Tag Archives: Freddie Ljungberg

Freddie Ljungberg – Heir Apparent?

As reported by the brilliant Jeorge Bird over on his Arsenal Youth blog Freddie Ljungberg has been coaching senior training sessions alongside Unai Emery in the international break.

Over the years, there has been plenty of moaning and bitching that Arsenal do not have enough former players still around the club as coaches. There was a time it felt like some fans wanted Arsene Wenger’s coaching staff to contain about 30 ex-players.

The rise of Freddie Ljungberg highlights just what an ex-player can achieve if they have the desire, motivation and ability to become a top coach.

Ljungberg rejoined Arsenal in an ambassadorial role in 2013. 3 years later it was confirmed that he would be joining Arsenal’s Academy coaching Arsenal’s Under-15s.

He was starting in a lowly position overseeing the U15s. He did not expect to walk straight in as a first team coach, or overseeing the U21s. He did not complain, he did not have an enflated ego, he just got on with things.

After the appointment of Andries Jonker as the new manager for VfL Wolfsburg in early 2017, it was announced that Ljungberg would be leaving The Arsenal to join him as his assistant.

After  the departure of coaches in May 2018 following the departure of Arsene it was announced that Ljungberg would return as the U23 coach. Overseeing the side in the Premier League 2 development league.

Under Ljungberg, the U23’s – actually made up of mainly U19’s – have been in impressive form. Currently on a 6 game unbeaten run. They sit 2nd in the league.

Ljungberg has worked his way up from the bottom and is potentially putting himself in prime position to succeed Unai Emery.

Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry are the 3 most high profile former players that many fans said should still be at the club. All 3 had the opportunity to do what Ljungberg did, but all chose a different path.

Upon retirement, Vieira took up an extremely well paid job as Manchester City’s Football Development Executive. It was basically a job with no real role. He was basically a glorified club ambassador for which he was paid handsomely for – much more than he would get as a junior coach at Arsenal.

In simple terms, Vieira still had a year left on his contract when he retired, and Man City honoured that last year by giving him the highly paid meaningless job. It was only a couple of years later he went down the coaching route.

Arsenal never really offered him work at the club. He was playing for Manchester City when he retired, and took up his new role with the club the day he called it quits. He stayed at City, rather than seek employment elsewhere, for the money.

Then we have Thierry Henry.

He was offered the U18 managers job, but only wanted to do it part time so that it did not interfere with his Sky punditry work.

You can not really be a part-time manager at youth level.

The U18’s tend to play at weekends. Was Henry really proposing that he would coach players during the week, and then on game-day would be sitting in the Sky studio watching Stoke v Burnley instead of being on the touchline?

It was never going to work.

Tony Adams was always an odd one. He has been offered numerous coaching roles at Arsenal but has always turned them down. My feeling is he looks down at the junior roles. He wants a senior role, with the first team, or nothing.

The problem is his coaching career to date has shown him to be an average coach at best. Is he really good enough to expect to just walk straight into a senior role? Why does he think coaching the U18’s (a job he turned down) was below him?

Vieira, Henry and Adams all had their own reasons not to be working at Arsenal. If they wanted to, they could have all been part of the coaching set up, but it was their decision to not take a job.

Arsenal should not bow down to their demands, whether it is financially, job roles of flexi-time, just because they are legends.

Ljungberg is doing things the right way. Taking small steps up the ladder. He certainly has a bright future ahead.

Keenos

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Arsenal lose 3rd young Englishman abroad

For years a criticism of English players has been that they do not test themselves abroad. It is one reason why the English national team has struggled over the years. No one go’s abroad and learns a different culture of how to play the game.

In recent years, we have seen very few players move to Italy, France, Spain or Germany.

Micah Richards and Ashley Cole both had stays in Italy. One rebuilding his career, one coming to the end. Whilst Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were star names in the MLS. Jermaine Defoe also went to the American retirement, but soon realised there wss plenty left in his tank and returned to the Premier League.

It is around about a decade since Real Madrid took David Beckham, Steve McManaman and Michael Owen to La Liga. Since then, not so much of substance.

I will always remember the France 1998 World Cup winning side, and how the majority of their key players played outside the French league. Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly were all in Serie A during its glory years, Bixente Lizarazu played for Bayern Munich, Patrick Vieira for Arsenal, Christian Karembeu for Real Madrid. The lessons they all absorbed and brought back to Les Bleus’ party were regarded as vital.

So it is interesting to see 3 young Arsenal players leave for the continent this summer. Not on loan deals like 156 Chelsea players, but on permanent deals.

Highly rated youngster Chris Willock decided against signing a new deal at Arsenal this summer, and instead took his speed and trickery to Portuguese champions Benfica on a five-year deal.

At just 19, it could be a brilliant move for him. The Portuguese league promotes attacking, free flowing football. A player like Willock will thrive in the league. He will have a chance to show his skills at a high level, rather than sit in Arsenal’s reserves, or be booted around in the Championship.

Kaylen Hinds was the second Arsenal player out the door.

The Islington local, also just 18, joined German outfit VfL Wolfsburg on a three-year deal for reportedly ~£2,000,000.

Wolfsburg’s manager is former Academy Manager Andries Jonker, who is ably assisting by Freddie Ljungberg. They both must have seen something in Hinds whilst at Arsenal to make the youngster one of their first signings.

The final, and most recent, Arsenal youngster to make the move abroad is Dan Crowley.

When Crowley joined Arsenal at 16, he was labelled the next Jack Wilshere. Crowley to Wilshere is what Fran Merida was to Cesc Fabregas.

Crowley was loaned out 3 times whilst at Arsenal, the last being to Dutch side Go Ahead Eagles.

He must have impressed in his 6 month spell because it has secured him a 3 year contract with Willem II.

It takes a lot, as a teenager, to uproot yourself from your home country and work elsewhere. Especially in something as pressurised and cut throat at football. Some will say they get paid enough so the money should compensate but it does not compensate for the mental strain that any human being might face.

Too all 3, we wish you well and hope that by moving abroad, you open the door for more young Englishmen to make the move. And in turn the England National team improves as move players join up with the squad having learnt the game in a different country.

Good luck to all 3.

Keenos

How do The Invincibles and Class of 2017 compare?

Yesterday Arsene Wenger cam out and claimed his current crop of forwards was the best options he has had in his 2 decades at the club, surpassing the invicibles:

“Certainly numbers-wise and quality-wise together [they are the best],” Wenger said ahead of today’s clash with struggling Watford.

“We had never so many players who could perform and score goals – certainly never.

“Dennis and Thierry had the quality but we did not have a large number. We had Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires as well so it was not bad.”

Many have used this of further proof that Arsene Wenger is a deluded old man who has gone senile. It is further quotes to prove that he now looks at the current set up through rose tinted glasses.

Arsenal’s current forward options are: Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil & Lucas Perez. How can these compare to Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Kanu and Sylvain Wiltord. The invincibles.

Well the statistics do make for interesting reading:

Invincibles v Class of 2017

goals-in-order

So the Invincibles scored a goal every 2.96 games. Whilst the Class of 2017 are a goal every 3.01 games. Almost nothing in it. We are talking about a 5 minute difference. But of course, it disproves Arsene Wenger’s point. The Invincibles were superior goal scorers, but only just. And probably not by as much as people think.

For me there are main differences between the two groups of players is top end quality. The Invincibles had Thierry Henry.

Henry is by far and away the most clinical player out of the 12 players and the primary reason that the Invincibles scored more than the Class of 2017.

A minor reason is Dennis Bergkamp against Mesut Ozil. Bergkamp was much more of a striker than Mesut Ozil. Scored more goals.

Henry better than Giroud, Bergkamp better than Ozil. When you combine all 12 players into a single long list, it makes equally as interesting reading.

Long List

long-list

This list further proves that Henry was superior to every other player. Our greatest goal scorer of all time. But the next two on the list are interesting. Both from the Class of 2017. This shows that whilst the Invincibles were heavily reliant on goals from Henry, the Class of 2017 has two goal scoring options.

Lucas Perez has to kind of be disregarded as he has played so few games to make a true judgement.

You then have the next 5. Pires, Bergkamp, Wiltord, Welbeck & Walcott. Very similar games to goal ratio.

So the Invincibles had the best goal scorer, but the Class of 2017 had the better options.

Player v Player

side-by-sideA last comparison is just seeing players per their position.

Again, this highlights the importance of Henry and Bergkamp. Henry is vastly superior to Giroud. Bergkamp better than Ozil. This is not exactly ground breaking news.

On the left hand side, Sanchez out scores Pires, which again is not exactly surprising. Sanchez is better than Pires.

The right hand side of the midfield might surprise you. Walcott is more dangerous than Ljungberg.

Wiltord and Welbeck are both hardworking strikers who also cover the wide positions. Wiltord had played a lot more than Welbeck, but their record is identical.

Lastly we have Perez v Kanu. Not similar in style, but they are the lost ones left. Kanu on his day was a game changer, but was extremely inconsistent. A scorer of great goals, rather than a great goal scorer.

 

I think it is wrong to compare the Invincibles to the Class of 2017. The Invincibles won league titles, and went unbeaten. Add in a lot of FA Cups. Whilst the current crop have just those 2 FA Cups to show for their efforts. But the comparison does make interesting reading, and the difference is not as much as you would think.

The difference is Bergkamp and Henry.

Keenos

Note: I know I spelt Wiltord’s name wrong in the pretty pictures