It is seven years since Steve Bould last managed an Arsenal youth side, but that could be set to change, with the former Gunners defender reportedly in line to take over from Freddie Ljungberg as the club’s U23 coach.
If Bould does find himself back in the dugout it will be intriguing to see how his coaching style has changed since 2012, and whether he can help to accelerate the development of a crop of extremely exciting young prospects.
Bould initially rejoined Arsenal as a youth coach in 2001 and worked his way up to eventually take charge of the U18s, whom he led to successive league titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10, in addition to winning the FA Youth Cup in 2009.
During that time Bould oversaw the progress of some very talented players, including Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny, while he also coached the likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Sanchez Watt and Henri Lansbury, who were very highly regarded at the time.
None of the players that 56-year-old previously coached are still in the youth set-up, indeed Hector Bellerin is the only individual still at the club that played under Bould.
Given that he is no stranger to youth football, Bould shouldn’t have a problem adapting to coaching the U23s.
In his time in charge of the U18s he prioritised a free-flowing, attacking style of play and implemented a 4-2-3-1 formation long before it was used by the first-team.
Wingers like Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi should especially enjoy working under him, as well as creative talents such as Ben Cottrell.
Arsenal U18s were always vulnerable defensively under Bould’s guidance, although in truth the U23s did also concede with regularity under Ljungberg this campaign.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether Bould puts his own stamp on the team or whether he instead finds himself under instructions to play a similar style of football to the one preferred by Unai Emery, as Ljungberg seemingly did.
Whereas Ljungberg only criticised his players rarely last season, Bould wasn’t afraid to shout at individuals when managing the U18s, and on some occasions gave them an expletive-laden debrief on the pitch after the game before heading back to the dressing room.
One thing that Bould certainly possesses is vast experience of coaching at youth level and a detailed understanding of the difficulties that young players face, with some of those who worked under him before no longer in the game.
If he does become the new coach of Arsenal U23s then it could well prove to be an inspired appointment, although the squad will inevitably had to undergo another period of adaptation.