Date:Monday July 23 2007
Well, if you haven't yet heard it, Freddie Ljungberg spoke earlier on today as to why he decided to leave Arsenal.
Freddie, a top-class pro and a loyal servant to The Arsenal during his tenure at the club, will be remembered for his red hair, his goals-from-nowhere and the fantastically timed runs that produced them (along with a great DB10 pass, more often than not!!!), his red hair, his debut goal against ManUre, his red hair, and his Pants modelling.
However, the Fredster sounded off in a statement carried by The Times, in which the Swedish captain declared: 'Two years ago when I signed my last contract we talked a lot about the future and about bringing great players to the club. Despite building the new stadium we wanted to stay top in England and do well in Europe. For me that didn't really happen.
'Other clubs came in for me last summer but I stayed because I wanted to stay loyal to Arsenal. But when Henry left this summer it felt like the end for me unfortunately. I felt like all the unbeaten players (from Arsenal's Premiership-winning 2003-04 side) had left but me. I wanted to be loyal but I felt like it was the right time.'
'When I spoke to the boss [Wenger] he wanted me to stay. There had to be something very, very special for me to leave.
'I'm coming here because I want to build a great team,' said Freddie. 'And why I want to join is because of Magnusson. He wants to bring them forward to be top of the country.
'He's willing to go to the transfer market to buy top players and mix them with players from the academy - West Ham have a great tradition for developing players through their academy. He wants to help take the club up and take them to the top in England. It's a big challenge for me.'
Well, where to start? First of all, I'd like to thank Fred for all he did for Arsenal.
Next up, I'd like to say that this sounds like the statement of a man who misses his mates. Fred has been at the club so very near to when Arsene first joined, he's seen many folk come and go, no doubt he would have seen several players depart, who no doubt felt that they didnt recognise and necessarily associate with the new players coming in around their midst. Perhaps that is what Fred is feeling now - a little alienated and threatened by the new young generation. More of that in a bit.
Secondly - Fred's comment about top players coming into the club, and staying top in England. Well, it's true we've not exactly been running away with the league the past couple of years, but that's been because Arsene has been restructuring the playing staff from top to bottom, from left to right. What began to truly emerge last season was the tremendously talented, incredibly young squad that Arsene has assembled. Not top players, not household names - well at least not yet. But you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be. Fred wasnt considered a top player when he arrived. But he became one - it reminds me of the Wenger comment to Vieira who once spoke to Arsene about where were the world class signings, to which Wenger retorted, 'But you weren't world-class when I signed you, Patrick!' The young players are already recognised outside of the club by other players , managers and fans alike as immensely talented. Barring the top 5-6 clubs in the luague, I reckon any club in Britain would love to take Johan Djourou on loan for the season. Traore already has many clubs sniffing around him this season, also. Bendtner appears to be quite a popular chap as well.
Which raises the next point - perhaps Fred felt he had to get out because he saw his playing time extremely limited this coming season. And I'm sure that if you were a professional footballer, you would just want to play and play as much as possible, and to be faced with an extended spell outside the first team, it would worry you and make you question things - namely, do you need to go elsewhere to ensure playing time. And As Fred is captain of Sweden, he can hardly afford to spend most of the season warming the bench, not if he wants to retain the national captaincy.
So now he's joined Wet Sham, and as you read above, The Eggman is He's willing to go to the transfer market to buy top players and mix them with players from the academy - West Ham have a great tradition for developing players through their academy. He wants to help take the club up and take them to the top in England. It's a big challenge for me.'
Well, here's the next quandary - it's true that the Irons do indeed have a very proud record of bringing through academy players into the first team. But if ol' Eggie is happy to bankroll the mass purchasing of players, how are all those academy graduates going to make their way into the team? I mean, if you've just splashed a few million of a player like Freddie Ljungberg, you're hardly going to find it easy to bring a young player in at his expense. This is the dilemma Arsene has been faced with for the past 3 seasons now, having to sell PV4, Super Bob, allowing Thierry to go (or deciding it was best for him to...) and now Fred. Not an easy thing, i should imagine. Maybe The 'appy 'ammers can tell us how they feel about it come further down the line into the season (which hasn't started yet, of course...).
For me, Fred's statement wasn't so much of a shot at giving the club a kicking, it sounded more like the outburst of someone who was extremely disappointed, the words of a person who realised that things weren't going to be the same anymore, and that he was faced with a decision that he didn't really want to have to take, yet had to for the sake of his career.
I still wish him all the best. Cheers for all you did for us, Fred.
Date:Monday July 23 2007
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