Arsenal have parted company with Under-23 manager Steve Bould after almost 20 years of coaching at the club.
Bould enjoyed a legendary career at Arsenal as a player and was a fixture of their defensive line under George Graham and in the early part of Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
He left for Sunderland in 1999 but returned two years later and took up a coaching role within the academy. He managed their Under-18s for more than a decade before he was appointed as Wenger’s assistant in 2012.
He went on to assist Unai Emery and was a key part of the transition out of the Wenger era. After Mikel Arteta was appointed in 2019, however, Bould took charge of the U23s as part of a major shakeup of the coaching set-up.
He has managed the reserve side for the past two seasons and has been a central figure in the development of the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. But it is now being widely reported that he has been sacked as the club look to take things in a new direction.
The reasons for the decision are unclear. At face value, it may seem like the underperformance of the reserve side played its part, with the Gunners finishing tenth in Premier League 2. But it is unlikely that results have factored in too much, given the primary focus of reserve management is on player development.
Claims that Arteta personally dismissed Bould from his role appear to be an oversimplification. Per Mertesacker is the man who oversees the academy at Arsenal while sporting director Edu also has a major role to play in club decisions, so the call is more likely to have come from those two than the first-team manager.
It may just be that Bould is a casualty of the club’s recent efforts to modernise and move away from the old regime, but in any case, it’s a sad end to his long association with the club.