Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Freddie Ljungberg on fractured Arsenal: 'I have to put smiles on faces again'

Interim coach determined to give struggling club a lift after Unai Emery sacking

Arsenal's interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg is determined to put smiles on faces at the club. AP
Arsenal's interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg is determined to put smiles on faces at the club. AP

Freddie Ljungberg wants to give Arsenal a lift on and off the pitch after replacing sacked coach Unai Emery.

Emery was dismissed on Friday following a run of seven games without a win and a string of performances the club said had not been at the required level.

Ljungberg was immediately announced as interim head coach, stepping up from his role of assistant in an attempt to address an alarming slide.

Emery lost his job 18 months after replacing Arsene Wenger and leaves behind a disgruntled fanbase and a fractured squad.

But Ljungberg - who made 325 appearances for the Gunners as a player and lifted two Premier League titles - is now pledging to bring back good times to the club.

He tweeted a picture of himself taking training and wrote: "However long I oversee Arsenal for I will give everything I have to put smiles on faces again. We have a busy few weeks ahead and the team needs your support. Let's get to work!"

A 2-1 Europa League defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in front of a sparsely populated Emirates eventually proved the end for Emery - who was sacked after arriving to take training at London Colney on Friday.

Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham travelled to the United States ahead of the Frankfurt game to talk to owner Stan Kroenke - with the decision to relieve Emery of his duties the upshot of their meeting.

Emery paid tribute to the club's fans in an open letter on the Arsenal website, saying he "would have liked nothing more than to have achieved better results for you".

"To all the fans, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me to understand and feel the greatness of Arsenal," he wrote.

"To all of you who have supported us from every corner of the globe, all of you who have come to the Emirates, all of you who have waited in the rain and cold just to greet me after a game. I want to tell all of you that I have worked with passion, with commitment and with effort."

He also thanked his players, adding: "They have always honoured the shirt they wear. They deserve your support."

Ljungberg's first game will see him take charge of Arsenal at Norwich on Sunday and he can remain in charge for as long as deemed necessary as he holds a UEFA pro licence.

Meanwhile, the likes of Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, Leicester's Brendan Rodgers, Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta and Carlo Ancelotti of Napoli have all been linked with the role.

Updated: November 30, 2019 01:55 PM

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