Jonker: Arsenal scouting must be restructured

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In an interview with Dutch football magazine Voetbal International [paywalled], published in September, Andries Jonker has claimed that Arsenal must overhaul their entire scouting network if they are to turn the club’s Academy into the best in the world.

The Dutchman was appointed head of the Academy this summer and has wasted no time auditing the entire set-up and reshuffling personnel recruiting compatriots Frans de Kat and Jan van Loon to take over the under-18 and under-16 squads.

Speaking passionately about Arsenal’s youth project the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona coach outlined the changes he thinks the Gunners must make.

“Arsenal want more talented players to come through, because that has been lacking. They want me to develop the players from the academy much better than it was done before.

“At this moment, considering the investments the club have made, players have hardly been developed properly. This is why they wanted me, a man who can guide the coaches and who can influence the other coaches.

“Ivan Gazidis wants Arsenal to be the best academy in the world. He realises that will cost money and will take time, but that is his ambition.

“The scouting must be restructured all over again. It needs to be brought to a level so that we can bring in the absolute best talents from abroad and from England at an age that Wenger can immediately work with them.

“My chief scout at the academy, Steve Morrow, came and asked me what kind of players I wanted him to look for. So I said, the best player I have worked on, Xavi.

Revealing Arsene Wenger tried to bring him to Arsenal after Euro 2012 (he instead became Felix Magath’s assistant at Wolfsburg) Jonker opened up on how his relationship with the Frenchman has strengthened thanks to a mutual respect for technically astute football.

“Almost every day Wenger and I go through a number of things. He is approachable, but I do have to show him what we are doing. We must not go behind his back.

“It is important that Wenger and I work closely together. What I do see is that everybody at the club has the feeling that they need to have the green light from Wenger before they do anything. But maybe that is not the case.

“I have a very good feeling about the way Wenger and I are working together. We both think the technical side of the game is very important.

“But there are a lot of things in the academy which can be improved or should be done different.”

In a separate interview, also appearing in the Dutch press, Jonker made clear that there’s no point bothering with a youth academy if you don’t have a manager who wants to promote homegrown talent. Interestingly he also confirmed the club have assured him that this is a long-term ambition that’ll long outlast Arsene Wenger.

“I think it is very important to pay attention to youth, that’s why it’s good that we’ve a manager like Arsene.

“If you have a first team coach who doesn’t believe in young player you have to question why you even have a youth academy. I’m glad that he’s extended his contract but the club have told me that when or if he leaves, that a similar kind of manager will be appointed. I also found this important.”

On the issue of restructuring the scouting network it appears Jonker has already started putting plans in place. Shaun O’Connor (the man who discovered Jack Wilshere) has already returned to the Emirates after a spell at Brentford and former Reading and Leeds United boss (and ex-Gooner) Brian McDermott is also thought to have been signed up to work with Steve Rowley.

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Thanks to @AlwinKelderman for getting us through Voetbal International’s paywall!

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Tomás Rosicky
Tomás Rosicky

He sounds likes a man that knows what he wants. Love to see what he does with Zelalem and Crowley.

fabulous
fabulous

Have to agree. I’ve always thought we had one of the best academy around, but the fact is we only give youth more of a chance than any other top club in England, out of necessity, and the fact remains our academy is still relatively poor. This is pretty evident when our U21, U16 and the like keep losing to Villa, Chelsea and Soton. All 3 of which have better academy players. Add in to the fact most of the players who do make it through are purchased when they’re nearing their 20s instead of coming through our academy from a young age. Compare that to Bayern and Barca for instance, and that just puts what Jonkers is saying here into context. Exciting times ahead!

Chinaman
Chinaman

Lets not forget the earlier ruling which restricted us to players living within a mile of the club. We didn’t have access to the same quality of youngsters.

No point comparing Arsenal to clubs outside England as factors such as visa regulations come into play.

The easiest source of talent is from colonies which European Nations created in other parts of the world. France have African Colonies, Germany have Poland and Turkey, Spain / Portugal have South and Central America. England have the Indian Sub-Continent. Great for the ECB but does nothing for the FA!!!

JJ
JJ

How long until the players start coming, we could do with some now…

Charlie
Charlie

Very interesting article!

Kelechi
Kelechi

Blah blah blah

arseblog
Admin

Well done.

Beagleboy
Beagleboy

Troll got your tongue?

Jarl Cenkinson
Jarl Cenkinson

Sort the camera out first I suggest

o'gizzle
o'gizzle

#WeDontNeedCesc

Hoosier Gunner
Hoosier Gunner

Not sure if you’re insinuating or not, but this is starting to get tiring.

fabulous
fabulous

Very well said. There are many things to bleat on about the defeat to Chelsea but not re-signing Cesc is hardly top of the list. He was even poor on Sunday apart from that one assist when we have our whole team bombing forward, you present the same chance to Ozil I’d bet he’d make it as well. Some of our fans fall for the media bullshit so easily it’s unbelievable.

serious note
serious note

Sorry but we dont need the media to determine which of the two (cesc or ozil) can offer more to Arsenal.

If you know your football you know that Cesc’s organisational playmaking and awareness of all players on the field is simply INVALUABLE.

Cesc became one of the worlds best midfielders while at Arsenal. He achieved that with Eboue, Denislon and a bunch of others he had to carry. Ozil was playing with Ronaldo Di maria Benzema etc.

Arsene Wenger chose Cesc Fabregas to replace Patrick Vieiera and deemed him ready and responsible enough at the age of 18-19 to apply his whole playing philosophy. Do we understand what a special player Cesc was for Arsenal ? Obviously not…..for this kid was our xavi/pirlo hybrid.

Cesc makes others around him look good. Ozil needs others around him (better and stronger) to look good. That is a key difference. Cesc knows the epl Ozil drops when the going gets tough.

The fact that our son has been given with a ribbon to fucking mourinho and chelsea and watching them doing well and beating us so easy is not just an insult but a humiliation.

Raage
Raage

Serious Note: *clap clap clap* The second to last paragraph hits the nail on the head. As much as I love Özil and believe that some of the stick is unwarranted the man/woman is right. Cesc leads by example.

Cesc situation is like when you see an Ex and it hurts deep inside, where it could have been so special but you let them get away. We should have just swallowed our pride and took him back.

serious note
serious note

Only if we win 3 epl titles in a row plus a champions league or two in the next 5 years will the decision not to bring Cesc back look good, and god help Arsenal if Chelsea wins the league or the champions league with Cesc.

Jack Aron Ox etc need to reward Wenger for this act of faith. He said no to Cesc out of his principles to support the british core of players….

Phil
Phil

Jesus fuck. By that standard, the Invincibles were pretty ordinary.

Lulu
Lulu

Jonker quite a change – rare an Arsenal employee is so forthright.. Good to see Ivan also planning for the post Wenger era so hopefully it will be a seismic change when the boss does retire.

Prague_gooner

i have bad feeling about this…This cannot be healthy

What I do see is that everybody at the club has the feeling that they need to have the green light from Wenger before they do anything. But maybe that is not the case.

Miranda
Miranda

Yes, that was the strongest impression I got from the interview, but I suppose it’s not a surprise. We already knew that Wenger has absolute control over everything on the footballing side. It’s why he likes it with us so much – no other club in the world would give him such power regardless of the results.

One of the big differences between Wenger and Fergie is that Fergie would delegate and would regularly change his backroom staff if he saw someone out there who might do the job better. He wasn’t afraid of bringing in young, ambitious people with possibly challenging ideas. That’s how he kept the club fresh, and many United fans attribute his success to the series of excellent coaches. Wenger, by contrast, likes to surround himself with humble subordinates and no one ever gets sacked. I think he’s even still got his right-hand man brought with him from Monaco.

Jonker has so far done a excellent job in turning around the disgrace that our academy had become – relegation from the elite division of the under-21s to the outer darkness of division 2 along with the likes of Derby, Blackburn and Stoke! And as for the under-18s, they barely won a game all season, despite having a wealth of talent that now is being permitted to flower. Currently we’re top of the table at both age levels and in our CL group with an impressive goal difference.

For this I suspect we have Gazidis to thank. Gazidis has gone up massively in my estimation in the last couple of years. He has not just come up trumps with the sponsorship, he also seen the problems on the footballing side – the academy, the injuries – and recruited two top men to turn things around. Let’s hope neither of them fall out with Wenger. Shad, too, apparently – didn’t Amy Lawrence say as much? – is talking about going carefully, not ruffling feathers, not introducing new ideas. Given the increasingly desperate injury situation, a few new ideas sound like just what we need, or even the old-fashioned one of letting players with long-term tendon problems either have the surgery they need or at the very least be given a rest.

I get the impression Jonker is more outspoken and impatient than Shad and less likely to tolerate attempts to prevent him getting on with the job as he sees fit. Let’s just cross our fingers he doesn’t fall out with Wenger too quickly. He looks like a man we need to keep our hands on. Interesting too that when Jonker talked with Gazidis the possibility of Wenger leaving was raised.

WengersNoseHair
WengersNoseHair

All you’ve done is draw caricatures of Wenger and Ferguson, as if you know either of them well enough to make such emphatic statements. In fact, all through his career Ferguson was known as a ‘dictator’.

And in this article of all places, it is ludicrous to make the claim that “Wenger, by contrast, likes to surround himself with humble subordinates and no one ever gets sacked”. To suggest that Wenger is too timid or too power hungry or whatever to shake up the people in the club, to bring in new people, is absurd. In this article alone is named Andries Jonkers, Frans de Kat, Jan van Loon, Shaun O’Connor and Brian McDermott as people who have recently been brought in. Add to that Shad Forsythe and Andy Rolls on the medical side, and it’s clear your argument has no legs to stand on.

And your comment “I think he’s even still got his right-hand man brought with him from Monaco” is just twisted to try to make it seem like Wenger likes to surround himself with yes men. It is actually very normal for managers to bring their staff with them wherever they go. Off the top of my head, Gaurdiola did it when he went to Bayern, Jose Mourinho is famous for doing it, Van Gaal did it coming to United, AVB, etc.

And you contradict yourself by claiming power hungry Wenger controls everything at the club and doesn’t like any change, and at the same time claim there has been good changes, but they are all down to Gazidis. If Gazidis has been responsible for them, them Wenger is not the dictator you claim he is.

And neither you nor Amy Lawrence know enough about Shad to know what he will be like at the club under Wenger. After all, he spent ten years with Germany, so he’s not exactly green. And anyway, it was Emperor Wenger that appointed him in the first place.

Like Arsepedant says below, you’re really looking for a negative here, aren’t you?

Miranda
Miranda

That’s a very crude reading. I didn’t say Wenger is either timid or dictatorial. What I think is that he prefers vertical relationships (father-son, master-pupil) to horizontal, more equal ones. It was an observation made by one of the earliest and best biographies which suggested that in in his youth he was the type of boy that got on better with adults than other children. He had father-figures when young, and in adulthood has become one himself – many of the players have talked about him being a father to them. This rings true for me and explains why his backroom staff have been modest unchallenging types either by nature (Pat Rice) or at least in terms of being promoted from within the club and therefore not coming from elsewhere with established reputations (Bould). Jonker looks a quite different type, an outsider, ambitious, outspoken, with firm ideas of his own – hence my hunch that he’s a Gazidis appointment.

You think if this analysis were right, Wenger would have stood up to Gazidis and refused to accept any change? Well, as far as the appointment of Shad and Jonker goes, I’m not sure he’d be in a position to, not given the well-documented and much-discussed days we have lost to injury in the last decade (massively more than other clubs); and not given the relegated catastrophe that the academy had been allowed to drift into. Gazidis is Wenger’s boss. As chief-exec and board member, probably the most influential of any of them, he could, if he wanted, get Wenger the sack. But Gazidis is, I think, more than capable of getting his way by simple persuasion. He’s tactful, quiet, a top-notch negotiator – he must be given the good prices we’ve got for players we’ve sold. Wenger’s relationship with him, though doubtless very amicable, is actually another vertical one of employer-employee, just as is his relationship with Kroenke. He himself has stressed his humble-employee status on several occasions. Fergie didn’t stress his quite so much, as far as I know, but he sure as hell was aware of it. Asked after he retired why he gave his backing to the Glazers, he replied, ‘Because they backed me.’ Same thing is true with Wenger, who even when his best friend was kicked out of the club, apparently didn’t protest, just went grey in the face for a few weeks and got on with the job. He likes the job a lot, does Wenger, so I don’t see him putting it on the line.

Arsepedant
Arsepedant

You’re really trying hard to look for a negative here, aren’t you?

John
John

I like Arsene. But also thought this was the most interesting and positive thing the interview revealed.

bren
bren

Stand by for all the usual people complaining that this won’t help the team today.

Great stuff making The Arsenal’s future very bright.

Good piece Andrew.

J.P.
J.P.

I like what I hear. Hopefully he’ll find and develop players with a little more size than we have.

lauren van luzhny
lauren van luzhny

thank you arseblog for keeping us updated regarding the stuff going on inside the club. keep it up.

Costa Gooner

Sounds ok to me

Loke
Loke

Seems to know his stuff. But I dont get why he have to run everything through Wenger. Did not seem to help matters with Jonker’s predeccessor. Just give him free hands to do what he believe is best. That is why he was hired after all, cause of his expertise in youth development.

Otherwise Wenger could just plan it himself and delegate to others to execute if he feels he knows best.

santori
santori

Development must go hand in hand with the way we play and what we need in the first team.

This is basic.

And Wenger needs to know who is up and coming where he needs to reinforce from market because we don’t have the player from Academy.

What’s there not to understand?

Trex d Gunner
Trex d Gunner

Sounds like an intelligent chap, who knows exactly what he is doing. Its also nice to know the club is planning for the post-Wenger era.

RoyKeane's Beard
RoyKeane's Beard

Time to start signing big-ass kids for defensive positions

santori
santori

Calum Chambers, Isaac Hayden. We have plenty of youth potential in the area.

Problem is not youth. Meterscielny are 27++.

We really should have added a player between 23-25 at Cback. That said, there was a restricted market for quality in this area and Wenger took a gamble extrapolating 4 months to 9 months ahead with likely info on availability of certain players then.

A loan would have been a good option or at very least an older player (Kallstrom deal) for cover IMO. Don’t understand the hesitancy here.

Gooner1886
Gooner1886

I like this guy. He basically said… Your academy is shit and I’m gonna fix it for you!

Fair play to him, hope he proves to be very successful

santori
santori

Which is why Wenger brought him in. Wenger is saying the Academy needs help.

😉

Aamir
Aamir

Yes, Arsenal have a good academy but me must push to the next level. In a recent book it was revealed that Arsenal were on the verge of losing their Category A academy status a couple years ago. Glad to see that the club recognizes the need to improve. Hopefully in a few years time our academy can be like Barcelona in which we can expect to use 2-3 new players every year for the first team. (Of course doesn’t mean we should stop poaching from Barca. After what they did with Cesc, I say we sign Munir, Sergi Samper, and Adama Traore from those cunts. God I’ve lost pretty much all the respect I had for them)

santori
santori

Barca DNA.

We know loyalty isn’t in that mix.;)

As good as he is, Cesc is a bit of a softie. Should have stayed at Arsenal. he precipitated the move that complicated us and led to a string of top players leaving the club.

OTOH, Wenger was guilty of not building sufficiently around Cesc at that time. Funding was not quite there yet so bad timing all round.

kebabsmasher
kebabsmasher

How about restructuring the medics and physios? Oh wait we did that. Seems like the whole club has been restructured over the last several years but wengers still here and still has no plan b.

santori
santori

We just did. News flash.;)

But if you’re built like an egg, you’re built like an egg.

kebabsmasher
kebabsmasher

I mean, some managers buy players they actually need and even play those players in their best position. Some managers rotate. Some change tactics. Some make subs when its needed to change games not wait just in case we get more injuries. Evolve wenger or ….

santori
santori

Other teams have injury issues too and are thin in certain areas.

Its the same with the criticism at our defending from set pieces. We aren’t Chelsea but if you look at Liverpool and United, they have similar issues. Its just the press in all their bias hold us as the only team to defend with zonal system which is as per usual incorrect.

And whilst Wenger has his limits as a tactician, he is not poor by any means. His approach is more laissez faire which requires the players to run the show themselves. He does not like to intervene preferring organic correction. Whether this is the correct approach is debatable particularly if we do not have all the pieces in the puzzle as far as top talent is concern since we carry a fair amount of development in the squad (Say Chambers) which at times will be at our expense.

Also for this system to work, a degree of familiarity needs to be nurtured and this takes a bit of time. Once it works, we will be brilliant but until then, the lack of intervention means there will always be hiccups and at possible (likely) detriment to the season.

santori
santori

If you look at the team prior to 2003-2004, it was an older team with ready made experience imported in from market.

Where these days, we have to balance out youth with experience as we are a self funded team and may not be able entirely to get top players for the entire squad (unlike say Chelsea and City)

Remember as well that whilst Chelsea got Costa or Fab for 30m mark, they can push prices upwards and we will find it hard to follow as we have to spread investments more evenly across the squad. There is also the issue of much higher wages to think about. Whilst we can dream of Cesc giving us first preference for a move back to the UK, money talks over loyalty if we haven’t learnt some critical lessons as is from the RVP saga. Cesc chose to leave us in a lurch in search of some mythical Barca DNA which fucked him over in the end anyway.

The youth academy issue is complicated with the oil rich teams getting in on the game and inflating the market. In particular, they entered into the fray with concerns regarding ‘home grown’ rulings. There for unlike the mid to late noughties, the pool of talent available to us has become more critical and difficult to cull. The Chelsea academy has again deeper pockets. Ditto City if however they have a bit of a bad rep these days for being the grave yard of English talent.

Arsena; have had some success with Gnabry and Zelalem. Jack was also an excellent local triumph. I think Arsenal should get creative and get into developing its own Academies in certain potentially rich talent pools like the United States/Centro America for example. Ditto maybe China and India with big populations (never mind lack of footy tradition), maybe Eastern Bloc countries (Russia) where the academy system there have broken down over the last decade (or Czech central Europe/Serbia)

Provide the facilities and training in situ for kids at an early age and talent spot from there.

At very least it could be an additional source of revenue stream and marketing for the club in these areas.

serious note
serious note

So if i get this right…just cause the kid wanted to go home to his boyhood club and be with his mates and family…a kid who had just missed on Barcas epic season and achievements…we will hold it against him like a moaning housewife? We will use ego and sentiment instead of looking at ability and experience?

Simple question: Does Cesc improve Arsenal?

If you say yes then you get him, If you say no then please dont talk football, go watch master chef or something….

Chilli
Chilli

you make it sound like going to the butcher’s for some meat. Fuck what the meat is saying, just get it!?!? And yes, we will hold it against him, for there was Wenger who put that trust in him and made him and when the going got tough, our most important player leaves, in a way which wasn’t very flattering. And because real life is not just like football manager, where you look at the stats and just buy. There are ppl involved, know what that means? Ever made a deal in your real life? Did you notice, how you had to compromise and get along on a personal level etc.?
“yeah cesc, of course you can come back, after fucking as over at a time when we most needed you. we put all our hope and believe in you, made you the youngest captain and then you go back home, were we all knew they were gonna screw you over. Now you wanna come back? but we have so many players in you position…. oh wait, lets fuck them over! although we dont need you. and how much money do you want?”
i actually still like cesc, but he wasnt very clever in terms of who to trust. and you can forgive arsene for not just lloking at stats and numbers, after having been dissapointed by his most influential and best player. Normally we like/respect ppl with principles, not so at Arsenal, or what…

santori
santori

Arsenal’s marketing team IMO is too conservative.

We have a brand for development. It is natural to go into Development Academies around the world.

Provide facilities and good coaching in exchange for potential catchment, revenue and brand marketing.

We are way behind the curve in terms of commercial revenue for a reason.

Made in Nigeria
Made in Nigeria

I’m glad that he’s extended his contract but the club have told me that when or if he leaves, that a similar kind of manager will be appointed…… #Interesting…. I can’t imagine Arsenal without Arsene….

vnet
vnet

Get the coaches and scouts from southampton. Looks like they know what they’ve been doing..

Policeman's Bangers 'N' Mash
Policeman's Bangers 'N' Mash

BREAKING: Entire academy out for nine years with fractured gooch.

Cygan Is My Religion
Cygan Is My Religion

Jan Van Loon. That is all.

Arsenalman29
Arsenalman29

We should look into employing some of the Southampton scouts. They seem to do great with their youth, we have taken a right few great players from them, would save us a bit of money too if they’re producing them for us. 3 ex saints are the future of Arsenal, Walcott, Ox and Chambers! 😀 i do not know which one excites me most? But i cannot wait to get Theo back!

This is my perfect formation/team i would eventually like to see.

…………………..Schezny

Debuchy. Mertesacker. Koscielny. Gibbs.

…..,…,…..Ramsey. Chambers.

Walcott. Özil. Alexis.

…….,,………Welbeck.

I have a feeling we are going to go on a great run now, i think the International break has come at a perfect time.

Also i don’t wish injury on any player, well not very serious ones. But i hope Costa and Fabregas get injured for 3 or 4 months 🙂

Arsepedant
Arsepedant

I like the English axis in that line-up. Also nice to note that four Arsenal boys – Chambers, Gibbs, Wilshere, and Welbeck – are starting for England today at Wembley.

Forfuckssake
Forfuckssake

Who was in charge of the academy that brought us Adams, Keown, Davis, Rocastle, Thomas, Merson etc ? Deserves to be knighted.

Alexstratz
Alexstratz

Well scouting isn’t the same thing as academy development although the latter needs the former. I think Wenger is mostly disappointed with our scouting since we’ve missed some great deals in the past. As for our academy, Jack Wilshere comes to mind but that’s all. The others were brought from the likes of Southampton.

Forfuckssake
Forfuckssake

Thinking about that team never to be forgotten won the league against the odds. We should not forget George Graham for that and its a big shame that he has not received the appreciation he deserves. That was a night of pure football ecstasy and changed Arsenal forever. CHEERS GRAHAM

spinner
spinner

One of the reasons appreciation is diluted for George Graham is he was sacked for stealing a significant amount of money from the club.
Another reason was he went on to manage the Spuds. True gooners don’t do that.

Forfuckssake
Forfuckssake

All managers were taking back handers those days and to the club it was actually pocket money. The man was a legend and screwed by the club. He was jobless and went to the spuds and won them fuck all. The night in Liverpool filled our fans with pride. Dont be a killjoy just because he took a few quid in the back pocket

spinner
spinner

Why are you calling me a killjoy? Did I say they were my views? I am merely giving you an explanation why George Graham doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves.
I will always appreciate GG as he was the manager when I was growing up. My first Highbury game was the Littlewoods Semi Cup final against the spuds in 1987. The first trophy I saw us win was the Littlewoods Cup in Graham’s first season in charge.
I note your comment is factually incorrect – GG was not ‘jobless’ when he joined the scum, he was manager of Leeds at the time. Also he won the spuds a trophy.
I personally don’t care too much how much he took as a back hander as it was worth it for 26/05/89.
He shouldn’t have joined the scum though. Even he probably knows that was a bad move, he was sacked by that prick Levy a few weeks after they took over the club.

Forfuckssake
Forfuckssake

Dont forget as well as a player George was a double winner. Doesnt anyone else wish to see this man come on the pitch one day at the emirates and get the salute he deserves and do not forget Wenger earns an absolute fortune in comparison. GEORGE GRAHAM deserves his name in the Arsenal hall of fame! Agree or disagree?

Goonergoose
Goonergoose

Seems apt that George Graham is coming on Arseblog and blowing his own trumpet under the pseudonym ‘Forfuckssake’…

Az Ahmed
Az Ahmed

I think i would take the boring boring arsenal label if it meant we could win things. Obviously we love aesthetically pleasing football but to give up aesthetics for success was the way of Graham

Bouldy's Tupee
Bouldy's Tupee

This guy means business when it comes youth development. Exciting times are a comin’. #nojonkingaround

Gooner1886
Gooner1886

George graham is an absolute legend, my first real memory of arsenal was that “it’s up for grabs now” moment.

Winning the title that year would be as much as an achievement or maybe even more so than winning the title this year… Liverpool were immense and we were a bunch of alcoholic chancers lol

Giroud's abs
Giroud's abs

I’m really excited to see what he can bring to the Arsenal academy. He seems much more willing to speak than most youth coaches have been. Hope to see more of the likes of Adams and Wilshere coming through from his work!

Forfuckssake
Forfuckssake

Goonergoose or Goonermoose you are losing the point. The article is about the academy looking forward to the future. I was simply referring to the past when we produced many great young players that went on to achieve one of the greatest iconic victories in football history on Liverpool soil. It should not be forgotten who managed that team.

Dylan
Dylan

Can he play CB?