Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sacking Jonker would create further uncertainty surrounding the Arsenal academy

It was already clear that there were going to be some alterations within the Arsenal academy coaching set-up this summer, with U18s coach Frans De Kat poised to leave in the near future.

Now reports have emerged that academy manager Andries Jonker and U16 coach Jan Van Loon could be dismissed as the club seek to make significant changes at youth level.

If Jonker was to be judged purely on results over the past couple of seasons, then perhaps a case could be made for him to let go, with Arsenal having finished bottom of the lowest division in the U18 Premier League last campaign, while they have registered some uninspiring results at that level this time around.

Matters have been a little better with the other sides- the U21s are on the cusp of the promotion, while Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup- but the main focus of an academy, of course, is on development and building for the future, and in that regard Jonker can be seen to have made some significant steps forward since his appointment in 2014.

Going into this season it was clear that Arsenal’s youth set-up needed revitalising, and Jonker acted accordingly as he sanctioned deals for some standout talents, including Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Donyell Malen.

Several homegrown youngsters have developed well under Jonker’s guidance, with Chris Willock having thrived at U21 level, while striker Edward Nketiah has been in excellent goalscoring form for the U18s this campaign.

If Arsenal are to have a long-term vision in place for their academy then they can’t expect to achieve those aims by frequently changing their academy chiefs. Terry Burton moved on after only a short spell in charge, and, if these reports are to be believed, Jonker could well be gone before the start of next season.

It would spell the end of the Dutch revolution at Arsenal if Jonker, De Kat and Van Loon were all to depart in the same summer, and would raise serious questions about the club’s approach to youth development.

If such a scenario did occur then it is difficult to envisage who would replace Jonker. An individual familiar with the club would be ideal, but Arsenal need to be making an appointment with the long-term picture in mind.

Kwame Ampadu is set to be named as the club’s new U18 coach, with Thierry Henry working alongside him. Beyond that, however, the future is rather uncertain as far as Arsenal’s youth coaching staff are concerned.

Some stability is needed, but at present Arsenal’s youth system appears devoid of direction.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


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Personally I think Jonker’s done a great job at Arsenal so far and in my opinion it would be a huge mistake to let go of him right now (At the very least keep him for two more seasons at least).


Why would the club even think of sacking him?? Forget results, we’ve signed some great youth players under him. He seems to know what he’s doing.
Times like these makes me feel we really do need Dein back. All we have are coporate guys who have no knowledge of the footballing side of things.

Alexis' spine

Wenger hasn’t done any better in the past decade. While being at the bottom is very bad for a club like Arsenal, development is what that’s more key in the academy level. So if managers at that level are changed now and then cause of poor results, the main team manager should have thus been shipped out ages ago. The approach has to be either bottom up, or top down, with the messages resonating well at all different levels.


Are you really saying that an immaculate record in Champions league qualification & 2 FA Cups is failure? I ask because I struggle to follow your logic and your Englush.


It is still relative underachievement for a club like Arsenal. Wenger would have been gone long ago if judged by the same criteria.


You exemplify the problem with a lot our fans today in that you have been manipulated in to believing mediocrity is acceptable for this club. Lets establish something, finishing top four and winning a few cups is not an acceptable target for Arsenal. It’s seems since we’ve moved to the new stadium mediocrity is acceptable. if we’re going to progress forward this needs to stop but ultimately while we consider qualifying for a competition we have no chance of winning as acceptable, we will perpetuate with with mediocrity.

Parlour's pay packet

I don’t think the players or the manager start the season with a target of only reaching the top four. The target will be to win every game. You can reasonably suggest that there are better ways to achieve that target than the manager, board and players currently employ but they are not setting out not trying to win the league.


I had my doubts about Jonker, but at least when he’s come to recruitment, he’s definitely done a good job.
The Jeff
Dragomiv (spelt it wrong, Romanian kid) have all been astute buys, and have talent to make it.

It would be quite ironic for Arsenal to fire a manager (academy) based on one season of underachievement, considering, well…


Hard to judge how well he has done when we don’t know what constraints he has been up against and how much say he has been allowed. I remember Liam Brady falling out with Wenger because he felt his assessment of potential was being completely ignored and sometimes the wrong kids (in his judgement) were being released too early and the less gifted ones kept on. As for results, since the under-18s were bottom when Jonker arrived and are now 6th, while the under-21s were 11th and relegated to the duds’ league, but are now challenging for promotion, it looks… Read more »


The academy finally seems to be working again and they want to fire the guy who is the cause of this? :/

Malaysian gunner

he person to be axed is Wenger .


I hate when Arseblog comments or republishes completely unverified tabloid fodder. You recently did it for the Szczesny story and now again for this. And once again its being used by your readership as evidence that Wenger is failing, this time at academy level, even though in the last two years both Bellerin and Iwobi have broken into the first team. Honestly Arseblog, i’m ok with you guys commenting on this shit but there was time when you were able to be critical about it, or at the very least humorous. Fairly certain you guys are going to morph into… Read more »


What a weird comment. Jeorge knows more about the youth setup at Arsenal than anyone.


You have to scroll down a bit to find the story: This story originated from The Sun, which isn’t exactly known for publishing truth or citing its sources. What Jeorge seems to be doing in this article is merely commenting on it. He provides no further information or what his source is. I’m not doubting Jeorge’s knowledge of the youth team, I quite like his blog, but I doubt he has the type of access that would give him knowledge of whether or not key staff are going to be sacked, lets not forget he’s a blogger not a… Read more »


What I notice about the Sun piece is that there’s no mention of sacking at all. What’s said is that Gazidis may have to ‘admit defeat’ over his attempt to reform the academy because Jonker is feeling isolated now his compatriot de Kat has gone and it’s possible that he too will be wanting to leave. The word ‘sack’ was added – invented – by the Star, which gives the Sun’s article as its source. While I wouldn’t trust a word that appears the Sun, this isn’t the sort of story it normally invents. It’s not obvious clickbait, like transfer… Read more »


Giddy, you’re right except Jeorge seems to relying on the Star, which took the story from the Sun and then invented a bit more, rather than the marginally more accurate Sun where it first appeared. That’s assuming Jeorge doesn’t have inside sources which, because he can’t disclose them, we’ve no idea about.

Bendtner's Ego

Look at all of our young players who are out on loan and playing fairly well (Toral, Akpom, Zalelem).

I think we would have guaranteed promotion if they had stayed but would they have developed as well with the weaker competition? I doubt it.


Exactly. Hayden would probably have been the biggest asset of the lot in ensuring promotion. If you add in even 3 of the 5 or 6 on loan, though, that means each of their appearances would be at the expense of the other lads who have generally done well this year. They’d then drop down to the 18s, someone there would then miss out. As for Van Loon, only seen his teams in action twice, in tournaments, but it looks like he is doing something different. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on defending as a team, with… Read more »


You may have found the reason why Wenger is planning to get shot with the comment “emphasis on defending”


Arteta comes to mind


it seems this report is solely based on the fact that DeKat is leaving his role with the U18’s to take a job with the Dutch FA. You can see it now, a journo sitting there thinking how can I get another dig at Arsenal, “oh whats this, a dutch coach is leaving the Arsenal academy, now how can i use this, ah, Arsenal have another couple of dutch guys working in the Academy, one is even head of the Academy. There it is, DeKat leaving, the other two are now in danger of going, but that don’t sound dramatic… Read more »


I honestly believe as a club we are near crisis point. A large section of fans are un happy.
The youth set up seems to be going through some uncertainty. We have no obvious succession plan in place for wenger. No idea if he’s going to sign for another 3 years or not.
No clear direction on the pitch we just seem to be happy with champions league qualification and a silent owner who’s only interest seems to be the profit he can make.
Worrying times


what do you mean by succession plan for Wenger, I see this little soundbite thrown out there all the time, as if its the norm for big clubs, or indeed clubs in general, to have their next manager already at their club, working as a number 2 or a coach, So voldermort could you explain if that is what you expect AFC to do, or what exactly is your idea of a succession plan.


We have seen some excellent managers go to other clubs. Ie Klopp,spurs new manager Chelsea new manager. All class acts.
We have already missed out and we have no idea if he’s going to stay on leave after his contract ends.
Simeone will be snapped up by another club unless we act sooner rather than later.


that does not even remotely answer the question, again I ask what do you mean by “succession plan”, as it looks like you used the soundbite for the sake of it.


Youth development is hardly something that can be adequately judged after just two years. Can’t deny he’s taking us in the right direction with youth talent we’ve acquired while he’s been here. Give him a couple more season before we just start arbitrarily waving the axe around at youth level.


Jonker seems a very intelligent guy. Our youth development and academy was actually significantly behind others in 2012-13. When Jonker came in , he specifically pointed out that there was a LOT to improve at Arsenal. He needs to stay for another 2-3 years before we can judge him.


Isn’t it obvious? Clearly were making room for former players to come back and Arteta to stay at the club and become Arsenal next managers.


The youth level competition is pretty cut throat at the moment. Wenger has brought through some good talent recently in Iwobi, Coquelin and Bellerin. I’m not sure how some people can conveniently say Wenger is clueless butthink these players were not brought in under the approval of the manager. They complain Wenger is autocratic but do not acknowledge when it is he who is responsible for some of the young players coming through the ranks at the moment. The coaches at youth level work hand in hand with Wenger focusing mainly in developing these players. That said, some people really… Read more »

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