Unai Emery never connected with fans – Freddie Ljungberg has already won that battle


Freddie Ljungberg took over the reigns at Arsenal with a smile and a defiant message to the players.

Ljungberg delivered a rallying cry to the squad before taking his first training session as he told them they can still make the top four this season.

And, perhaps more importantly, Ljungberg has lifted the whole mood throughout the club because he is a hugely popular figure and could not be a bigger contrast to Unai Emery.

Ljungberg tweeted: “However long I oversee Arsenal for, I will give everything I have to put smiles on faces again. We have a busy few weeks ahead and the team needs your support. Let’s get to work!”

Maybe it is no wonder Arsenal have put Ljungberg in charge because if you look at what Frank Lampard has done at Chelsea this season and what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did at Manchester United last season it is a great advert for club legends.

Ljungberg never hinted he was manager material

Solskjaer lifted United last season from the anger and frustration of a fed-up Jose Mourinho, taking charge in December.

It has been more difficult since Solskjaer was made permanent but all Arsenal want at the moment is that similar lift because they have a squad far, far better than their current position suggests.

Equally, Lampard has been superb at Chelsea and is arguably further down the road in his managerial career because he was in charge of Derby last season.

Now Lampard has embraced Chelsea’s youth set-up, he has brought in young players and got them playing with style and flair again. Whisper it quietly, but it’s actually ok to like Chelsea these days.

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That again, is what Arsenal hope Ljungberg can bring. Make no mistake, few would have regarded Freddie as a future Arsenal manager in his playing days.

Ljungberg took his first session as interim boss on Friday

Fabulous player, his runs from midfield… his goals. He was an Invincible, he was huge in 2002, scoring goals for fun. He was brilliant.

But when it came to football he often seemed more interested in fashion, he always had a mischievous grin on his face and was such a character.

Brilliant player, obviously. But managerial material? Few would have thought that in his playing days.

And there will still be doubts over whether Ljungberg has enough managerial experience, whether he has the tactical know-how and whether he will end up suffering the same issues as Solskjaer.

However, there is a feeling that Arsenal will give Ljungberg a chance and there is so much goodwill towards him.

There is no bad feeling towards Emery who made a point of taking his time at the training ground to say his goodbyes and went with dignity and good grace.

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But Emery’s main problem was that he never connected with the fans or indeed people at the club and that is why Ljungberg is an instant hit.

Ljungberg has also championed young players like Bukayo Saka who singled out the Arsenal legend as an inspiration when he broke into the first team this season.

But Arsenal also have a squad full of talent which is under-performing as they have a German international keeper in Bernd Leno, potentially two of the best full backs in the Premier League with Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney and a World Cup winner in Mesut Ozil.

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The strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are one of the best forward lines in the country and yet performances on the pitch showed that the players had lost faith in Emery.

Arsenal are way better than their league position and recent results, you cannot just be a cheerleader but, as Solskjaer showed last season and Lampard instilled, the sense of fun and excitement has immediately returned.





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