The Freddie Ljungberg / Steve Bould Job Swap

Thoughts on the coaching team re-shuffle

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Ljungberg and Bould: Musical chairs

Those who can recall Steve Bould being promoted to Arsene Wenger’s number 2 (to replace Pat Rice) back in 2012 will remember that Bould was at the time the youth team coach. He was well-rewarded for taking a job he reputedly didn’t actually want – perhaps aware that his opportunity to coach might be more limited working alongside Arsene Wenger. Listening to some of Bould’s former colleagues over the years since, that certainly seems to have been what happened. Nevertheless, when Arsene was told he would be stepping down at the end of the 2017-18 season, his number 2 was on a significant wage – around the £35,000 a week mark. Wenger paid his loyal acolytes well, and Bould never spoke out of turn, even if at times his body language told a different story.

Bould could have gone with many of Wenger’s backroom team last June, but survived the night of the long knives that was administered in ruthless fashion by Ivan Gazidis. I’ve heard that one of the reasons that Bould was retained was that Unai Emery did have meetings with certain of Wenger’s coaching staff and Bould told him the truth about the players he was inheriting. It concurred with Emery’s own research on the players and the new head coach was impressed enough to keep Bould on for the remaining year of his contract. Jens Lehmann was one that did not survive the cull.

If there was a belief that Bould would finally be given the opportunity to drill some George Graham style defensive discipline into the back line, it was mistaken. Even if using the the best betting app, anyone betting on an improvement in Arsenal’s defending would have been sorely disappointed. Although Emery allowed his coaches input, it seemed that only the men he brought with him were actually doing it. There was little difference in Bould’s contribution compared to the six seasons working with Wenger. On matchdays his touchline duties seemed restricted to doing the admin with the fourth official for the substitutes. He cut a sorry figure. Still, on £5,000 a day, who wouldn’t swallow their pride?

His contract expired at the end of May, and the club could have let him go. However, I suspect the job swap with Freddie Ljungberg is happening for two reasons.

Firstly, cost-cutting. Ljungberg will not be on Bould’s wages, not least because Emery already has Juan Carlos Carcedo as his main assistant. Ljungberg may be joining the first team coaching staff but I doubt he will be getting Bould’s job title of first team assistant head coach. Additionally, Bould will now take charge of the under 23s, on a lower wage than he was getting. Bould could, of course, seek to spread his wings and take charge of a lower division club, but his wages would most likely be less than he will be getting at Arsenal, and the job security is almost non-existent. In a sense, his opportunity to take charge of the younger players will demonstrate whether or not he can actually still cut it as a coach after years of relative inactivity.

Secondly, the promotion of Ljungberg may well be tied in with a club decision to utilise more of their Academy produce. That is down to financial necessity financial necessity. Ljungberg will know the players that may become more regular first teamers over in the next season or two having worked with them already. In truth, the club are probably covered for numbers where coaches are concerned. They could have released Bould and left Ljungberg where he was, so the assumption must be that he has something to bring to the table and will presumably be given the opportunity to do more coaching than Bould did.

It’s sad though, that Bould - it seems – was never given the opportunity to work for an extended period with the first team under either Wenger or Emery. Although perhaps he isn’t that great at imparting the knowledge he picked up as a player. Who knows? You would have thought Emery would have given him the chance to show his abilities as a coach. Maybe be did. One thing is beyond doubt. Arsenal’s players need some work done on the defensive side of their game. In the last season under Arsene, they conceded 51 Premier League goals. In Emery’s first, exactly the same. It’s the reason your writer cannot see any good reason for continuing with Emery for another year. We’re surely in for more of the same next season. Is Freddie going to improve the defence? Exactly. Even allowing for the injuries to Bellerin and Holding, Emery still had six international defenders to select from.

Assuming, a year from now, Emery and his team are given their cards, it will be interesting to see if the club retain Ljungberg, as they have done with Bould. In the meantime, we’ll see Steve Bould the coach once more, for the first time since 2012. Perhaps he can develop some defenders for the first team…


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  1. markymark

    Jun 13, 2019, 13:22 #114136

    There was a really good article a few days back in the Guardian with the Brighton coach. He was saying that Managers fear dressing room kick offs and disorder when they intergrate the youth . I suppose players spend their whole time dealing with performance pressure , desperate to break through that when they get their its pull up the drawbridge time. It’s not something I gave much thought to but it may answer classic supporters questions of why so and so isn’t given a chance. Not saying it’s right by the way. Peter 8 new signings would send us to relegation . The morale would collapse and it would be 8 strangers in a team of 11. 2 to 3 signings max for first team players. Maybe 4 at a push.

  2. peter wain

    Jun 13, 2019, 11:55 #114135

    Unless we sign 8 new players we will be looking at the bottom end of the table. We must sign defenders and not wingers. I cannot understand how that is so obvious and yet we are linked to Zaha/ Carrasco etc.

  3. markymark

    Jun 12, 2019, 16:28 #114133

    Darren Burgess fitness coach has been sacked. Looks like he’s getting the blame for end of season tail off

  4. peter wain

    Jun 12, 2019, 11:59 #114131

    the problem is the owner who needs to go. It is pathetic to say we are skint and cannot afford a decent transfer budget. Stan was ok buying a farm in the US for 500 million dollars. All we want is a budget like that to buy at least eight players and get rid of the dross that has built up. We need a new back four with some quality centre halves not second rate rubbish like Mustaphi. How can anyone have watched him and thought he could play. I bet it was the same scout who found us fatty Santos. The only Brazilian footballer who could not trap a bag of cement and we bought him. Our dealings in the transfer window have been really awful. We pay big money for ageing overated dross with no sell on value and give them wages for superstars and then sit back and watch them play like Ozil. or Aweboi or Xakha or Guendozi. I would like to change the manager but who could we attract with a measley budget of £40 million. No for as long as the yank and his family are involved with Arsenal we cannot win anything and may even go down.

  5. itsRonagain2

    Jun 11, 2019, 22:01 #114130

    RK. Yes, Rafa s a very pragmatic coach who knows how to drill players. I used to say he wd have been a fit for AFC too. Now though? Not sure. Too long in the wilderness perhaps? Maybe the games passed him by same as Wengo and Mourinho to different extents. Too old to change now I guess and he’s suited to doing as he’s doing perhaps. No real pressure and making do. I don’t think he d be well received by the touristy Tarquins who go home games now either. He’s not glamorous enough. That was what happened at Chelsea for him tho their fans are notoriously up themselves and in the main cretinous I accept. If the Dickster eventually falls in his sword or perhaps resigns at some stage it beggars belief who would follow him.

  6. itsRonagain2

    Jun 11, 2019, 21:46 #114129

    Hi lads. Marky. It would be nice as you say to pick up a Bould or a Winterburn type but today I’m not sure such driven players exist. If they did they still need a Coach to get best from them. In today’s game both players would be suspended for half the Season anyway! Good point to raise about whether the existing defenders are as bad as they look. I think not. They’ve had yrs of gung ho and the defenders have been hung out to dry for years and there’s been no defensive shield there since Gilberto left. To have been anything other than dodgy would have been a miracle. Mustafis desperation style is usually because he’s been left high and dry. He’s got a big heart. Can’t say the same about Kischielny. That man has always been soft and lacking courage in my view. These are just 2 examples. They’re has been some poor lumbering oxes play for the club though obviously this last 12 yrs. No need to name them.


    Jun 11, 2019, 18:46 #114128

    I don't envy Dick one bit in this Window. Realistically, we need to get the majority of the biz done by the end of this month & with unknowns, journeymen etc. having figures of £20-40 mill being quoted & with no Director of Football in place, how can this end well? He is on a licking to nothing & I would go for a rebuild based more on youth than "proven" names signed from slower/softer leagues than the PL. But as Marky says, Dick won't have the luxury of yet another underachieving season which fail Stanley's minimal financial targets which have no relationship to actually winning anything.

  8. Radfordkennedy

    Jun 11, 2019, 18:37 #114127

    Hi Ron..Mark...yes I totally agree Ron we are not the pull we once we're, and because of that we will have to become a selling club to raise sufficient funds to do the necessary rebuild, and that could mean selling a few of the more talented players.We have got to start again at the back ,and I'f you remember I wanted Rafa to come in because he places great store in building from the back,if UE is not able to buy the best or able to coach sufficiently it may take someone like Rafa to do it ,if he came in it might send a more attractive message to the better players

  9. markymark

    Jun 11, 2019, 16:20 #114126

    ItsRon2 - we need to go back to creating the McGuires of this world don’t we. Do you remember those guys we bought from Stoke and Wimbledon ? Quite a defence wasn’t it! It can be done again we just need a pragmatic coach . Let’s hope Emery responds

  10. markymark

    Jun 11, 2019, 16:14 #114125

    Peter Wain - I and I think 95% of the site agree with you on building on a solid defence . However I reckon he feels our change of phase play is too slow ( I witnessed this against Brighton recently ) he wants us to whip the ball in quickly and break with force. Quite frankly I’m bemused by Barcelona wanting Saed as he can’t hit a barn door with a cross. However the issue of style of play still comes into it. I keep on hearing about chameleon football moving from counter to press. The problem is no one in world football does this. Its either go gegen press (Liverpool )or counter ( like the Spuds ) . Our players are confused. I still don’t know if we actually have bad defenders as oddly a number of them are internationals . They do appear confused and left with great big holes to fill. I think Tierney could be bought relatively cheaply and looks good. Carrasco looks a risk but a combo of wingers could at least add pace and pressure. Mitty and Özil are simply to slow for the Prem.

  11. itsRonagain2

    Jun 11, 2019, 16:01 #114124

    R/K - lets be brutally honest, if any of us was McGuire, would we join Arsenal? Yes, theres an element of a pull to it as we re obviously bigger than Leics but Arsenal arent going to win any races now for players such as he. We ve fallen too far and for too long the club has allowed it to happen. Players arent daft, they know where its happening. In fact any CH worth his salt would think twice about joining us knowing that he would be expected to be all things to all people and to on his own hold together the frame of a defence thats been shaking like a cardboard greenhouse for donkeys years. Its a hiding to nothing job unless AFC were going to bring in 2 or 3 similar quality other defenders. We couldn't match the packages he ll be offered elsewhere.

  12. Radfordkennedy

    Jun 11, 2019, 15:27 #114123

    If we are that skint I wouldn't hesitate to cash in on some perceived assets in Auba and Torreira and go and get Maguire and Tierney ,if we are to cut our cloth then In my opinion we could do worse than those 2 CB's from Brighton very impressed with their attitude and application,I'd rather lesser lights with prem experience than another gamble from a euro 2nd tier

  13. peter wain

    Jun 11, 2019, 11:28 #114122

    why are wee being linked to Carrasco. We need defenders not wingers. If we have limited funds concentrate them on the defence . We have Nelson and other young player. What we do hot have is a quick centre half good in the air.

  14. itsRonagain2

    Jun 10, 2019, 22:09 #114121

    I think most of us being honest, who are backing the Dickster must admit also to having some reservations about him tactically, motivationally and also perhaps most importantly, as to whether he actually has a plan and if he has, whether or not he can give AFC an identity to our play. I m with Marky regarding his willingness to blood too many of the younger players. He ll go with 1 or 2 out of necessity but he ll also buy in 1 or 2 40 odd million quid journeymen.

  15. markymark

    Jun 10, 2019, 20:09 #114120

    Pauljames - if I’m right and I hope not. He’ll bottle playing the youths as he knows no top 4 no contract extension.

  16. Pauljames

    Jun 10, 2019, 19:51 #114119

    Great big gaping holes in our defence and it would appear our first signing of the summer will be a Belgian winger, blocking the progress into the first team of Reiss Nelson.Why do I get the feeling the Dick era is not going to end well.

  17. GoonGer

    Jun 10, 2019, 19:42 #114118

    Six international defenders to choose from and Dick bought one of those, with Bellerin and Holding starting most games until they’re injuries. Emery hardly played Ozil all season until Ramsey got injured and that’s when everything went pear shaped. Our top 6 record must be the best it has been in years, and we should’ve beat the Spuds away. I have total faith in him, he isn’t stupid. He has no money (which is a joke) until he gets rid of Wengers duds(easier said than done). And most of his signings have done well, no one has suggested getting rid of any of them!?

  18. GoonGer

    Jun 10, 2019, 19:41 #114117

    Six international defenders to choose from and Dick bought one of those, with Bellerin and Holding starting most games until they’re injuries. Emery hardly played Ozil all season until Ramsey got injured and that’s when everything went pear shaped. Our top 6 record must be the best it has been in years, and we should’ve beat the Spuds away. I have total faith in him, he isn’t stupid. He has no money (which is a joke) until he gets rid of Wengers duds(easier said than done).

  19. markymark

    Jun 10, 2019, 16:06 #114115

    I for one am glad the emotion over the manager is no longer there . I hated Wenger over he last 5 years but the opposite to this were blind individuals who couldn’t even acknowledge that they wanted to keep Wenger out of sentiment. So we had constant ludicrous postings demanding our loyalty like some tinpot DDR regime before the wall came down. The key point is , he ( Unai ) only needs us for his personal redemption. Because if he messes up here he’s back to mid table Spanish clubs. We only need him to put us back in the top 4. Really it’s as brutal as that. My fear is he will avoid blooding youth due to the pressure of reaching top 4. However if he does succeed then the relationship starts to build. I reckon Arsenal wouldn’t ditch in year 1 as they want to send out a message they honour contracts ( exception would be relegation threat )

  20. itsRonagain2

    Jun 10, 2019, 16:03 #114114

    Don's dead right there. Emery cant for one minute be judged, hung drawn and quartered yet on the basis of this Season having worked with what Wengo left him. Its been like being asked to finish a sculpture but only having been left with a toffee hammer and a cold chisel to work with.

  21. Don Howe

    Jun 10, 2019, 14:58 #114113

    In the end people drive standards. Bould couldn't do it. Ljungberg might if only out of Swedish bluntness. I'm pleased to see him there. I disagree with those who don't want to give Emery another season, but I will never put my faith in football management again. After 35 years in the law and ten running my own business I have learned that the people who actually know what they are doing are VERY few and far between, so if the chaps are right about Emery then fair play to them, they spotted a mistake before I did. My view for what its worth is that he isn't Wenger ( thank goodness) and he appears to have some nous and fight in him.

  22. RobG

    Jun 10, 2019, 12:34 #114110

    Let's be realistic, the call to ditch Emery after one season, especially one where we actually improved, albeit not enough, was never going to happen. This time next year we will see what the verdict is, as his contract can be ended or extended as the Club decides. The one big plus this coming season is that Smith-Rowe, Beilek, Nelson, Willock and Holding will - assuming injuries allow - be given a run in the team. They have to be, given the restricted transfer budget. So a virtue from a necessity will be the theme for 2019/20 season. We will see if they are up to it.

  23. markymark

    Jun 9, 2019, 17:48 #114109

    So here we go in the crazy world of football. Apparently the Sheikhs who are going to take over Newcastle ( though not a penny has actually been seen yet) will begin talks with Mourinho. This does not surprise me at all as Rafa is many things but he’s not got the PR bandwagon going for him. If this did play out , surely he’s got to be a great option for Arsenal?

  24. markymark

    Jun 8, 2019, 19:13 #114108

    Yes sad to hear of Justin’s parting . It is no age. I gather he’d just been on a recent flight . It’s actually worrying the number of times I’ve heard of people collapsing with heart attacks shortly after flying. My father was one. RIP to him and condolences to his family

  25. The Man From UNCLE

    Jun 8, 2019, 18:46 #114107

    Sorry to hear about Justin Edinburgh. 49 is no age. Condolences to the family and friends.

  26. markymark

    Jun 8, 2019, 15:11 #114106

    I’ve decided I’m going to write all my postings into notepad first. Check them for typos before posting. How Apple Editing software changed ‘deal’ to ‘desk’ is beyond me and I’m pretty sure I checked it before pasting. Anyway apologies for the typo

  27. markymark

    Jun 8, 2019, 09:38 #114105

    John F - it’s one of the things that has been so disappointing about Dick. I also fear with effectively 10 games to keep his job . The youth will be frozen out. Better in his mind to bring in some old cheap pro. However the Litchensteiners of this world cannot desk with the pace and intensity. Far better in my mind to go out with a youthful intergrated side . If it ultimately fails he’d still go out with more plaudits. On a Ron2 point. I think you’re right mate he went all out for the Europa and let 4th place blow up in his face. We often moan about exec intervention but I think with 10 Matches to go it should have been made very clear to him points in the board were of equal importance . In my view poor game play by Unai.

  28. John F

    Jun 8, 2019, 08:45 #114104

    At least as you say Kevin Freddie can bend the ear of Dic k about the young players coming through and hopefully stop the purchase of any 2nd rate players that we appear to be linked with.The bad news that I read yesterday is that Arsenal are planning to cash in on Chambers, the player of the year for Fulham.I can not understand the thinking behind this if true as he had an excellent season as a DM and can cover the back line .It would make no sense that a home grown player is sacrificed for a cheap import.

  29. TonyEvans

    Jun 7, 2019, 20:08 #114103

    Hi Ron - you would think the players would have motivated themselves to put a shift in to secure a top four spot, having got themselves in to a position where it looked a virtual certainty - whatever Emery’s thought processes were at the time. I’m not convinced by him at all but I think he’s nailed on for one more year at the helm so we had better get used to it! Doesn’t bother either of us unduly now though does it - thankfully.

  30. itsRonagain2

    Jun 7, 2019, 16:19 #114102

    Hi Tony - if pushed on the issue of those last few games, i d say the Dickster aborted the top 4 mission on purpose. Its hard to tell some times if Arsenal arent putting it in (apart from seeing Ozil) as theyre so average some times they can put it in and still look terrible, but in those last few games it certainly looked like the players couldnt give a f--k to me. It may have been Dicks arrogance in thinking his pedigree in the EL meant winning it again was nailed on and thus allowed him to 'prioritise' it. He certainly didn't factor in the Arsenal s--t soft underbelly factor if he did think that way. There was no reason at all why even this Arsenal team trying harder couldnt have won a few of those last games especially as that shower of N17 equally soft underbellied bottlers were busy showing the World that being Spursy is and will always be in that vile clubs dna.

  31. itsRonagain2

    Jun 7, 2019, 16:07 #114101

    ps to be frank, its looks to me as if the Dickster is equally if not more laisez faire in his attitude towards defending as Wengo was but we can at least give the Dickster the chance to get in a few of his own defenders before we cast judgement on him cant we.

  32. itsRonagain2

    Jun 7, 2019, 15:56 #114100

    i think all of the defensive coaching in the World wouldn't change poor players who have no defensive acumen like a few of ours. To be honest, you could put Baresi, Maldini and Adams into a club who preaches gung ho as a style and you wont get a tight defence. Open football = giving chances to the other team. A defensive coach cant impose defensive stability upon a coach who wants to attack attack attack. Its not possible. Defending starts from the front as Clough and Paisley and Howe etc preached. Our great back 4 wasnt them operating in isolation it was because the team supported them. Under Wengo, he put a barrier in front of them in PV4 and Manu. You either have a defensively inclined team or you dont. The only way you can have both is by having top class quality forwards and middle men who play to such a high level that the opponent barley gets a chance to attack them. The great Barca and Madrid teams could do this and to a lesser extent Man C, who ll never reach their pinnacle if they spend another billion on players to play in that over rated PL.

  33. Pauljames

    Jun 7, 2019, 13:59 #114099

    Deckchairs on the Titanic come to mind.....would kill for Freddie and Bouldy in their prime though !

  34. markymark

    Jun 7, 2019, 13:42 #114098

    Apparently Emery is holding an inquest into the end part of the season. It’s good he’s doing that but a really on it team would actually have an independent inquest

  35. TonyEvans

    Jun 7, 2019, 13:26 #114097

    Nos89 - I can't agree with your view that it's harsh judging the team on the final 5 games of the season. Seems entirely reasonable to me because, as usual, when the pressure is on Arsenal collapse like a badly built house of cards. There is absolutely no excuse for the Brighton and Palace results, and no Arsenal team should lose any final 4-1. Those final games might not tell the story of the whole season but they tell us more than enough about the fragile nature of this team - which often doesn't even see the plate, never minding stepping up to it! Still looks and feels very much like a Wenger team which is a damning indictment on Emery's first year in charge.

  36. Nos89

    Jun 7, 2019, 12:31 #114095

    With 5 league games to go, the season had looked on paper to be a relative success with 3rd place in our grasp and in the Europa League final. In those last 5 games the team shipped in 11 goals, dropping 11 points, yet it seems the season has been judged purely on the last 5 games of the season. It seems unfair to the manager that the previous 33 games and the success of reaching a European final has been denied to him by just those five games in which we conceded 21.5% of the total goals conceded during the league campaign. Maybe Bould will be able to work on the defensive capabilities of the academy players that were ingrained on him through playing alongside Keown, Adams and O'Leary who were coached by Don Howe, probably the greatest coach in Arsenal's history. Might make sense, but uncertain of what Freddie will bring to the first team as coach, although being a double league winning Invincible (and having his own song) may give him the extra kudos of being a big part of Arsenal's recent history.

  37. markymark

    Jun 7, 2019, 10:59 #114094

    It seems strange but then maybe the theory of continuing the link for the younger players holds some ground. Either way it didn’t happen when Graham turned to the youth and neither at UTD. I herd Freddy has been receiving good praise. Maybe therefore it’s strategic I.e if Unai is off at end of next season Freddy has had time to imbed . However doesn’t answer who is going to teach defence