Tag Archives: overmars

Arsene Wenger’s Highest High and Lowest Low

How do you judge the highest highs and the lowest lows? The peaks that made you giddy? the troughs that had you on the ropes?

Arsene Wenger’s 22 year spell as Arsenal manager has finally ended the rollercoaster ride that has in recent years, kept journalists in a job and fans heading for the exits.

His tenure can be split into sections, with the first decade being the reason why expectations are so very high now, dragging the club firstly into contention, and then ensuring its survival at the forefront of a sport that was transforming rapidly.

Then came what most know as the stadium years, when The Emirates required funding and the fallout from this was the transfer budget had to be created, rather than given. Perhaps his greatest feat was keeping Arsenal in the Champions League during those lean years, when other clubs were burning money to keep warm.

And then came the years of doubt, where Arsenal were supposed to herald in a bright new dawn, free from the albatross of uber-debt around our neck, we could now compete with the big boys, but instead, we slipped further down the ladder as Wenger’s shortcomings in tactics and his recalcitrant approach to these failings meant that not only was a first title since 2004 well out of reach – we also let in clubs that were previously playing perma-catch-up.

If we look at Wenger’s highs and lows on a game by game basis, naturally we’ll look to his first ten years for the best moments, and his last decade will be littered with references to instances when we feared the worst.

But there are matches in every season that could be nominated for either.

Our 8-2 and 6-1 stuffings at the hands of Man Utd are obvious picks when highlighting nightmares. What of our 6-0 hammering by Chelsea though? Or when Liverpool pasted us 5-1? We’ve also racked up a few derby defeats as well, after going so long without one. Let’s not forget our European nightmares too (we don’t talk about Paris).

In terms of high points, our 1-0 win at Old Trafford to win the league in 2002 was golden-hued, and I’ll never forget our recent FA Cup wins. We thumped Inter Milan at the San Siro, we were the first English club to beat Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, and winning the league at the pisshole down the road ranks pretty highly too.

So many of either to mention, but if I had to pick just one of either…

Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal – 14 March 1998

This match broke United’s previously unbowed spirit. We had the perfect gameplan, we had the back 5 as the perfect foundation, Vieira and Petit were patrolling midfield and in Marc Overmars, we had a weapon that was unanswerable. The flying Dutchman chased a flick on and headed the bouncing ball into his own path, before finishing low past Schmeichel. It was a signal, to both Fergie and our own fans, that we were a real force. It was unforgettable, and it was the beginning of the best years as a Gooner for quite some time – if ever.

Arsenal 2-3 Leeds Utd – 4 May 2003

We’d won the double the season before, and humiliated United in the process by winning it at Old Trafford. The next season had been given the perfect platform, and we made it count for the most part, but our slip against an underwhelming Leeds side managed by Peter Reid. Mark Viduka had one of his games where he was unplayable, and we shot ourselves in the foot. It handed the title back to United, meaning we failed to regain the Premiership yet again. This was a title we should have won, but defeats like this hampered us. Thinking about it even now gives off waves of ‘what should’ve been,’ and of massive missed opportunities.

These are just my own choices. Mentioned before, there’s plenty of both to choose from. Our 3-2 defeat to a weak Man United side and subsequent loss to Swansea City in 2015 ran the Leeds loss unbelievably close.

What are your personal high and low matches in Wenger’s reign? Drop me a comment, it should make for interesting conversation!

Overmars as Director of Football? Not a Chance..

In the absence of ‘proper’ football during the most recent international break, it seemed as if common sense also left the room along with our sanity.

Watching international football in comparison to our beloved Premier League is prone to leave even the most grounded reaching for the straightjacket, but the latest rumour has no ties to veracity.

We all read it, and the stories surrounding Marc Overmars leaving Ajax to become Arsenal’s Director of Football are quite laughable under the current circumstances.

Consider the facts.

Since David Dein left, Arsene Wenger has had full control of the good ship Arsenal. Dein was viewed as the contrary voice of reason whenever Wenger was in the throes of an outlandish decision. This is not to say Wenger regularly had hair-brained schemes. No, this is merely to say Wenger had a yin to his yang.

Everybody needs one, but now our manager has had his hand on all the controls for quite some time, and if stories from behind the veil are to be believed, Wenger will not tolerate opinion from elsewhere.

Wenger is absolute.

So, all of a sudden he is open to bringing in someone who will bring not only another view, but one that he will have to take on board?

Marc Overmars started off his post-playing career at boyhood club Go Ahead Eagles on a voluntary basis. Firstly as a shareholder and then later joining the Supervisory Board, The former winger then joined Ajax part time as a Youth Coach. Getting a solid grounding behind the scenes gives Overmars another view, and since 2012, he has been Technical Director at Ajax as part of a team of former Ajax luminaries at the club.

Overmars being a former Gunner helps a lot, but it matters very little as this story will not come to fruition as long as Wenger is at the club.

The only way this may hold any truth is if Wenger has already decided to leave after his final season which is in 2019. Overmars coming in at the start of this campaign allows a smoother handing over of power, with the respective new guy having help in acclimating to The Arsenal Way.

Other than this one version of events, Overmars joining in on the decision making is about as likely as Toni Colbert embracing new methods of fitness.

A Director of Football is usually the death knell of any managerial setup. Aside from Txiki Begiristain at Manchester City which still has the jury out, another person muscling in on the manager is not a conventional recipe for success.

That isn’t to say it wouldn’t work though.

Wenger desperately needs another to sound his thoughts out to. Seeing as Steve Bould has lost all semblance of the voice he had as a player, Arsene has no-one but his own mind to see both sides of a potentially problematic equation.

Overmars coming in and offering a fresher approach mixed with Wenger’s way with his players could well be the ingredient we need to finally unleash what our squad is capable of doing.

Could it be pulled off? Certainly.

Will it happen? Almost certainly not.

If Wenger is set to call time on his Arsenal legacy at the end of his current deal, a Director of Football would be a great solution to bridging the gap between bosses.

A returning Gunner is a nice touch too. If by all accounts this does come true, the fact they know the club is a big advantage.

So, to surmise, don’t believe everything you read. 

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.