Tag Archives: Ljungberg

Emery Sacked! Why Now And What Now?

The club could endure no more it seems.

After another defeat and the seventh consecutive failure to win a game, it seems that the loss to Eintracht Frankfurt was the last straw for the now departed Arsenal Head Coach, Unai Emery.

His tenure ended in strangely eerie circumstances. Ticket restrictions for home fans and a ban on away fans gave The Emirates a suitably soulless atmosphere, for what was yet another abject performance.

A failure to inhibit our opposition whether home or away, constant erroneous performances and our inability to recreate even a portion of the style we are branded for, accumulated on Emery’s shoulders and with every dropped point, his knees buckled further.

The club were rumoured to want to give Emery until the end of the season, but it became abundantly clear to all that Emery would have been incapable of turning around our season, so Raul Sanllehi, Edu Gaspar and Vinai Venkatesham were left with a dilemma.

Either sever ties with Unai and bring in Freddie Ljungberg on an interim basis, or stay with Unai and see how bad things could get.

Luckily, they saw sense and Emery is now a former employee of Arsenal, just 18 months after signing for the Gunners.

It seems to have been a rapidly made decision, as players were unaware that the decision had been made this morning – and so was Emery who headed training this morning as usual. The squad were called for a meeting after training to announce the decision, and the only way is up in terms of results.

Image result for emery sacked

Arsenal and Freddie now face the task of resurrecting our season, but the first step for the Super Swede will be to find our character that has made us a global brand. Coming from possibly the best team we have ever had, it should hopefully come naturally to bring back the good football that the Gunners are accustomed to.

 

 

So Emery is no more.

 

Who next for Arsenal?

Spotlight on Youth Progress

Freddie Ljungberg’s move to Assistant Manager from his previous role as Under-23’s boss heralds a shift in focus for our club.

The statement that accompanied the Swede’s move to Unai Emery’s bench chose to underline this, mentioning that Ljungberg’s intimate knowledge of our youth system and the products that have rolled off the conveyor belt recently was the reason that Freddie has taken Steve Bould’s role – with Bould going in the opposite direction.

It is this hands-on, daily intel that Ljjungberg possesses, that gives him the best position to determine who can move up from the Academy and bolster our squad.

With our self-sustainability model in full effect, the dream situation for our club hierarchy and our bank balance, would be finding the answers to bolstering our squad within our current ranks – unearthing the latest rough diamond and polishing it in front of our very eyes in the stands.

Freddie is meant to be the conduit between the kids trying to make that step up, to the ear of Unai Emery, who knows that his budget will leave him hindered in his attempt to reclaw our Champions League prospects back, after last season saw us confirm we will miss out for a third consecutive season.

With Champions League omission comes a shrunken budget, so Ljungberg moving up to provide Emery with another eye, perhaps the most important eye amongst our coaching personnel, means that Emery can have a true gauge on whether our prospects can supply the fillip that our first team and squad we so desperately require.

Freddie-Ljungberg-4

Jo Willock and Eddie Nketiah spring immediately to mind in regards to who will make the step up, but there are others who will be in with a shout.

Bukayo Saka and Tyreece John-Jules are others who are in with a shot, and Emile Smith-Rowe, along with Reiss Nelson, are champing at the bit to get the nod.

Much like last season, Emery’s first, we can tell a lot from Emery’s team selection for the supposed ‘friendly games.’ He rotated heavily, and with a hectic warm-up schedule, thanks in part to sponsorship deals, games were thick and fast. That meant plenty of chances for the kids to impress, but what will also help these kids show that Freddie’s testimonials were all true – is squad strength.

There has been talk of Arsenal going in for Keiran Tierney in a bid to boost our defensive strength, and it is obvious that our backline is in dire need of reinforcements.

So, with Freddie swooping in and having Emery’s ear in regards to what kid can help out in our hour of need, or who has what it takes, our kids could well be the salve that eases the burn on our backline.

Freddie is meant to help the transition between the youth and first team sides, and with our defence on its knees last season, Ljungberg will be instrumental in ensuring the likes of Calum Chambers, Zach Medley and Jordi Osei-Tutu, currently on loan, make the big leap from boy to man in terms of football.

Whether the Swede truly has enough sway to ensure Emery listens to him regarding our players is another matter intirely, but it is irrefuteable that our club would enjoy a ‘signing’ that came straight from our youth team.

We can only wait and see if Ljungberg is starting to have an effect on proceedings. With the precociousness’ of youth also means we should remember that they will have to be given a little flex in order to weed out the mistakes their game demands they make in order to learn vital lessons.

Without patience, then those opportunities that Ljungberg will fight so hard for might as well not happen. We need to keep that in mind when these kids light up the pitch.

Fan Favourite Freddie

Professional footballers have become even harder to reach.

The pedestal they stand upon has reached a heady height, craning your neck up to see this sporting icon and suffering dizzying vertigo as a result.

Social media, a tool that should shorten the gap between ground level and the clouds upon which they sit, instead drags them further away from your lowly position. A constant stream of images from far flung places gives you the initial experience of being ensconced in their world – but it is a different plane, sitting parallel to yours.

It of course used to be different, but the last two decades has seen an exponential rise in a footballer’s stock. Image is everything, but it isn’t as if we never had players who were iconic.

The hair, the clothes, the whole package screaming of the super-cool. From Charlie George in the 70s, Champagne Charlie in the 80s, Wrighty in the 90s – they were always the most popular amongst fan picks.

My personal favourite?

Freddie Ljungberg.

The super Swede immortalised himself with his red hair, bringing the fans adoration close simply with the right choice of hair colour (Danny Rose tried and failed).

He was a good looking fellow, no dispute, but it was his hair that made him an icon, coupled with one other asset.

His knack of scoring goals – important goals.

Was there another of his era who was better at ghosting into the box? His timing was perfection, his finishing unerring, his hair bright red.

Freddie with PL trophy

Goals flowed, and his debut against Man United in 1999 saw a lobbed finish over Peter Schmeichel that lives long in the memory.

I tried to recreate his hairstyle, only succeeding in making my hair pink and waiting days for it to wash out. It was my attempt to pay homage to a player who had become my idol. There was no social media then that allowed a window into their life. I simply had to read up on whatever titbit of info was available.

My hair travesty aside – I am now bald like the man himself and this style is much easier to manage – Ljungberg earned his way into our hearts because he gave his all on the pitch, and his goals were a huge reason why we won the title in 2002. His run of goals in the business end of the season kept us afloat. Bergkamp could find his incessant runs easily, and when in the box, Freddie always found a way.

He is often overlooked in terms of his importance to that great era, but the right side of midfield was always an option for whomever was on the ball, and he dutifully did his defensive duties effectively.

In short, Freddie had no discernible weakness, aside from his infernal wisdom teeth, which put him out of action for many games on separate occasions. Has there been a player who has possessed his particular set of skills since? Perhaps Rambo, but has the Welshman done it with such panache?

Did he do it with red hair?

Freddie will always hold a special spot in my memory, because he was the first player who I wanted to be. He was the first player I put on the pedestal and aimed to be like – and I got a neck ache in the process.

Freddie is now managing our kids, and we get to see him often. His red hair might be gone, and the barrier between player and fan is still high. Even sans-rouge locks, Freddie oozes cool, and I know that should the barrier come down and I get a chance to meet him?

I’d still be a mess meeting my hero.

Arsenal Legends Vs Real Madrid Legends Match

Last year, amidst the apathy that surrounded our team and their lackadaisical efforts on the pitch – FA Cup aside that is – the club did do something that was truly special.

We assembled our legends – from different generations – to take on an AC Milan Glorie side that contained some of the biggest names of seasons past. Now, we’re doing it again, as we call up our luminaries to take on the best of Real Madrid’s recent past.

Legends from the Spanish and English game, putting on a footballing spectacle at The Emirates.

It’s enough to start salivating over, and the details that are spilling out from both clubs surrounding this festival of football and fandom spread out over 90 minutes only serves as a teasing appetiser.

We first take on Real Madrid’s outfit of legends at the Santiago Bernabeu in June, with a second match due to take place at The Emirates on Saturday 8 September. The matches were announced in Madrid and Robert Pires, one of our finest, was in Spain’s capital to help herald the news.

What really makes this exciting news is last years installment of Legends goodness. We took on AC Milan Glorie, and some of our most beloved former players were on show, as well as some glittering players from Milan’s yesteryear.

It was a smorgasbord of fan-heaven, and names that are forever etched in football;s annals took to our home ground’s pitch to strut their stuff. The match didn’t disappoint, and we were privy to a Nwankwo Kanu hat-trick, but the cherry on the Arsenal cake was our last goal, scored by our very own Bobbi, ably assisted by Freddie Ljungberg – we love you, because you’ve got no hair…

So, if that unforgettable game is anything to go by, this delicious prospect of a match against Real’s finest from the past is one to keep tabs on – but who can we expect to see take to the pitch and entertain us once again?

Bobbi Pires is one name that is sure to get us Gooners interested, and there are a few other of his fellow Invincible’s expected to take part. Freddie Ljungberg, Sol Campbell, Lauren, Gilberto Silva and Ray Parlour are all set to wear the famous jersey once again.

We also had David Seaman in goal at the ripe age of 52, Emmanuel Petit in midfield as well as cameos from Super Swede Anders Limpar, some parts of the best defence our shores have ever seen with the appearance of Nigel Winterburn – who also recreated the famous Paolo Di Canio ref push with the man himself – and AC Milan had Marcel Desailly, Alesandro Costacurta and Cafu to rely on. Our players won the game 4-2, and enthralled us all in the process.

They’ll need every bit of their famous talents in order to gain a favourable result against Real’s pool of icons.

There have been a few names mentioned that will be wearing the white of Madrid. Raul Gonzalez, Xabi Alonso and Roberto Carlos are just three names that will line up against our men in red and white – and there’s better news than that.

Both games are being played to gather funds for each clubs’ respective Foundations, with the first game going to Real Madrid’s charity efforts, and the second game at our home ground will go to the Arsenal Foundation. Last years game vs AC Milan Glorie raised over £1m, so there are high hopes for this upcoming tussle.

Tickets for Platinum and Gold Members go on sale from 3 April. Silver and Junior Gunners can purchase tickets from 16 April and Red Members from 18 April.

I don’t normally disclose ticket details, but this is for a great cause, and above all else – missing out on one last chance to see our heroes take to the pitch is something that we should all really endeavour to see.

Jonker and Ljungberg Leave Arsenal

Posted on Goonersphere.

Arsenal Academy Coach Andries Jonker has left the club recently, to take up the reins at VFL Wolfsburg and rescue them from the ignominy of Bundesliga relegation.

Jonker took the Academy role in 2014, replacing club legend Liam Brady. The Academy itself was not in the rudest of health, with a severe lack of honours competing against their domestic counterparts and also a drought in regards to these starlets making the jump into the first team squad.

Both parameters are the only true gauge to discern whether the Academy Chief is performing to the level necessary or not. In these regards, Jonker did not fail, but neither did he succeed. He plateaued, carrying on where Brady left off, but despite the constant stream of promise, there has been precious little sign of a breakthrough.

There have been shoots of growth though, where before there was none. Alex Iwobi is one who could be claimed as a success for Jonker, although with Brady leaving in 2014, ‘Chippy’ could lay claim to this treasure just as much as Jonker has. There is also Chris Willock and Ainslie Maitland-Niles who have made their presence felt on first-team matters, so Jonker was at least getting the Academy stepping in the right direction.

Then there is the issue of a club legend leaving the club. Another one.

Freddie Ljungberg was tasked with overlooking the Under-15 team alongside his Ambassadorial role for the club. He only took the job this year, and yet he has also left for Wolfsburg to take the Assistant manager’s job alongside Jonker.

It must have been a very tough option to turn down. Freddie took the Arsenal coaching position to earn his coaching badges and some vital experience, so an Assistant Manager job at a top flight club is the perfect stepping stone for the Swede. For Jonker also, to return to a club he has ties to and to be offered the top job – it was a no-brainer for him.

It is sad to see one of our own depart the club though. One who is steeped in our ways. One who achieved so much for Arsenal, to ply their trade somewhere else does not sit quite right. With Thierry Henry opting to cultivate his TV career alongside his coaching duties, Patrick Vieira in the MLS and Tony Adams in China, there is a wealth of experience that we could tap into and instantly improve our Academy and coaching setup.

New ideas alongside an affinity with the club is a potent mixture that is hard to find, but there is still hope.

With these vacancies, we could well recruit other legends who are working elsewhere and who have already accrued the experience needed to hit the ground running in a new job – especially one at Arsenal.

Marc Overmars and the one and only Dennis Bergkamp are two names who spring to mind.

The flying winger has played a role at his boyhood club Go Ahead Eagles, and he is currently Technical Director at Ajax. This position should not be downplayed, as Ajax’s youth system is one of the best in the world and is responsible for a huge amount of stars from the past, the present and more than likely the future. The pressure, the expectancy would be huge on Overmars’s shoulders. 

Then there is The Iceman. The player who has taken on demi-god status ar Arsenal. With such a level of worship, there is always the risk of sullying a reputation when you return to the site of your glories, but Bergkamp knows football. 

His book, ‘Stillness and Speed’ tells you all you need to know about how seriously he takes the technical aspects of football. It is undeniable that Bergkamp would be a massive asset at Arsenal and if he carries on in his current coaching trajectory, then there is only one place he will end up. We could get him sooner rather than later though.

There are many other names that could be added to the list, but with Andries Jonker gone and Freddie impressing so much that he has gone with Jonker as his Number2 – it means we have an opportunity to pick the best options now.

Thank you to Andries Jonker and we will all miss Freddie at the club. Let us hope they are both a success and that Freddie has a chance to come back home. 

Freddie In For Thierry – Kids To Have Invincible As Coach

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

The recent furore surrounding Thierry Henry’s departure from Arsenal’s coaching setup has divided opinion in the media and for Gooners too.

Considered by many to be Arsenal’s finest player to have graced the Premier League, Henry’s decision to continue with his media work instead of his coaching role with the Gunners youth has seen much vitriol aimed at the man cast in bronze outside of The Emirates.

Conscious of the backlash his choice would cause amongst the fans who adore him, the man that fans know as ‘Le King’ made a statement outlining his reasons why he chose his role at Sky Sports over earning experience at coaching level at London Colney.

Whether people believe he prioritised lucre, or he believed the confliction between his roles would undermine his work in both positions is besides the point. What has been highlighted is that the bunch of promising youngsters that course through the Academy at London Colney would have benefitted hugely from the sage words and experience only a world class player could have given them.

Step forward Freddie Ljungberg.

The beloved red hair may be shorn, but those cheekbones cannot be disguised. The super Swede is rumoured to be the replacement for the departed Frenchman, and his expertise, knowledge – and most importantly enthusiasm for the job  – can boost the kids he will potentially take under his beautiful wing.

With a plethora of former heroes to call upon, it was only fitting that the club bring in someone who has not only bought the t-shirt, but the whole ensemble. 

International experience, battle scars from Europe and so many seasons at the pinnacle of domestic competition put Freddie in pole position to pass down knowledge which benefits a whole generation.

Ljungberg is in the process of earning his coaching badges, which is a path that will lead to professional management. He has started this journey at the club who gave him the perfect platform as a player to make the most of his talents. 

Who can forget his goalscoring run which saw us over the finishing line in 2002? Aided by the golden touch of a certain Iceman, the super Swede’s unerring accuracy was the difference in the home straight of a magnificent Double campaign.

Mostly, it was his cerebral movement which allowed him to ghost into the box at the exact moment. An attacking facet which takes many players years to hone, but Freddie could almost smell the opportunity before it arose.

It is these talents which he can help chisel from the rough diamonds he will be in charge of. 

His winning mentality though, will be chief among reasons why this potential hiring is a masterstroke. 

His trophy haul speaks of a man who will not take anything less than 100%. If he can successfully burn this into every one of his students consciousness, then he could well be readymade for a managerial role.

We love you Freddie, because you’ve got no hair, but also, because you’re a winner. 

Freddie Ljungberg – Swedish, Invincible and Lethal

Hindsight can be a wonderful thing. Memories of fantastic moments take on a golden hue as recollection makes every instant that little more vibrant.

Hindsight can also be a little blinkered.

Continue reading Freddie Ljungberg – Swedish, Invincible and Lethal