When Guardiola was appointed senior Barcelona manager after Frank Rijkaard stepped down in the summer of 2008, Barcelona had been through two trophy-less seasons and, in the opinion of the new man, it was not a lack of talent that was the root cause.
The Spaniard was coming through the club’s B team and it looks similar to the current Arsenal situation and why Ljungberg would make sense for the club -at least for now.
“The team has been through a time when not everybody was as professional as they should have been,”
Guardiola apparently told the players, per Guillem Balague of the Telegraph, in their very first team meeting. “It is time for everybody to run and to give their all.”
Arsenal are in somewhat similar situation as the team has gone through a number of trophy-less seasons now but the difference remains the timing and consequential resuls in both situations.
Just like Barcelona (back then), Arsenal still have the talent that can challenge for titles or should at least be in the top four but proper management and guidance seems to be the problem as it stands.
For Emery, It’s looking more like a matter of “when” and not “If” he would be sacked with each passing day. Of course, many names have been thrown around for the Arsenal manager role in recent weeks. From Massimiliano Allegri to Eddie Howe to Mikel Arteta to Brendan Rogers and a host of many others.
However, as per a report from Daily Mail, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo is now the leading candidate to be named as the new permanent manager should Emery be given the sack – which is looking more than likely.
Nuno has jumped to the front of the queue to replace him due to the impressive outfit he has built at Wolves, who like Arsenal are in the Europa League this season.
Gunners director of football Raul Sanllehi enjoys a close relationship with Nuno’s agent Jorge Mendes, although Arsenal are aware that any move to bring in the Portuguese might have to wait until the end of the season.
That would leave the need for an interim manager to replace Emery if, and increasingly when, it becomes inevitable that his position at the club is untenable.
Based on all circumstances considered, Arsenal don’t necessarily need a “high profile” coach to turn things around but should be more intent on someone who understands the club and the values as well.
In that regard, Freddie Ljungberg would be the best possible candidate to take over if Emery does leave the club – regardless of the duration.
Obviously the likes of Allegri, Arteta and many more high profile names would not consider a mid-season move and to an extent, it ‘s not surprising Arsenal are supposedly turning to Nuno.
Ljungberg would be the best fit for the job as it stands based on his understanding of the whole situation right from the onset. Being a fan favourite from the famous invincibles squad, Ljungberg would find it very easy to integrate with the fans which is very key as Emery seems to be in the bad side of many supporters as it stands.
So bad that one of Emery’s speakings university students this week had to be cancelled due to ‘negative comments’ as per a report from Metro.
Also the Gunners have seen a lot of young players rise through the ranks this season and Ljungberg’s relationship with those players will definitely come in handy.
Being the former manager of the Arsenal U23 side, Ljungberg is the ideal go to person for the youngsters and a sense of understanding with their “manager” could yield to better performances.
Much more recently, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was full of praise for the Gunners assistant manager, crediting the Swede with much help and guidance in understanding his role, as quoted by Metro.
“There’s quite a few things [I have learnt from Ljungberg] really. He knows me as a winger, so attacking-wise he’s helped my game a lot.
“Defensively, I go to someone else to help me because they’re two different styles that I have to play.
“Him personally, he’s pulled me to the side a lot and has shown me different techniques and ways of beating players, ways of crossing the ball and shooting.
“It’s helping me and I’m happy to have him around because he’s such a big figure in the team.”
As well as helping Maitland-Niles on the training pitch, Ljungberg has also been credited with assisting Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka’s development during his role with Arsenal U23s last season.
Then the final issue would be the language barrier. Spare a thought for Emery who has tried his best to learn English since his arrival but It’s safe to say he would have had less problems had he been a fluent speaker.
A recent article by the Mirror claimed that some of the youngsters at the club poke fun at their boss at Arsenal’s London Colney training base.
And according to football.london, others are turning to Ljungberg for direction because they feel their boss “does not offer clear and consistent instructions. All pointing to the fact that a fluent speaker should be prioritized for the next manger, which all but adds to the many advantages Ljungberg would bring as the manger – even if it is on the short term.
Many decent names would continue to revolve around the Arsenal role but the state and delicacy of the current situation puts Ljungberg as the best solution to salvage the mess Unai Emery has made at the club.