Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs has hailed manager Arsene Wenger's ability to unearth young talent, as the under-fire Frenchman faces calls to leave his post.
The Emirates Stadium outfit suffered a humiliating exit from the League Cup on Tuesday night after being beaten by fourth-tier outfit Bradford City, losing on penalties having needed a late Thomas Vermaelen leveller to force extra time.
The defeat, coupled with that fact that Arsenal are once again lagging in the Premier League and struggling to compete with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, has left success-starved supporters calling for a first change in the manager's hot seat in 16 years.
Despite title triumphs in 1998, 2002 and 2004 and FA Cup victories in 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005, the Gunners have failed to lift any silverware since beating Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium. And although the Emirates Stadium outfit consistently reach the knockout stages of the lucrative Champions League, finishing in fourth place alone is no longer enough for many frustrated fans.
But Gibbs, one of a plethora of young players to have been given a chance to shine in the top flight by the 63-year-old tactician, believes the Frenchman's eye for talent and ability to turn them into star performers still sets him apart from his peers.
Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, Gibbs said: "He has built a reputation for signing players for a modest fee and turning them into great players.
"I don't think many people in England had really heard of Thomas Vermaelen before he arrived and yet he became an instant fan favourite at the club. He has an eye for noticing the potential in promising players."
The departure of long-serving assistant manager Pat Rice at the end of last season saw former Gunners defender Steve Bould promoted from his role as head of youth at the club to Wenger's new right hand man.
The introduction of the 50-year-old, who made more than 300 appearances for the club and won three league titles, appeared to have worked wonders on what had previous been a susceptible defence, with Arsenal conceding just two goals in their opening five Premier League games, including three clean sheets.
And Gibbs revealed that, although the Gunners are not necessarily defending in a different way, they have made subtle tweaks that have comes as a result of Bould's attention to detail.
"I wouldn’t say [we're doing anything] differently. He has his own view of the game and he goes through a lot of detail after matches.
"He makes sure everyone understands their unique roles and we’ve worked on a number of things, including how to face attackers and moving up the pitch as a unit."
This is exclusive extra material but the January 2013 issue of FourFourTwo goes behind the scenes at Arsenal, speaking to the men that matter as they reveal their master plan for success at home and abroad, including Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis, Thomas Vermaelen, Santi Cazorla, Kieran Gibbs, Ken Friar, OBE and Liam Brady. Former Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder Juan Veron also answers your questions, while we reveal our annual Top 100 Players in the World list and meet Grimsby Town's managerial double-act. Subscribe! or download it digitally
BEHIND THE SCENES FourFourTwo spends a month with Arsene, Ivan & Co.
Interview: Ben Welch, November 2012comments