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Freddie Ljungberg – From Arsenal Invincible to Arsenal gaffer?


Over the last few days, reports have emerged of a switch-up in the Arsenal backroom team – Arsenal legends Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Bould will be swapping roles as manager of the under 23’s and first-team coach respectively.

Arsène Wenger famous signed Ljungberg from Halmstad for just £3m after watching him play a game on TV where Sweden defeated England in a Euro 2000 qualifier. Ljungberg went on to score from the bench in his debut against Manchester United.

Trading Halmstad’s blue for North London’s red

Freddie scored 46 goals in 216 games for Arsenal over a 9-year spell in North London which included the winning goal in the 2002 FA Cup final win versus Chelsea and also being one of the main contributors to the famous Invincibles of 2003/4.

Ljungberg’s work with the under 23’s has drawn praises from all over the Arsenal fan base with numerous youngsters improving and impressing in a campaign that saw the young guns win the Premier League 2, beating Liverpool u23’s to it by just 2 points.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to talk to Jeorge Bird (@JeorgeBird on Twitter) who runs popular Arsenal youth blog ( about Ljungberg and his impact on the youth team and his possible impact on the first team next season:

So the first thing I’d love to ask you is do you think Ljungberg has been moved to work with the first team because we’re planning to integrate a lot of this season’s u23 side into the first team this season?

“I think that is part of the reason. He certainly impressed with his coaching style in the second half of the season especially and of course, knows the players very well.”

Out of all the players that fans were excited to see progress this season like Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith-Rowe or Bukayo Saka it’s arguably been Joe Willock to make the biggest strides forward this season which was capped by an impressive cameo in the Europa League final – do you think he is at the level to make an impact in the first team this year?

“Yes, in fact, I think he should have been given more chances already. He developed a lot under Ljungberg and has become a much more effective player.”

What style of football has Ljungberg tried to play with the u23’s this season? Would you say it’s similar to Wenger, Emery or possibly unique to Ljungberg himself?

” It is quite similar to Emery’s style – playing out from the back, lots of pressing. He’s not afraid to change formation either.”

Ljungberg has often painted the picture of a cool customer off the pitch, is that the same when he’s on the touchline?

“Not always. He tends to argue with the officials a lot, although he doesn’t really criticise his own players and is very encouraging of them.”

I understand this is a hard question to answer, but if hypothetically the club were grooming Freddie to take the reigns off the first team after Emery would you have any initial thoughts about that?

“I think Ljungberg is definitely an option worth considering. He may be rather inexperienced in coaching terms but he has some very interesting ideas and can get the best out of players.”

Ljungberg is moving up the pecking order

Ljungberg will now be moving into his third role at the club after coaching the under 15’s and under 23’s and after impressing in both roles it’ll be interesting to see how he fares now he’s working with the senior squad.

Many people view Mikel Arteta as the most likely successor to Pep Guardiola when he eventually departs Manchester City and it could be the case that Ljungberg is viewed in a similar way with the Arsenal hierarchy.

A massive thank you again to Jeorge for your insight and be sure to follow @JeorgeBird on Twitter and keep up to date with for all the latest of Arsenal’s academy. The latest blog is on what youth prospects could be promoted to the first team this summer and it’s well worth a read.

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