This morning Arsenal announced the appointment of Andries Jonker as Academy manager. He is a name that is fairly unknown in football, and any blogger who pretends to know anything about him is clearly making it up. On his appointment, my first comments were:
“I know nothing about him, but it is an interesting move and clearly highlights the globalisation of our academy as we have gone for a multilingual, well travelled appointment.”
Further exploration (ie Wikipedia) shows that he is an appointment that we could potentially be getting excited over, even if we all know nothing about him.
What will jump out to most people is his time at Barcelona, arguably the best academy in football over the last 10 years. This should be ignored. His tenure at Barcelona was short. One trophyless season alongside Louis Van Gaal.
Much in the same way, his tenure at Bayern Munich (firstly as assistant to Van Gaal, then as caretaker manager, finally taking a role as their reserve team manager in 2011) should be written off as well. The Bayern youth project was well under way at this point, and being an assistant manager is very different to be manager of a youth academy.
Where we are to get excited is his work for the Dutch FA. He spent 2 spells working for them – 1990-97 & 2000-03. Using Wikipedia (and other research) it is not completely clear, however, according to our site, his time in Holland was spent
“Developing and implementing youth coaching reforms for the KNVB (Dutch FA), in Haarlem and Amsterdam, and two seasons working as a senior coach in the youth setup of the Dutch Federation.”
Reportedly, our academy is in a state of disrepair. As revealed on shewore.com, the academy nearly lost its status with Liam Brady taking a lot of criticism by the FA for his running of it. We have bought in someone who, reading between the lines, reformed and re-organised the Dutch youth system. He is clearly experienced to do the job at Arsenal.
What is also exciting is the period’s of which he worked for the Dutch FA. In the last 20 years, the Dutch have had 2 strong teams. The side in 2000 should have won the European Championship, and the 2008 generation made the World Cup Final.
When you look at that 2000 squad and the names in it, the majority of the players (Stam, Davids, Seedorf, Overmars, van Bronckhorst, Zenden, etc) came to prominence in the early 90s, coinciding with Jonker’s tenure with Holland. Whilst this also coincides with a period in time of a brilliant Ajax academy, you have to think Jonker must have some credit for this – especially as his remit seems to be that of the Amsterdam region.
The second team was that of 2008. It contained the last generation of truly great Dutch players (Van Persie, Huntelaar, Van Der Vaart, Sniejder, Robben, Babel) all at some point or another being part of the Dutch youth set up between 2000-03.
What can not be a coincidence is that the last 2 great Dutch teams have been on his watch, and since he left his post with the KNVB, the Netherlands have failed to produce a truly top class footballer.
Finally, Andries Jonker has worked closely with Louis van Gaal throughout his career. A man who Dennis Bergkamp holds highly. Whilst Jonker might not have been mentioned in Bergkamp’s autobiography, what is for certain is that he will have the same values and methods of van Gaal, who Bergkamp compares a lot to Arsene Wenger.
Is Jonker a good appointment? Who knows. But his CV and experience seems to suit Arsenal’s needs at the moment.
And a Dutchman on the coaching staff could be the first step in employing another Dutchman who used to play for us in the 90s (not Glen Helder…)