Tag Archives: Swede

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.

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