WTTGT Writer: Naz Hak
‘It’s important for me because he knows how I work and we have a good understanding and complement each other. The day he stops will be a massive loss to this club.’
Truer words have never been spoken by Pat Rice’s oldest friend and ally, Arsène Wenger. The Arsenal manager has repeatedly been applauded for his revolutionary attacking style ever since the day he unleashed his vision on a cold, bleak winters night at Ewood Park.
Though one man has stuck by Monsieur Wenger’s side through the sometimes heavily criticised vision, and that is none other than [Sir] Pat Rice. It is a strange concept when a member of the coaching staff needs no introduction, but that will always be the case when it comes to the Arsenal No.2 as his familiarity is so predominant in the football world and his track-suited figure in the technical area can be recognised with much ease.
Rice warms up with the Arsenal squad
The story goes that Rice went to pick up Wenger for his first day of training and was invited in. Rice knew from the moment he stepped into the house that he had found his laurel or his yang. What he saw was televisions playing football from the four corners of the globe. Such was the intensity of the search for talent, Rice knew from that moment that a legacy was being prepared and he was very much involved.
Pat Rice’s life has been shaped around hard work and modesty. From his joining of the Arsenal at the tender age of 15, his 528 appearances span a 13 year playing career, before his rise up the coaching ranks after a magnificent stint with the youth team. To show his presence and humble manner towards the club, he was recently voted the Arsenals 17th best player in history. An accolade he met with: “I could name you 30 better players than me.”
When Arsène Wenger’s appointment was met with much scepticism, it was all but obvious that he needed a man who knew the club, someone that would show his intent and instantly win over fans. Rice still has the best win percentage of any Arsenal manager to date since his caretaker role after Bruce Rioch’s departure. While in charge, Rice took over 3 games with a 100% record so it didn’t take a well-educated Wenger long to select his right-hand-man.
It was always going to be a hard article to write without relating to Wenger but the two go hand-in-hand. I could give you constant similes involving double teams but the truth is, they would be nowhere without one another. Rice likes to keep a low key and has had ample opportunities to progress in the managerial field, but in all honesty, his forty-four year connection with the club is watertight and not something you can just throw away.
After four decades of Pat Rice’s name being circulated in football, he finally admitted that he was to retire. Unsurprisingly however, he pulled a sudden u-turn. Apparently letting go just isn’t an option to the underrated, underappreciated Pat Rice.