It’s early days but one has to take a bobble hat off to Freddie Ljungberg thus far, because if he is under pressure in the hot seat at the Emirates, he isn’t really showing it.
Emery’s press conferences were something of an ordeal especially at the end, but Ljungberg has replaced the Pythagoras type analysis of the game with a refreshing simplicity and honesty.
He keeps his goals reasonably small at this stage and appears to be allergic to major changes. The mention of ‘small building blocks’ is an indication that he knows that this job is going to be based on baby steps rather than giant strides fills one with hope.
After the Norwich game, Ljungberg said he was looking forward to working on tactics in training with his players and underlined a unity without actually having to say it. He is of course, being given an easy time by the media at the moment, but in six games time and with results going against him, it may be more intense.
However, he looks and sounds equipped for any eventuality. He is calm, considered, intelligent and eloquent and comes across as an emerging coaching talent.
His immediate challenge after Emery was to raise spirits, free the players from their tactical shackles and allow them to play with freedom. There were some improvements against Norwich, but he will be hard pressed to resolve the most obvious concern, Arsenal’s brittle defence.
He has strikers in abundance and can get his creative players to a level that he needs. He has an excellent defensive midfielder and solid keeper/shot stopper, but he lacks a defence.
Emery tried the various combinations available and none have been consistent this season. Ljungberg knows that he may not be able to fix it in the interim and possibly before the summer, unless he unearths a gem from the ranks of his academy who has the ability to gel with William Saliba.
The side we saw at Norwich may possibly just be his opening gambit, he has a flurry of games against Brighton, West Ham, Standard Liège and Manchester City on the horizon and will need to refresh the squad to get results by finding the balance that evaded Emery.
Ljungberg should also remind himself that the goodwill of supporters doesn’t last forever even if you are a fan favourite. Social media was once again awash with negativity after the Norwich result.
When I suggested that Ljungberg should be judged on the next ten games, the reply was less than supportive:
‘Ten games with this shitty team selection and tactics. After 10 games arsenal should be competing with Watford for relegation’
‘A better coach can’t play in the first eleven with some stupid players like Guendouzi chambers and mustafi that is one of joke coach’
But it appears that Manchester United’s Ole Gunner Solskjaer is under increasing pressure as we enter the end of year managerial merry go round.
Fans are now calling for change:
@wickedchandy said: “Sack this Norwegian fraud. Unbelievable, showing faith in a manager who has not achieved anything is insanity.”
That was one of the more charitable comments and it illustrates that many fans are looking for a quick and unrealistic fix to the sides problems. Hopefully, Freddie will find the answers.