Tag Archives: Thierry Henry

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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Who is in line to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

Yesterday we discussed who would replace Arsene Wenger in the short term, were he to leave his role before the end of the season.

The reason this was discussed was mainly down to top targets not being available in the summer. Someone like Joachim Low is busy with preparing to led Germany to the defence of the World Cup they won 4 years ago. He will not chuck that in to become Arsenal manager 4 months early.

The likes of Andres Jonkier, Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti were mentioned as possible short term replacements, if Wenger were to leave this week. So who are the long term replacements?

Carlo Ancelotti – The experienced Italian is immediately available and could come in as a short term option who could be kept on for the long term if the club performs.

He is a Premier League winner with Chelsea and is one of the most highly rated managers in the game.

However, he has only won 4 league titles since 2000, despite having managed AC Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Critics will say he is too similar to Arsene Wenger. That he does not concentrate on tactics to stop the opposition and leaves a lot to the players to make decisions on the field.

He left Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in similar circumstance, and there is talk that his methods are now outdated. Would he just be Wenger Mark II?

Leonardo Jardim – when you have unlimited funds, and manage the likes of Manchester City, PSG or Manchester United, you do not need to be a coach. You do not need to improve players. If someone is not good enough, you merely sign a replacement.

In 2017, Leonardo Jardim led Monaco to the French league title, as well as a Champions League semi-final, with a vibrant young team. Up against PSG in France, he had to bring through and develop talents like Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar and Fabinho.

His team knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League three years ago and he has a contract until 2020. At just 43, he is young and fresh, whilst also have 10 years experience as a manager.

Joachim Low – With a set up that is set to include Germans Sven Mislintat & Per Mertesacker, German national team manager Joachim Low looks a fairly natural fit. Add in Shad Forsyth, who spent 10 years working with the Germany national team, and Low could fit right in.

With Mesut Ozil,  Shkdoran Mustafi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolašinac all having come from the Bundesliga, German could be the new French at Arsenal.

The only question mark over Low is his club management credentials. He has not managed at club level for 14 years and he had 7 jobs in 5 years.

Brendan Rodgers – A lot of fans will mock any opinion that Brendan Rodger should be anywhere near the list of potential Arsene Wenger replacements. But it has to be remember he was one Steven Gerrard slip away from winning the title with Liverpool.

He has since gone to Celtic to rebuild his career.

Whilst any success in Scotland with Celtic is nothing to shout abut, his methods and experience would be suited to Arsenal. The biggest problem is the supporters. His appointment would fail to unify the fan-base following the intense and often angry debate that has surrounded Wenger.

Mikel Arteta – Currently working as an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and, while he has no managerial experience and would represent a gamble, he is well regarded at Arsenal following five years there as a player, including two as club captain, between 2011 and 2016. He is well known to Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal’s new head of football relations, as well as to Gazidis.

Roberto Martinez – I thought Martinez’s name would no longer appear on lists involving “next Arsenal manager” after he was sacked by Everton, but he needs to be added back on. Not because of himself, but because of who he might bring in as an assistant.

Currently managing the Belgium national team, Martinez was joined in the set up by Arsenal Club record-scorer Thierry Henry, who saw working with Martinez as an opportunity to gain experience.

Henry returning would unite the fans. The only issue is having said that being managing Arsenal  would be a potential “dream” job , would he really give up that comfortable, warm, 2 days a week job with SkySports, for a similar paid job as Martinez’s assistant at Arsenal?

No Henry, no Martinez.

Keenos

Saturation of Statues Spoil the Significance

Arsenal have recently been running a poll about what 1970’s legend’s name should be engraved on a bench that will go outside the stadium.

This led to a reopening of a debate as to who should be next when it comes to statues outside the ground.

As you are probably aware, currently there are 4 statues around the ground. Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. Following the bench naming, there has been a lot of talk about who should be next. GC had his opinion:

This led to an afternoon long debate in a WhatsApp group as to who should be next. GC was adamant that it should be Rocky and Wrighty. A few disagreed, a few put forward other suggestions.

Now with being too disrespectful, I questions why Rocky should have a statue. Why not Paul Merson or Ray Parlour? Two players who were at Arsenal longer, won and contributed more.

Why not Robert Pires? He might not have been home grown but he actually ended up playing more games than Rocky.

GC was adamant, Rocky should be next. And this where the issue now arises.

Everyone has their own legends. Icons. Greats.

Now if you look into it, the majority of these will be from their adolescence. When they were a late teen or early 20s. When they were growing up and have an idol, a role model, was a thing. When they were going week in, week out, before they had other priorities like families.

Ask someone what music they love, I bet they usually say it was the music of their youth. That current bands were not the same. They were inferior. Nothing will beat The Who, Weller, Oasis or Arctic Monkeys, depending on what era you are from.

Football is the same.

And this is where the problem is when it comes to statues.

GC will ask for Rocky, as he is the icon of that generation. Someone older will be asking for Liam Brady, Charlie George or Frank McLintock. An even older generation (possibly no longer with us) would ask for Clif Bastin or Alex James. Someone my generation already has their hero, Tony Adams.

Ask a 14 year old in 8 years time who they want and they might say Alexis Sanchez.

We all have different ideas on who should be the next statue.

What is the criteria? Is it objective? Is it subjective? Is a player who played for us 7 years deserving of a statue? How about David O’Leary? Our record appearance holder?

If someone breaks Thierry Henry’s goal scoring record, do they automatically get one? It really is a minefield.

Herbert Chapman is perhaps the most important man in Arsenal’s history. He deserves his. Adams as our greatest ever player and most successful captain, he is Mr Arsenal and fully deserving. Likewise Henry, our top scorer, and perhaps the best player most of us have ever seen.

We then get to Dennis Bergkamp. What is the reasoning behind him having a statue? Yes, he was a great player, a modern day great, but was he any more deserving then Bastin, James, Brady or Rocky? I honestly do not know.

Outside of statues, Geordie Armstrong has a pitch at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground named in his memory. Should he be in the hat for a statue? What about Kenny Sansom?

Then we come to Rocky himself.

The Hale end Academy in Walthamstow has already named after Rocastle. The David Rocastle indoor centre  was opened up in August 2006. So Rocky already has an honour within Arsenal, and taking into account he was an academy graduate, it is a very touching one.

Now this is not to say Rocky, Armstrong, Brady, Bastin or anyone else is not deserving on an honour, or are more deserving than others in the list. It is simply a show of how problematic it can be if you open up a discussion on who should be next to get a statue.

And if you leave it in the hands of fans to decide, it will be even worse. We all remember the Gunners Greatest Players list. It was horrendous. Marc Overmars above Rocky, Sylvian Wiltord above Geordie Armstrong, Anelka above Ted Drake (another who is in the statue hat) and Kanu above Alan Smith.

We can not be trusted to make a decision.

I am of the simple opinion that no one should be next. That the more statues you have, the less value each one has. That if you accept what everyone wants, you will end up with 100 statues all around the ground.

There is one statue that does need to go up, however. Or when I say a statue, I mean a bust. George Graham deserves his place next to Herbert Chapman and Arsene Wenger.

Keenos