wenger’s ineptitude will doom it further still.

  • Bonathan

    So basically, since wenger took over the club, initially he had good defenders who had already learned their trade and didn’t need any lessons in defending and passed on their expertise until about 2004.

    from 2005-2008 we had martin kepwn playing an integral role in coaching our defence.

    Since then, i think it’s fair to say, things have gone progressively downhill until we find ourselves in the shambolic state we have today. Sounds like someone needs help in that area and doesn’t like to admit it to me.

    This is the first time wenger has not had the hand of any of our old school backline, and look at the results, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that wenger is not the games most gifted manager when it comes to sorting out a defence. he has his own way, which is obviously not very effective.

    would we have conceded 8 goals at old trafford with keown still coaching? 4 horrendous goals at blackburn? highly doubtful. Things may not get better till he accepts he needs help. i imagine bolton will be looking forward to playing us this weekend, more than ever.

  • ZimGooner

    Arsenal don’t need a defensive coach. It’s like teaching Wenger how to suck eggs. The team needs to find its winning ways, they can do it.

    On the Bolton game, the worst fear is a player breaking a leg at the behest of Kevin Davis aka Jeepers Creepers. KD has gotten away with murder and is only second to Joey Barton.

  • sharad

    Everyone acknowledges Wenger achievements but PL football has left him behind and he refuses to adapt. Stubbornness and ego could well ruin his legacy and devalue his achievements. He brings it on himself I’m afraid.

  • yemi

    I still fail to realize why our transfer dealings had to come so late. If these guys had been on the plane to Asia, i am sure the story would have been different.

  • yemi

    I still fail to realize why our transfer dealings had to come so late. If these guys had been on the plane to Asia, i am sure the story would have been different.

    On defensive coach, i never realized we didn’t have one.

  • sharad


  • Kodjo

    @ Sharad

    Please stop lifting articles/analysis from Le Grove. Give them credit or cite references if you intend to use it elsewhere.

    It’s a no brainer…that you’ll be caught in this day and age!!!

  • sharad

    kojo are you thick?
    did you actually read what i stated at the begining of the article

  • Bonathan


    “Arsenal don’t need a defensive coach. It’s like teaching Wenger how to suck eggs.”

    but is it really like teaching wenger to suck eggs? wenger has had huge help from our old schoolers right up until 2008. the last three years have been the first years that wenger hasn’t had their help, and the defence has got worse and worse. you have to ask the question, ‘would wenger have had so much success with us without the influence of amams, keown, bould etc” or would he have failed like so many other foreign managers that have failed in the premiership??

    sure, wenger is a great manager, but he owes a lot to the back 5 that he inherited and that went on to mentor newcomers to the team. Without the defensive aid that was always there for him, his attacking football would probably never have made the impact it did.

    we are only now recently seeing, for the first time, wengers defensive expertise being put to the test, and it’s failing miserably. without that back five wenger may not have made much of an impact on the english game at all.