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Freddie Ljungberg
English Premier League Football

Will Arsenal regret not retaining faith in Freddie Ljungberg?

Freddie Ljungberg
Nick Potts/PA Wire.

It’s been a tough couple of months for Arsenal. Unai Emery getting the club to the worst possible start in years!, the fans’ confrontation with Granit Xhaka. Not to forget, the ever-persistent problem regarding the away form. A shift to mediocrity is the last thing which any fan would have wished for. Although the board had been considering the case for quite some time now, the news did come as a surprise to the players who were waiting for the gaffer to arrive for the day’s training that morning. Emery getting sacked and the subsequent appointment of Freddie Ljungberg who is well respected by the fan base was inevitable.

Ljungberg’s potential impact on Arsenal:

Ljungberg enjoyed a brief spell coaching the under-23’s before being given the charge of the senior team’s assistant manager. Having been a part of the famous Invincibles side in 2003-04, there’s no looking back at the fact that he is a crowd favourite. A few current first-team players had already been managed by him during his stint with the youth side. Bringing Ljungberg would have been the board’s best bet to better the mood across the club and especially amongst the fans. There was also a wave of optimism that he could bring back the glory days. 

Problems are aplenty for Arsenal. The Unai Emery era clearly didn’t take the club forward. Least said, it was left shattered with a few bits of it left to help serve to build a foundation for Ljungberg.

One of the biggest worries was a missing anchorman who can keep up with both the club’s spirit in terms of winning, and also being an influence for the rest. The defensive organization is another big issue on the list. Though it is fair to say that the later part of the Wenger era had seen a lot of incoming goals too, Emery seemed to have done nothing to address the problem. The fact that the team has kept hardly a few clean sheets in the entire season, speaks volumes about how vulnerable the defence has been. 

Defensive fragility has been the biggest reason for the pathetic away form. The players on the pitch often look lost at times, hinting at a lack of understanding. Mustafi and Sokratis have had the worst from the fan base. These players weren’t as bad as they are labelled now in their previous clubs. However, Ljungberg’s addition promised to bring a solution to this.

Have Arsenal missed out on an astute man-manager?

We’ve witnessed a lot of situations where a manager’s disturbed relationship, with a player can sometimes affect the entire team performance. Mesut Ozil and Lucas Torriera had quite often found themselves lost under Emery.

While it is important for players to blend in with the manager’s philosophy, it is also important that the players understand the manager’s ideas and vision. Emery, quite often than not had been very unclear about what he wants. Most of it was reflected in the player’s movements on the pitch. A very unhealthy player coordination had further summed it up.

Ljungberg could clearly have fared better than Emery in this case, for he’s been in London for a considerable amount of time. He has seen this league progress, and certainly knew where to begin from.

The match against Norwich did show some signs of improvement. Although the team struggled to move forward, but the scope of transition certainly seemed to be on the rise.

The Ozil saga during Emery’s tenure had a lot of fingers pointing towards Emery. Exclusion of one of the star players might not be welcomed by fans in general. Ljungberg didn’t seem to behave any different by excluding the costliest player the club ever bought for very similar reasons. However, he had concrete reasons in mind. Nicholas Pepe being omitted from the team for valid reasons sent a clear message to the other players, about fighting for a place in squad. A mentality that is really necessary to be instilled in the current situation. Something which hasn’t been any good at the Arsenal camp either.

Will Arsenal regret not persisting with Ljungberg?

For all that’s worth, an Invincible had taken in charge at a very important time. Per Mertesacker assisting him in the process was another positive. The damage had been massive. This made it all the more necessary, that both Ljungberg and Per were backed till the end.

The recent trend about ex-players taking charge at their old clubs has further gained approval, following the magnificent start for Frank Lampard at Chelsea.

In such a scenario, the club’s decision to not invest faith in Ljungberg and instead opt for former club footballer Mikel Arteta, certainly seems like a quick but impractical decision.  

Written By: Anirudh Madedhi.


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