Wenger expects Rice to stay on
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident Pat Rice will continue as his number two next season, but maintains he is also on the lookout for a new voice in the backroom staff at the Emirates Stadium.
Rice, 62, will see his current deal expire in the summer, and has yet to confirm future plans. Wenger, though, revealed the former Northern Ireland international - who played more than 500 games for the Gunners and had a spell as caretaker manager in 1996 before the Frenchman's arrival - had suggested he was ready to stay on.
"I think Pat Rice will continue for one more year. He has told me," the Wenger said. "It is important for me because he knows how I work. We have a good understanding. I am happy that he goes on for one more year.
"The day he stops will be a massive loss for the club. We will see, after one more year maybe he will say one more year again. We will have to prepare."
Academy coach Steve Bould and Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp, currently working for Ajax, have been touted as possible new additions to Wenger's backroom team, along with former Colchester, Hull and Charlton manager Phil Parkinson, who has been doing some scouting for the club.
Wenger admits a new voice in the dugout would not go amiss. "Yes, we always need that and I am thinking about it as well."
Arsenal can take a significant step towards securing third place in the Premier League ahead of FA Cup finalists Manchester City by signing off their home campaign with a victory over out-of-form Aston Villa tomorrow. For Wenger, though, not to be still fighting for the championship remains a difficult pill to swallow.
"When you do not win, people always think you do not want it enough, but believe me, these people want it desperately," Wenger said. "We were under pressure and we suffered under pressure. We have learned, by experience, that it is important to be calm and master your nerves.
"I went for the Carling Cup thinking that winning it would ease the pressure on the players and then we will play more relaxed. It worked completely against us and from then on it became more difficult. Next year you can do the same and win the Carling Cup in the last minute - we have to accept that is the beauty of the game and also the cruelty of the game."