Morning folks and happy Friday unto thee. We have some news amongst the barren wasteland of post season silence, although as much as many people online wanted it to be some sort of magical work of fiction and Kroenke was leaving the club and throwing his shares out of the plane over the Emirates as he left, that was clearly never going to happen.
So instead we got some insight in to some of the backroom changes and as had been widely expected we saw the announcement of Freddie being promoted to the first team, Bould moving back to the youth set up and Sal Bibbo taking on more responsibility from the ‘keepers side. Although what that is exactly still remains a bit of a mystery.
It’s an interesting move and clearly shows the regard in which Ljungberg is viewed within the club, but perhaps also is an acknowledgement that Steve Bould wasn’t quite doing it in the first team. That’s understandable; he was part of the Wenger regime, didn’t really look like he had any influence on Unai Emery’s side, so moving him away from first team duties makes sense.
But Freddie’s appointment is the one that will be everybody’s focus I think. He’s just steered the under-23s to a title and we all know how much the club has driven the “we’re going to be invested in our youth” approach in the last 12 months. Ivan ‘the terrible’ Gazidis said it when he appointed Emery and it was clear that whoever was coming in last summer needed to find a way to get more young players introduced to the first team.
To some extent that has happened but not really on any large-scale like we might have expected. Unai Emery – perhaps conscious that he’s got just a two year contract – clearly wanted to lay some groundwork early on for the club to pick up a trophy, any trophy, but what happened at the end of the season has marred his first season in charge. He didn’t rotate as often as he potentially could have towards the beginning of the season and questions are being asked as to whether more young players could have been given the opportunity earlier on in the season. And if that had happened, would we have had fresher players towards the end of the season, which could have helped us in the fight to return to the Champions League?
This appointment feels to me like a very pointed statement by the club and as if we didn’t need any other example of this, just look at what Raul said on the appointments:
The hardest part is always the transition from academy football to senior football. We already have good programmes in place but these staff changes will ensure our plans are even more robust and clear for every single player.
That seems pretty clear to me. Freddie is coming in because he knows these young players and he will be able to tell Unai chapter and verse about them. But if Unai doesn’t listen, if we have more pragmatism and situations where we’re seeing Elneny’s instead of Willock’s in the centre of the park, the pressure on him will intensify. Especially if results don’t go the way we all hope.
The club are telling Emery he is just here for the short term unless he can show some of these young players that they have a long term future at the club. This summer and when the tours start will be very interesting indeed. We won’t be able to tell much, but when we start getting sound bites from Emery, we’ll know just how much pressure he is under to weave the balance of youth and experience in to our first team.
Let’s all keep our eyes peeled for that one.
That’s about all I’ve got for today but before I depart I thought I’d point you in the direction of the GunnersTown Radio show on LoveSport last night, in which the lads talked about Geordie Armstrong, which is worth a listen.
Catch you all tomorrow.