Keown interviews Bould: 'I missed the 'magic hour' after a victory'

MARTIN KEOWN INTERVIEWS STEVE BOULD: Arsenal legend and new boss of Belgian club Lommel catches up with his old team-mate to talk Arsene Wenger, Dennis Bergkamp… and ordering 35 pints of lager!

  • Steve Bould is enjoying his new challenge as manager of Belgian club Lommel
  • Bould says he wants to follow Arsene Wenger’s lead and be calm under pressure  
  • Gunners legend says he isn’t bitter afterbeing dismissed as Under-23s coach 
  • Bould also backed Jack Wilshere to be a success as coach of Arsenal Under-18s 

After 33 years with Arsenal, seven of which he spent as Arsene Wenger’s assistant, Steve Bould is set for a new adventure. He is about to start his first season in management, having been appointed boss of Belgian side Lommel SK, one of 11 clubs owned by the ever-expanding City Football Group.

Bould has spent the week at Manchester City’s academy base, preparing his players for the impending season, although the 37-degree heat means they are only doing indoor gym work on the day we meet.

The 59-year-old spent most of his career in the shadows — he wasn’t one for interviews while operating as a centre back or coaching Arsenal’s Under 18s, Under 23s or the first team — but he kindly agreed to speak to his old team-mate Martin Keown.

Steve Bould is enjoying his job as manager of Lommel, who are part of City Football Group

Bould spent 33 years at Arsenal, seven of which were as assistant to manager Arsene Wenger

Together they won a glut of trophies for Arsenal and Bould is here to talk about his new job, being let go by the club he loves, management, Wenger and more. Kieran Gill listened in.

MARTIN KEOWN: You’ve just had a year out of football after leaving Arsenal. Are you feeling refreshed and ready to go again?

STEVE BOULD: It was the first break I’ve ever had and I enjoyed it. I played a lot of golf! I didn’t watch much football. I had no stress — I didn’t have to win a game, I wasn’t worried about a result or somebody’s development.

But there came a time when I thought, ‘I’m missing it’. It’s hard to explain — the way you miss winning. It only lasts, what, 60 minutes after a game? That little window, that ‘magic hour’, I’ve never replaced that. I struggled to replace that, so that was what I missed.

Bould gained plenty of experience of coaching while in charge of Arsenal’s youth teams

KEOWN: Did you always have one eye on management?

BOULD: I didn’t even have an eye on coaching when I retired from playing. I didn’t know what to do. I thought I’d do my UEFA B Licence and, when Liam Brady heard I was doing that, he got in touch to ask if I’d take on the Under 12s at Arsenal.

That’s where it started. I coached the Under 12s, Under 13s, Under 16s and so on and so forth. It’s been a journey. When I joined as Wenger’s assistant, he said to me, ‘Steve, it’s not about us, it’s about players’. I just enjoy developing players.

KEOWN: How did this opportunity with Lommel crop up?

BOULD: Another job came up in the City Football Group, in New York.

KEOWN: Where Patrick Vieira spent two years as manager…

BOULD: So I got in touch with Brian Marwood (former Arsenal player and the City Football Group’s managing director of global football) to ask him about it. He said there might be something somewhere else, but didn’t tell me what it was.

He added, ‘However, you will have to interview — it’s not a given.’ It turned out it was Lommel. So I went across, interviewed and landed the job.

KEOWN: So how will it work? Are you developing players within the City Football Group’s stable of clubs? Or are you allowed to bring in your own talent in the transfer window?

Former Arsenal player Brian Marwood alerted Bould to the job opening at Lommel

BOULD: Initially I’ll be working with the players the group want there. The biggest part of the job is developing players. It’s a great club. You would love it. It’s very family-oriented — there are a lot of people who have been here an awful long time.

It reminds me of when I went to Stoke in ’79. The kit man had been there for donkey’s. The tea ladies. Everyone knew everyone’s name — a little like Highbury used to be. It’s got a great feel.

KEOWN: Wenger would have been getting his famous flip-chart out right about now. ‘Targets for this season — Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup’. So what are you writing on your flip-chart, Bouldy?

BOULD: ‘Try to win’. I’ve done a few meetings and I’ve told them about my experience — how it felt to win and that ‘magic hour’ after a game. That’s the feeling I want them all to have.

I’ve met all the players individually. I want to get to know them, who they are, what they need, where they want to go and, really, what are their goals? Their goals are more important than mine. It’s not about me — it’s about them.


Bould stressed that Ray Parlour’s story about him order 35 pints of beer isn’t true!

Ray Parlour loves to tell old tales, including one about Bould. Arsenal were on a pre-season tour in 1997 when Wenger gave them a day off.

Five of the English lads decided to go to the pub when Gilles Grimandi asked if he could go with them. Bould asked Grimandi what he would like to drink.

‘Small glass of wine,’ the Frenchman said. ‘No problem,’ said Bould, turning to the bartender and ordering 35 pints of beer to go along with that, seven per person.

BOULD: (laughs) Don’t always believe what Ray tells you!

KEOWN: His stories grow arms and legs. Each time he tells that tale about pre-season in ’97, your order goes up by five pints! Half of Ray’s stories seem to be about me!

BOULD: I’m the other half, I think! Pre-seasons are totally different now.

KEOWN: This must be your first time living abroad?

BOULD: It is, so it is out of my comfort zone. The locals here don’t know who Steve Bould is or what he did, but it’s nice to experience a different culture.

KEOWN: Let’s talk Arsenal. You left after 33 years. Was that hard to take? Do you still love the club and look out for their results?

BOULD: Of course. I always look out for the Arsenal because you know what it’s like — once you’ve been associated with them, it’s hard not to. I love the club. I’ve got nothing to moan about whatsoever. It happens to a lot of people.

It’s part of football. You’re always going to get removed at some stage somewhere. Honestly, Martin, there’s no bitterness whatsoever. People have opinions and that’s what they do, so there’s no issue.

KEOWN: It’s interesting that Jack Wilshere has now been brought back to Arsenal as head coach of the Under 18s.

BOULD: I’m close to Jack and he’s fantastic. People forget about how intelligent he is. He’s a smart boy, quiet, but he’s a lot more studious than people imagine. He loves the club and he’s only got good intentions for the kids there. I’m sure he’ll do a great job.

Jack Wilshere has the qualities needed to be a success as Arsenal Under-18s coach, says Bould

Bould spent 11 years at Arsenal as a player. He won his first title in 1989, a 2-0 win at Anfield securing Arsenal the championship over Liverpool. His third and final title came in 1998 via a 4-0 win over Everton.

Everybody remembers Tony Adams scoring the fourth in that triumph in the Highbury sunshine. But it was Bould’s ball over the top that created the chance.

KEOWN: It was a clearance, wasn’t it? Tell me the truth!

BOULD: (laughs) Well let me ask you: who wore No 10 the day Arsenal won the title at Anfield?

KEOWN: It wasn’t you, was it, Bouldy?

BOULD: Of course it was! I tell everybody it wasn’t only Dennis Bergkamp who wore No 10! I wore it, too!

KEOWN: You had some great times as a player. I’m trying to picture you as a manager. Will you be more George Graham — full of fire — or Wenger — calmness personified?

BOULD: I’d like to be both! I don’t know yet — I just do what’s comfortable. Some of my language cannot be repeated, that’s for sure. But that’s normal for me!

KEOWN: When I used to watch you in the Arsenal dugout, you were very restrained. I didn’t see a lot of emotion.

BOULD: That’s me. You won’t see me jumping up and down.

KEOWN: So if Lommel win the title this year and are promoted to Belgium’s top tier, we won’t see Steve Bould celebrating wildly?

During his playing days at Arsenal, Bould enjoyed plenty of success in terms of silverware

BOULD: You’re not going to see me doing a David Pleat! Well, actually, I can’t promise that.

KEOWN: I imagine one of the most difficult things to do as a manager is to bite your tongue after a match. Have you found yourself wrestling with that?

Bould wore the No 10 shirt during Arsenal’s famous title winning success at Anfield in 1989

Bould stated that he is eager to follow Wenger’s example by remaining calm under pressure

BOULD: So far I haven’t had an excuse to get angry! It will be interesting to find out. I’m hoping I’ve learned from Wenger. I’m sure if I had any issues, I could pick up the phone to him — hopefully he wouldn’t put the receiver down on me — and maybe to Patrick Vieira too.

The one thing that stood out about Wenger was how calm he was. That’s the direction I will try to go in — I can’t promise it will always be that way, but I’ll try.

KEOWN: We previously did a piece with Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl on their pre-season trip to Austria and he let us watch their training session.

He said, ‘I’m not worried if you take my ideas or try to copy me — I’m confident I can do this as well as anyone’. It was a fantastic openness.

BOULD: You can watch my sessions any time — I’m not sure they’ll be the best you’ve ever seen! But you’re welcome in Belgium whenever.

KEOWN: Bouldy, thanks for this. Some good beer out in Belgium, by the way. Kwak is rocket fuel at 8.4 per cent. Just don’t go ordering 35 pints of it!

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