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Name Alan Smith
Gender Male
Ethnic English
Job English Football Coach
Desc Alan Smith was the prototype for the modern target man. Although he had a respectable goalscoring record, his main attribute was his ability to bring others into play. Smith worked tirelessly for the Arsenal cause, sacrificing his body to provide a platform for more technically gifted players to cause damage. Such selflessness endeared him to the Arsenal fans forever

Affiliation

Org England National Team
Club as Coach Crystal Palace
Club as Player Arsenal FC

2003 08 13 Retrieve

[Arsenal Forward Alan Smith after Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires sign new deals] I’m sure Arsenal would have loved to have got this out of the way before pre-season started. There was an air of uncertainty about the place

2015 01 22 Retrieve

[Alan Smith talks about Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick] What distinctly hit me was that they played in all black that night. None of them had shaved and they looked a pretty ferocious team. I was thinking ‘this is going to be a long evening’

[Alan Smith talks about Palace centre-back Richard Shaw who was given the job of man-marking Cantona] Shawsie had this sort of bubbly, curly hair. He put a load of grease on. He used to put a lot of Vaseline around his face and mouth. He was the most charming, gentle guy you could ever meet but he looked pretty ferocious on the field. I think he was really up for marking Cantona

[Cantona is the subject of a series of hefty challenges, from Shaw in particular] If you want to say ‘gave him one’, Shawsie certainly went in. I don’t have a lot of sympathy with Cantona. He is a big man, carries himself well, and he had given a fair amount out. Shawsie just thought ‘it’s on the halfway line, it’s in front of the dug-out - I’ll go for it’

Afterwards, I saw Sir Alex and he shook hands and said, ‘What the bloody hell was wrong with that then?’ I said ‘Alex, that’s an everyday occurrence in Putney High Street’. Because of his tunnel vision for everything, he was even trying to put a case that Cantona had been badly treated. I just sort of said, ‘No Alex, totally agree, nothing wrong with it. Everyday occurrence’

2015 08 20 Retrieve

[Alan Smith on Thierry Henry] I spoke to a number of pros and they all said they hadn’t seen anything like it (Thierry Henry’s performance against Liverpool in a 4-2 Premier League win at Highbury in April 2004. Henry scored a hat-trick). On his day, he had become unplayable, and more and more since then it has been his day. I have to say I haven’t seen a player like him. He’s an athlete with great technical ability and a tremendous desire to be the best

2015 11 28 Retrieve

[on Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira] He had everything. He could score goals, tackle, was a leader and a fearsome player in his pomp

2016 02 03 Retrieve

[On Dennis Bergkamp] [. . .] he saw the picture so quickly, adjusted to any sort of strikers in front, whether Wright, Henry or Anelka, or others. Such a clever player, who scored brilliant goals, and had a steel about him too

2016 02 17 Retrieve

[on Tony Adams] [. . .] he was a captain, an inspirational leader, a reformed character and one of those players you want alongside you in a battle.

2016 02 18 Retrieve

[Quote on Ashley Cole] He was the archetypal modern-day footballer in terms of getting up and down the pitch, a very tough defender and a great competitor

2016 03 24 Retrieve

[on Alan Shearer] A jack-of-all-trades who, in defiance of the proverb, has mastered them all

2016 09 14 Retrieve

[Quotes on Luis Suarez] An incredible talent with a magnificent work ethic. Inspired everyone around him at Liverpool, even only briefly, and now showing his class at Barcelona

2017 03 08 Retrieve

[Quotes on John Terry] He has been around forever and his consistency has been amazing. (A) natural leader and a very good player positionally

2017 03 09 Retrieve

[Quotes on Didier Drogba] A beast of a centre-forward who would mercilessly bully defenders. Even better, he scored in big games

2017 03 10 Retrieve

[Quotes on Didier Drogba] The all-round centre forward, somebody that at his peak any centre-half would have nightmares trying to tame. Strong as an ox, quick and also a great finisher who worked the channels and held the ball up really well

2017 03 11 Retrieve

[Quotes on Frank Lampard] His longevity and the number of goals he scored from midfield was amazing. He is a fantastic professional as well

2019 12 02 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Mikel Arteta would be his No.1 choice to succeed Unai Emery in the Arsenal hot seat] I would like them to be bold and go for a younger, more progressive manager. I’d like Mikel Arteta. I know a lot of Arsenal fans say, ‘He’s never been a manager. How could you do that? We need tried and trusted experience’. But I think he’s going to be a top manager quite shortly. If Arsenal don’t get him I think somebody else will. If he stays at Manchester City when Pep Guardiola steps down, he’ll be a stick on to take over. From what you hear of his work at Man City, he takes so much of the training, the players respect him a great deal. I think he’s been responsible for improvements in Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling - so I think he is excellent. He’s got that Arsenal connection as well. He’d be my choice

Brendan Rodgers, at my former club Leicester, I’d be delighted if they managed to secure him. I think his ethos suits Arsenal as well. When his name was mentioned before when they went for Emery a lot of people scoffed at it. But he’s since shown what a top manager he is. They have to take their time, they have to make sure they make a good choice

2019 12 06 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Arsenal cannot afford to pass up a second opportunity to hand their managerial reins to Mikel Arteta] A bright, ambitious, innovative and, yes, young coach would, for me, be the order of the day. ­Someone capable of drilling this side to within an inch of its life. Someone with the tools to improve individuals and build a unit that eventually totals more than the sum of its parts. All sorts of names have been thrown into the mix. Max Allegri, Patrick Vieira, Brendan Rodgers, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and even Mauricio Pochettino. Of those, Rodgers and Pochettino stand out for me. But if the Arsenal ­hierarchy really want to be bold, if they want to make a statement with a daring appointment, I’d advocate Mikel Arteta, Pep Guardiola’s richly-talented assistant at Manchester City

I know there’s a world of difference between coaching and ­managing. It’s much easier to work in the shadows when the buck stops ­elsewhere. But from what I’ve heard, Arteta has everything in his armoury to become a top manager. If it doesn’t happen at the Emirates, it’ll happen somewhere else and that would sting badly if Arsenal make another mistake. Arsenal’s former chief executive Ivan Gazidis, we hear, was very close to choosing Arteta as Arsene Wenger’s replacement before losing his nerve and plumping for Emery. In fairness, you can understand that. Arteta ­represented a gamble that Gazidis wasn’t willing to take. But now it’s time. A Change Is Gonna Come, the great Sam Cooke once sang. Yes, a change is inevitable. But will it be the right one?

2019 12 13 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Carlo Ancelotti would be the wrong choice to become Arsenal’s next permanent manager] Arsenal cannot lean on a solid rearguard this time, and that obvious lack of resilience and organisation makes the task so much harder for the new man. That’s why I repeat my firm belief that the situation demands an innovative, inspirational coach, someone with the ability to quickly instil a decisive vision and culture on the training ground that transfers to match days in a positive way. For me, someone like Carlo ­Ancelotti would be the wrong choice. As successful as the Italian has been, he’s more of an old-school manager who steadies the ship through clever man-management. Arsenal’s predicament has moved beyond that. It requires a tough visionary who can grab hold of this squad and fashion a way of playing that, in the short term, will achieve better results by making the team harder to play against

[He went on to express his belief that Arteta would be the best fit for the role] I said it last week and I’ll say it again. Mikel Arteta has what it takes. I just hope that the Arsenal board feel the same way

2019 12 18 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Mikel Arteta is the right manager at the right time for Arsenal] They need someone to give them an injection of life, new ideas, modern ideas on the way the game is going now and yes, it is a risk, but it’s a calculated gamble that I think will pay off. Yes, he’s never been a manager before so it’s a vastly different job, but I think he carries with him an authority. He’s quite ruthless if he wants to be, he’s very driven like Guardiola, and Arsenal need that at the moment. Obviously, he’s had a huge influence from Guardiola up at Manchester City. He takes a lot of the sessions and Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne have both credited him with improving their game.

Work on the training ground is needed. They need to instil some good habits because a lot of bad ones have crept in over recent seasons. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I can see him having a fairly quick impact with what he’s going to do on the training ground. Arteta knows the Premier League extremely well. He knows Arsenal well. Of course, there’s a risk involved because when the buck stops with you, when you are making decisions that have ramifications on the team and the reaction of the supporters, he’s got to take all that on board, and it will be a learning process for him. However, I think the basic ingredients are in place. His ability as a coach, first and foremost, is what that squad needs to move forward

It’s not going to be a quick fix, but I would expect to see his fingerprints on his first few matches and some differences but the one worry for any Arsenal fan is the fact he probably hasn’t got too much money to spend over the next few transfer windows. They seem to have spent that in advance on the likes of Nicolas Pepe and David Luiz, but by the same token, that’s why they need a good coach to improve the players they’ve already got on board. I think he’s the one that can do that

2019 12 20 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Arteta will move bad influences out of Arsenal] I think we will see his influence fairly quickly. This tough, uncompromising character knows exactly what he wants in terms of work ethic and overall style. Anyone unwilling to follow will get very short shrift. They won’t get a look-in under the Spaniard. For that reason, we might see certain individuals being moved on, possibly in January, the summer at the latest. Unfortunately, there are some bad influences in that dressing room, only interested in themselves. They’ve got to be shifted fairly sharpish, if at all possible.

As for the style of play, if Arteta wants to follow the Manchester City blueprint, he’ll seek to bring in a Fernandinho type, someone capable of both protecting the defence and quickly moving the ball forward from that pivotal slot at the base of midfield. To be fair, that may require inspiration from the recruitment team, seeing as Arsenal’s budget just now might not stretch to an expensive ready-made answer. Just ahead of that position, I could see Arteta working hard on Matteo Guendouzi, an obvious talent, blessed with the right attitude. Some lessons in movement and decision-making could transform the young Frenchman into a top player.

The same could be said for the two full-backs, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney. It’s just a pity that ­Tierney will be out for a while. For me, Rob Holding is another who could make vast leaps forward with the right tuition in a solid system. God knows, Arteta needs someone to make the grade in central defence, a car-crash department in recent times

2019 12 21 Retrieve

[Alan Smith feels that Mikel Arteta will be a ruthless coach of Arsenal and will not be disturbed by the reputation of the players] I think they have made the right decision. I am really delighted and excited about the decision. I think Arsenal needs this type of coach in the situation, which is going to kick some butts, it will be clear and concise about what he wants from Players and the team

Your main body of work will be on the training ground, and that’s where it excels, I think. It’s a bold decision, but I think it’s the right decision. First, you should choose the players that you think can get a tune. outside, and I think he will be ruthless in that regard, and he won’t worry about reputation and who is earning what. In the long term, you will want to eliminate those who you think are not the right kind. I think there are some in that Arsenal locker room that don’t have the right attitude

I think we will quickly see his influence on a game day, I hope to see a little more organization, and we will see what he is trying to do with the team. It is a calculated bet, but I think he will become a superior manager. If not out with Arsenal, they would be kicking

I think he has the presence and authority to go to that dressing room and demand respect. The club has drifted aimlessly in recent years, but I think they will be anxious now

The success that comes in May is not so much about the classification of the league, I can not see them in the top four, so you have a few months to work on the performance and form of the team. It is about transmitting your philosophy from now until may

2019 12 28 Retrieve

[Arsenal fans urge Mikel Arteta to buy Brighton star Aaron Mooy after Bergkamp wondergoal] What a way to settle it. Shades of Dennis Bergkamp here, the way he took it on his chest and chipped it in. A quite brilliant goal from a really talented player. Great awareness, and look at that finish. Bergkamp would’ve been proud.

2020 01 04 Retrieve

[Alan Smith urges Arsenal to keep Eddie Nketiah as Aubameyang cover after cutting Leeds loan short] Eddie Nketiah has been recalled from their FA Cup third-round-opponents after a tough time at Elland Road. I am sure he learnt a lot under [Marcelo] Bielsa and he deserves a crack back at the Emirates. When he went to Leeds, I was a little ­disappointed because it looked like he could have been useful in the squad but he has done well off the bench and got himself some goals. He will have come to terms with the ­physical aspect of the division and Arsenal will be getting back a more rounded, better player. It would be a shame to see ­Nketiah sent out on loan again - if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette get injured then you are a little short

2020 01 04b Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Mikel Arteta has already removed the toxicity at Arsenal] It is a bit too early for I-told-you-sos. Mikel Arteta has an awful lot of ground to cover and a great deal of coaching to do before anyone can be sure he will lead Arsenal back to the high ground. Nevertheless, the new manager’s work so far has glimmered with searing intensity. Arteta has quickly instilled a group purpose and attitude that has already hoisted the team on to another level.

As a result, 2020 should prove a very exciting year because things will only improve over the coming months after Arteta’s introduction of a structured style that, crucially, has been embraced by the squad. Every pro hankers for guidance and direction. It makes them feel secure if a plan is in place. Now you can see that reassurance in everyone’s body language. The players have been rejuvenated by the gaffer’s game plan.

On a wider level, the upturn in­ ­performance has pacified the doubters and thankfully removed the toxicity that had sadly taken hold at the ­Emirates. We should not underestimate how difficult it is to radically change tack in the middle of a season. Trying to alter the habits of some seemingly set in their ways can go horribly wrong in the heat of battle

2020 01 18 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Lacazette shouldn’t be judged on strike rate] Scoreless streaks get microscopically examined. There is nowhere to hide in this stats-driven age. Alexandre Lacazette is getting it just now after failing to find the net in five starts, plus 12 minutes as a substitute at Goodison Park. All sorts of questions are being asked about his form and confidence ahead of a three-match run when top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be ­suspended.

Can the Frenchman step up in his mate’s absence? Is he in the right frame of mind to do the job? Admittedly, it isn’t just about the last few games. Lacazette has notched just six all season. At this rate, he’ll fall a long way short of previous totals. Arsenal’s No.9 isn’t just a predator. He works hard off the ball and links the play very well. He shouldn’t purely be judged by his strike rate.

For that reason alone, I’m inclined to keep faith in a player more than capable of rediscovering his touch in front of goal. With young guns such as Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah acting as back-up, I’d fancy the senior man to respond fairly promptly, which might mean Sheffield United feeling the brunt

2020 02 14 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Mikel Arteta will already be drawing up summer transfer plans at Arsenal] 13 draws have certainly done a lot of damage to the team’s League placing. Imagine if only six of those could have been turned into wins. Arsenal would now be two points above Chelsea in fourth spot, gunning for a Champions League berth that, if secured, would make a massive difference to the whole club. But this is no time for ‘if onlys’. Mikel Arteta still has two trophies in his sights - the Europa League coming up next week in the shape of Olympiakos and the FA Cup, where a win at Portsmouth would see my old club through to the quarter-finals. And Arteta, I’m sure, would have been pleased to get a bit of quality time with his players in Dubai, both on the training ground and off it, where these kinds of breaks can bring everyone together.

It’s a great chance to hammer home what he wants from a tactical aspect and also a chance to nourish team spirit. But as any coach will confirm, you’re only as good as your players. That’s why Arteta will already be looking ahead to the summer when we will doubtless see some interesting transfer activity

2020 03 28 Retrieve

[A switch to Manchester United has also been mooted for Aubameyang] It will obviously hurt a lot more if he goes to another Premier League club and helps them win the Premier League like Robin van Persie did at Manchester United. You’d want to avoid selling him to a rival, to an English club and selling him abroad would be more palatable because he’d be out of people’s consciousness to a certain extent. They wouldn’t be seeing him every week which would help. It’s definitely another consideration though because it would be painful for the fans if he went to a Liverpool or a Manchester City, or whoever, and his goals helped them to more success

2020 04 11 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Thierry Henry is the greatest player to have ever graced the Premier League] Henry is the best player I have ever seen ply his trade in this country. Not just the best striker, but the best player, due to the fact that I saw him do things no one else has done. He reduced top-class opponents into helpless also-rans. He totally embarrassed seasoned professionals with his outrageous pace, strength, skill and confidence. In short, he elevated the striker’s art on to a level not seen before or since. On top of that, the Frenchman teamed up with a player blessed with astonishing ability, whose creative genes dovetailed perfectly with all that Gallic swagger. [Dennis] Bergkamp’s sort do not come around too often. The Dutchman’s dedication set new examples at Arsenal and his quality on matchdays lit up English football. To be honest, I cannot think of another strike partnership in the history of the game that has boasted quite so much lavish talent. Some statement, I know, but I think it’s true

2020 06 04 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Arsenal lack kudos and cash to sign top players] Top players want to be at Champions League clubs. At the moment, Arsenal aren’t in that category and this is where Mikel Arteta has a huge job on his hands to change the perception of Arsenal and more importantly to make them a better side to lift them back into the top four. It won’t be easy as to do that you need quite a lot of money and probably more than Arsenal have got, but Arteta is a manager of authority who has won his squad over. I think he had a part to play in them taking a wage cut so they do listen to him and respect him. He will improve the players, but Aubameyang will be looking at his situation and wondering if he has the time and the patience to hang about. If they do lose him, he’d be a huge loss and he’s a player who guarantees around 25 goals at season. I do feel they’re more organised at the top. I feel with Raul Sanllehi [head of football] and Edu [technical director], they have got their act together in terms of planning ahead but I’m not sure the club has the cash or the kudos to attract the top players

2020 06 11 Retrieve

[Alan Smith says Arteta has a lot of work to do at Arsenal but he’s going to be a top manager] He has got a lot of work to do and a lot of wrongs to put right. It’s not easy to take over mid-stream and you could see certain improvements, a little more steel to the side, better organisation when they lose the ball. They had a lot of draws and if - and it is a big if - they can turn those draws into wins they would be gunning for a Champions League spot. But it’s a long-term project and before that, you fancy he needs a few quid in the transfer market. But he is a coach who can improve the players that he has got. He has got this raft of youngsters coming through from the youth team and I think he will be keen to work with them. They’ve got that hunger and energy. With the break, he has players like Rob Holding [coming back] which is a bonus. I was a big advocate of Arteta getting the job because he is going to be a top manager and hopefully a top manager at Arsenal

2020 06 29 Retrieve

[Danny Ings scored twice as Southampton piled the pressure on struggling Watford with a 3-1 victory at Vicarage Road on Sunday] All in Southampton shirts are at least an eight out of 10 but Ings has almost been a 10. He’s been superb. No wonder he is smiling at the end of the game. He’s tired but he’s loved it out there. Everything he’s done has shone with quality

2020 06 30 Retrieve

[Alan Smith was full of praise for Holding after his man-of-the-match display at Southampton, and the former Arsenal man believes Arteta’s job is to improve what he already has] I gave Holding man of the match against Southampton, and I think longer term he is someone Mikel Arteta can work with. He’s young, has a good attitude, and has the good makings of a centre-half. He used three at the back again, which seems to give him some stability. Tierney is the big plus point; he’s been unlucky with injury since arriving at the club, but he strikes me as an old-school type defender, a young lad that will only get better. There’s obviously loads to do at Arsenal, a great deal to do, but as with any good team you have to start from the back, and that’s what Arteta will be trying to do to give them some stability in results. I think under Arteta they have shown a bit more steel and backbone at times, but it’s a long old job. Of course Saliba is going to arrive at the club before too long, and from what I hear, scouts at Europe’s biggest clubs can’t believe he escaped the net, they can’t believe they didn’t get him instead of Arsenal, so that bodes well. He’s been excellent for St Etienne in the [Virgil] van Dijk mold, in terms of his ability on the ball

I think it’s the way forward for Arsenal; they can’t buy ready-made talent, they need to nurture players and improve them on the training field, which I believe Arteta can do. Players with potential like Saliba, Tierney, Holding, plus Bellerin can get better, so they are the back four as well as those other characters you’ve got; Luiz, Sokratis [Papastathopoulos], [Shkodran] Mustafi, so there is something to go on there. You just want them to have a free run now, without injury problems

2020 06 30b Retrieve

[What is going on with Mesut Ozil?] It seems that Arteta wants to draw a line under it, and convince the players he’s not part of the plans, and he’s passed the buck to Ozil and said: ‘What do you want to do about it?’ Hopefully leave the club would be Arteta’s reasoning. That would free up a bit of money in terms of his wages

It’s always going to be a talking point for as long as Ozil’s at the club. I don’t know whether anything could happen in this transfer window, there aren’t too many links with any clubs. We might end up having this situation for another year until his contract runs out. He might get used now and again, but he won’t be a core figure in his plans

It’s something Arteta could have done without. He’s got enough on his plate, without constant questions about the German’s future. But Arteta is decisive; if he decides somebody doesn’t fit in going forward, no matter how much they’re earning, he’s not going to pick them. That’s strong management, and I think Arsenal need that

Can he fit in at Arsenal? No, I don’t think so. This is an era at the club where everybody has to really dig in and work incredibly hard off the ball. Ozil is too long in the tooth to change his game now, and I don’t think physically he is capable of doing what Arteta wants him to do, either

It might be another year before he leaves the club, but I can’t see much of a future there for him

2020 07 01 Retrieve

[Alan Smith said he sees similarities between Saliba and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk] Of course Saliba is going to arrive at the club before too long, and from what I hear, scouts at Europe’s biggest clubs can’t believe he escaped the net, they can’t believe they didn’t get him instead of Arsenal, so that bodes well. He’s been excellent for St Etienne in the [Virgil] van Dijk mould, in terms of his ability on the ball. I think it’s the way forward for Arsenal; they can’t buy ready-made talent, they need to nurture players and improve them on the training field, which I believe Arteta can do

Players with potential like Saliba, [Kieran] Tierney, [Rob] Holding, plus [Hector] Bellerin can get better, so they are the back four as well as those other characters you’ve got; [David] Luiz, Sokratis [Papastathopoulos], [Shkodran] Mustafi, so there is something to go on there. You just want them to have a free run now, without injury problems

2020 07 15 Retrieve

[Mesut Ozil: What is going on with Arsenal midfielder?] It seems that Arteta wants to draw a line under it, and convince the players he’s not part of the plans, and he’s passed the buck to Ozil and said: ‘What do you want to do about it?’ Hopefully leave the club would be Arteta’s reasoning. That would free up a bit of money in terms of his wages. It’s always going to be a talking point for as long as Ozil’s at the club. I don’t know whether anything could happen in this transfer window, there aren’t too many links with any clubs. We might end up having this situation for another year until his contract runs out. He might get used now and again, but he won’t be a core figure in his plans. It’s something Arteta could have done without. He’s got enough on his plate, without constant questions about the German’s future. But Arteta is decisive; if he decides somebody doesn’t fit in going forward, no matter how much they’re earning, he’s not going to pick them. That’s strong management, and I think Arsenal need that

Can he fit in at Arsenal? No, I don’t think so. This is an era at the club where everybody has to really dig in and work incredibly hard off the ball. Ozil is too long in the tooth to change his game now, and I don’t think physically he is capable of doing what Arteta wants him to do, either. It might be another year before he leaves the club, but I can’t see much of a future there for him