by Andrew Crawshaw
Yesterday morning 27/2/17 Arsenal FC announced that their Academy Manager – Andries Jonker was leaving with immediate effect to take over as manager at Bundesliga club VFL Wolfsburg.
It has also been reported that Freddie Lungberg who has been managing our U15 team this year and assisting with the U19s in their European games has also left to take up a new role with Andries.
These two will leave us with a couple of problems, one immediate the second slightly longer term. The immediate one will be to appoint a new coach to the U15s and I strongly suspect that this will be filled by one of our existing coaching staff. The longer term one will be to appoint a new head of our academy and that is rather more intriguing as it will quite possibly be interlinked with the position with Arsene Wenger come summer.
Andries joined us from Wolfsburg (where he was working as one of their assistant coaches) in the summer of 2014 and has overseen the major developments that have taken place in the Academy in the past three years.
In the short term I would expect Steve Gatting to step up to Head of Academy with Carl Laraman in turn stepping up from Assistant at U23 level to take over from Steve. In the longer term, I wonder if this is a position that Arsène might be interested in, after 20 years at the club I really can’t imagine him joining another club for a few years and we all know how he loves to identify and bring on young players. He also has a great interest in the workings of the Academy and was with the coaches at the televised U23 game last Friday.
To take over from Freddie Lungberg, I wonder if Kelly Smith might do it in for the next couple of months – probably not but it would be an interesting move. It might also be a post that would interest any of our other retired players (male or female) who is looking to gain management experience.
Last Season VFL Wolfsburg finished 8th in the Bundesliga. This year has not been good for them as after 22 games they lie 14th place, dangerously close to the relegation zone and massively under-performing compared with their expected position squad value. Only Monchengladbach (£137m), Shalke (£179m), Bayer Leverkusen(£232m) and Bayern (£473m) have higher squad values and all those in the relegation scrap around them have values less than 50% of their £134m.
|Pos||Team||Squad Value £m||P||W||D||L||+/-||Pts|
|12||FSV Mainz 05||66||22||8||4||10||-6||28|
|17||FC Ingolstadt 04||30||22||5||3||14||-15||18|
|18||SV Darmstadt 98||21||22||3||3||16||-28||12|
Andries will be the third manager of VFL Wolfsburg this season. Dieter Hecking was in charge until 17 October when he was replaced by Valerin Ismaël. With 12 games to go they are clearly hoping that this managerial change will be able to get underperforming players firing on all cylinders again.
Arsenal have wished Andries all the best for the future, I have a feeling that he may well need all the luck he can take with him.
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