Freddie Ljungberg: ‘Great honour’ to lead Arsenal after Unai Emery exit

Ljungberg, who was Emery’s assistant, was put in interim charge of the Gunners on Friday morning after the Spaniard was sacked in the aftermath of the club’s worst run of results since 1992.

Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports ahead of the Gunners’ trip to Norwich on Super Sunday, Ljungberg, who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups at Arsenal, said: “It is a great, great honour, that is how I feel. I have this energy inside me and it is special.

“There is sadness obviously with what has happened with the club, but excitement too with what is coming up and the chance to play.

“It is just a great honour and that is what I told the players – you guys have to do the job, I can help and support, but for me, it is a great, great honour.

“I was proud, honoured that they trusted me to do it and deliver that. I felt excited because I feel we have some very good football players here and it is a great club. I felt excitement at such a big thing.”

Could Ljungberg take the job full-time?

The search for Emery’s full-time replacement has begun, with Max Allegri and Brendan Rodgers on the Gunners’ shortlist, though it is understood the club will not rush an appointment, such is their faith in their former midfielder.

Ljungberg has revealed no timescale has been set for his spell in temporary charge and played down any immediate designs on taking the reins permanently.

“They just said concentrate on the next game and do as good as you can and we will see from there,” he said. “For me, I will just concentrate on those players, we have a game [on Sunday] and I will try to do the best I can.

“For me, it is about the team and the club. Try to concentrate about the game [at Norwich], not the future, try and win that and a few other games and then we will see. For me, that is what I look at and everything else is totally irrelevant.

“At the moment, I am learning the trade and trying to do everything I can to improve myself – of course it is an honour that the club thinks I am able to take on this massive responsibility, but at the moment I am just concentrating on taking it game by game.”

Ljungberg, who has not yet confirmed his Arsenal captain, admitted the training ground mood was “strange” on Friday morning and said his focus was on lifting morale as the Gunners head to Carrow Road seeking a first win in eight games.

“There was a bit of a strange [atmosphere]… the players have had a coach for a long time, a good coach, and other coaching staff who have disappeared,” the former Sweden international, who had a short spell as assistant boss at Wolfsburg in 2017, said.

“It is a very cut-throat thing in football and players are of course emotional too, but what I tried to do was be as respectful as I could, and then when I trained the players – I was a player – I tried to do some exercises that brought a bit of excitement to make them not think too much and enjoy themselves and hopefully get them in a good mood.

“I have had experience of players and staff being really down and there are things in my opinion that you can do [to lift them], but at the end of the day if you play good football and get good results, there is nothing better to raise spirits.”

What’s next on the pitch for Arsenal?

Arsenal travel to Norwich on Sunday at 2pm in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports, while their last Europa League group-stage clash is at Standard Liege on December 12 at 5.55pm.

2019-12-01T12:51:17+00:00By |

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