Freddie Ljungberg has the backing of Arsene Wenger, his former manager at Arsenal, as he continues his efforts to inject fresh momentum into the club’s season.
Ljungberg, 42, has been promoted from his role with the club under-23’s to take interim charge of the first team following the dismissal last week of Unai Emery. The Swede oversaw a draw at Norwich City last Sunday and will attempt to register his first victory when Brighton visit the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
The former midfielder is taking his first steps in management and, having enjoyed nine-trophy-laden years as a player under Wenger – a period that delivered two Premier League title and three FA Cups – Ljungberg is planning to make contact with the Frenchman who departed the north London club 18 months ago after a 22-year spell in charge.
“I really would like to speak to him,” said Ljungberg. “We’re in contact, I have not spoken to him (since taking over) but that’s on my list. It’s been quite hectic, but I’m very proud about this opportunity.”
Wenger, for his part, also believes it is an “opportunity” his former player needs to seize with both hands, and will be on hand to offer any advice required.
“I’m always happy to help my former players and my former club. And if he has that need, then of course I will be available,” replied the 70-year-old, when asked about Ljungberg’s intentions while at the annual meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), where he was attending in his new role as Fifa’s new lawmaking chief.
“I do not want to comment too much on Arsenal. My heart is with the club and I want them to do well. Freddie is fantastic and committed and he will want to do this job for a long time. So he has an opportunity. What you want in life is that opportunity. Let’s get him to work with his ideas and support him.”
As well as Wenger, Ljungberg admits his approach will also be influenced by Sven-Goran Eriksson, the former England manager who spent one-year in charge of Manchester City before leaving the club eleven years ago.
“Sven is very intelligent and I spoke to him a lot when he was the manager of England because he was watching our games,” said Ljungberg, of the last Swede to manage in the Premier League. “I know some stories of how he treated players and made them feel good and I’ve stolen some of those ideas. He was a great coach and I hope I’ll speak to him.”
Ljungberg’s primary aim is to end Arsenal’s dismal run of eight games without a win in all competitions. “What I try to focus on is going forward,” he said. “I’ve been here, I’ve done two training sessions now and I don’t want to talk about the coaches before. I think Unai did a great job and was a great leader, and a fantastic coach. That’s not for me to judge. I look forward.”