Earlier today The Times reported that Freddie Ljungberg was to be promoted to the first team coaching staff ahead of the new season.
The Swede has been in charge of the U23s this season, presiding over an excellent crop of young players, some of whom will be hoping they’re given a chance to impress at first team level.
The connection to Freddie might well work in their favour as the club look to focus on how Academy players can be more frequently integrated, but of course it leaves a gap and a job that needs to be filled.
According to Charles Watts at Goal, the man to do that is Steve Bould who has been part of Unai Emery’s first team coaching staff this season.
The 56 year old has often been criticised for the team’s defensive instability, despite the fact he has never been responsible for that side of the team, and performs broader coaching duties than simply drilling a back four/back three/whatever.
Bould began his career as a coach at youth levels, and was promoted to Arsene Wenger’s assistant when Pat Rice retired. When the former boss left, he was retained to provide some continuity and to give Emery a presence on the training ground who knew the players as the Spaniard built his own relationships and judgements of them.
The report says he’ll work closely with Per Mertesacker with regard to player development and progression, and with some real talent emerging from the Academy, strong connections between the first team and youth set-ups make a lot of sense.
It’s a move that makes sense, and it also feels as if the Ljungberg promotion is something of a succession plan, giving him first team coaching experience but without him being too closely tied to Emery if and when a change needs to be made to the role of Head Coach.