I Felt like an Agony Aunt at Arsenal; Says Bruce Rioch
Guidi, Mark, Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
BRUCE RIOCH spent more time dealing with his stars' problems than discussing tactics when he was boss at Arsenal.
And in his final team-talk he told his players he felt more like an agony aunt than a football manager!
It was August 1996 at a pre-season friendly against Ipswich and he'll probably never deliver a more accurate analysis.
Tony Adams was about to admit he was an alcoholic. Paul Merson had already held his hands up to the same illness. And Ian Wright couldn't stop himself breaking the code of discipline on and off the park.
The strain of trying to cope without the full commitment of three of the club's best players became too much for Rioch and it eventually cost him his job.
It was a pity because Rioch had got the club back on the straight and narrow again after the humiliating bung scandal involving George Graham.
He'd signed Dennis Bergkamp and the Dutchman had helped the club finish fifth in the Premiership and reach the semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup.
But not even the likelihood of improving on that could persuade the Highbury board, who had been less than supportive, into giving the former Scotland World Cup star time to sort it out.
Rioch's now at Norwich City - after knocking back the Aberdeen job in November 1997 - and the club is on the verge of the Premiership play-offs because he'd doing what he does best - coaching and managing.
The well-spoken Scotsman said: "There has been a sense of frustration in seeing Arsenal doing so well because I'd like to think that given time I could have won trophies with them.
"They are a great club and I'm proud to have been a part of it but there was sadness that I left after just one season.
"But there has been pleasure for me in the fact that Dennis Bergkamp has been such a major influence. I bought him and knew he would be fantastic. …