By Tony Attwood
Rioch had one season at Arsenal – 1995/6. He can point to the season as having some success such as
- Reaching the UEFA Cup for the following year, having come fifth in the league
- League Cup Semi-Final, lost on away goals
But we might also note that Arsenal were knocked out of the the FA Cup in the 3rd round by Sheffield United who played one league below us, and the fact that we ended up 19 points behind the winners of the league, and 25 points above the relegation spots. And eight minutes from the end of the last game of the season we were losing (when we needed to win) and thus almost failed to get even into the UEFA cup.
Rioch might also claim that his great legacy was the signing of Dennis Bergkamp from Inter in the summer of 1995, along with David Platt.
But against that we might add that David Dein seems to have had a lot to do with those deals, and that Kevin Campbell and Stefan Schwarz were allowed to drift away, while Alan Smith confirmed he could no longer play because of cartilage problems. The squad was looking dangerously poor at the time.
Against that we might look at the team we did have…
Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Adams, Bould, Wright, Merson, Keown, Parlour, Bergkamp, Platt… not a bad selection of players.
However what gives us the biggest insight into the fact that Rioch was not all he seems is that at the end of the season he appears to have fallen out with the board over money for transfers.
This man had spent more on transfers than anyone before, and through his own strange approach to tactics had put Ian Wright on the wing, before dropping him, (leading to him ending the season with a transfer request), and yet wanted more money!!!
I’m going to leave the analysis of the Rioch season in detail until the next article, but while we deal with the man and his career it is worth seeing what happened after Arsenal to Bruce Rioch.
He next worked as assistant to Stewart Houston at QPR but left after just a year (you might start to see a pattern here).
Then he went to Norwich City, and did manage two seasons at the club, but he never got them anywhere near the play offs. Interestingly he again blamed someone else for the problem – in this case it was the lack of ambition of the board. He probably said the same about Arsenal.
But there is always another team and Rioch went on to Wigan. He stayed for seven months. The club said he resigned. He says he was sacked.
It seems that by now the football world was getting the hang of the Rioch short term game, and he was unable to find a job for four years – until eventually OB in the Danish top league gave him a job. He lasted two years. He said his wife was ill, while the club said there was a dispute between Rioch and the club. He didn’t win anything.
Next up (June 2008) it was Danish champions AaB who had to suffer a Rioch spell. He managed to get the club into third position in the group stage of the Champions League but then on 23 October 2008 he was dismissed by AaB who, having been champions the previous season without Rioch now had just two victories from ten games and were second from bottom in the league.
The last I heard of Rioch he was running training sessions at Falmouth Town, and Cornish non-League club.
Untold Arsenal on Facebook here
History of Arsenal including the series on the failures of Herbert Chapman
Making the Arsenal – the book of Arsenal death and rebirth