After such an unparalleled achievement as ‘The Invincible Season,’ the raft of documentaries, reading material and general content surrounding the exploits of the unbeaten Arsenal team of 2003/04, it means we have been treated to all angles of the gold-trophy winning campaign.
The majority of the men who made it possible have given their views and anecdotes on what occurred during that halcyon time, and watching them all speak about their teammates and the incidents which transpired on the pitch is still fascinating.
What gives these teams who achieve the impossible, an edge over their opponents? Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry et al have given their musings on the special blend of ingredients in the squad, and there was one common strand which was highlighted by many of these heroes.
It was the fiery, bubbling rapport which often erupted in vigorous, no-holds-barred training sessions. Every player gave their all and never held back, such was the winning mentality running deep within them all.
There was one man though, that perhaps was the embodiment of this competitive habit.
Jens Lehmann was talked about with a wry smile by many of the players as one who would never back down, and often being the spark which would ignite some heated moments.
Ray Parlour mentioned Lehmann’s disgust for any who attempted to lob him, and the many times in which players would attempt to do the very thing which would manifest Jen’s rage. It was Lehmann’s pride and his search for excellence which would not allow any such slights against his name.
The German – aptly nicknamed ‘Mad’ by fans – already had a reputation for his exploits with opponents on the pitch, but these soundbites from his fellow Invincibles showed that no matter if it was a crunch game against Manchester United or 5 vs 5 on the pitches at London Colney – he would take every goal personally.
So, the news that Mad Jens is back at Arsenal in a First Team Coach capacity is something we should all be pleased with.
There have been many quarters who have talked of Arsene Wenger’s iron grip behind the scenes, and his need for absolute sway when decisions are made. With Lehmann being given such a prominent role in Wenger’s team, this could well mean that Wenger will have far more discussions about tactics and such than he has ever had before.
Not only this, but with Wenger personally inviting him into the fold, does this mean that the Frenchman is finally acknowledging the need for a shakeup at ground level?
Lehmann on the training pitch will be exactly the same as Lehmann with his gloves on. He will not allow any quarter to be given by the players, nor will he expect anything other than the squad seeking to improve, rather than plateau.
The German is an excellent addition, and any former heroes should have an open invite to work with the club. Respect is earned, and the players will be aware of Lehmann’s achievements. This commands each and every man to listen that little bit more, to really soak in Lehmann’s advice. With Wenger recruiting Lehmann, it gives each training session that little bit more gravitas.
Not that any man should be taking any session lightly. If any of them were skating by, then that is surely a thing of the past.
Who would want to cross Mad Jens Lehmann?