Following the dismissal of Unai Emery earlier today, Freddie Ljungberg will take charge of Arsenal for Sunday’s trip to Norwich and until the search for a new head coach is complete.
In a statement, Arsenal said, “We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach. We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward.
“The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”
The Swede was a fan favourite in his playing days, winning two doubles, scoring an FA Cup final goal against Chelsea which left a young John Terry flat on his stupid face, and was, of course, a key member of the Invincibles who went through a league season without losing a game in 2003-04.
As a player he had spells at West Ham, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire, Celtic, Shimizu S-Pulse and Mumbai City following his departure from Arsenal, and soon moved into the coaching world.
He was part of the youth set-up at Arsenal under former Academy boss Andries Jonker, and left with the Dutchman to be one of his assistants at an ill-fated spell at Wolfsburg.
When that ended, he was brought back into the fold by new Academy Manager Per Mertesacker, who said, “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.”
He took charge of the U23s in the 2018-19 season, and won plaudits for the performances and the way he developed young players like Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and others.
His relationships with those players saw him promoted to the first team coaching staff in the summer of 2019, as they have been a significant part of the first team squad throughout this campaign.
He now faces the task of turning around a team whose form has been dismal for most of this season, no small job for a comparatively inexperienced coach.
We wish him the best of luck, let’s hope we’re ready for Freddie.
Speculation over a permanent appointment is likely to dominate the Arsenal headlines over the coming days/weeks, with the likes of Mikel Arteta, Nuno Espirito Santo, Mauricio Pochettino, Patrick Vieira, and others in the frame.