When Freddie Ljungberg left Arsenal to follow Andries Jonker to Wolfsburg, Arsene Wenger made him promise that he’d come back to the club at some point in the future.
“We gave him permission to go, but with a promise that he will come back if there’s a possibility to come back here,” Wenger told Arsenal.com in March 2017.
“Overall, I think it’s part of his education to become a coach, to have this kind of experience. Hopefully we can use that later at Arsenal.”
The Frenchman may have left the building, but the Swede has been good to his word with the club confirming that he’ll be in charge of the Gunners under-23s this year.
The appointment is an exciting one, especially for our new head of the Academy, Per Mertesacker.
“It’s great to have Freddie back at the club,” reflected the BFG. “He brings great footballing experience and the highest possible levels of enthusiasm, energy and encouragement for our young professionals.
“He understands the club’s values and how important it is to give young players the opportunity to grow and develop.
“When Freddie left for Wolfsburg it was with the club’s blessing and with a return to Arsenal some day in mind.
“Everyone knows Freddie loves the club and we look forward to him developing his career with us.”
We’re sure to head more from Freddie about his philosophy, but this snippet from an interview in September 2016 is very interesting.
Speaking to City A.M, he said: “My vision is I want to go as far I possibly can. But I’m trying to earn my stripes and do it the right way.
“I was offered roles as assistant here and assistant there, but I spoke to Arsene about things and it’s important to make your own mistakes and be the one making the decisions.
“Now I have my own staff of six people and I need to manage them and for them to feel like a group pulling in the same direction.
“It’s important to give people ownership and I’m not the headmaster telling people what to do. I do 60 hours a week, just trying to coach, coach, coach and get experience and build from there.”
It certainly looks as though he’s going in the right direction.