Interview

'It's a great honour... I feel excitement'

Freddie Ljungberg has spoken for the first time after being named as our interim head coach.

The Invincible led first-team training on Friday and is now preparing to take charge of the side against Norwich at Carrow Road on Sunday afternoon.

We sat down with Freddie this morning at Arsenal Training Centre - and this is what he said:

on what it means to him to lead the team...
It's a great, great honour. I want to do as well as I can for this fantastic club and that's what I feel today. I feel excitement and I'll try to do a good job.

on his meeting with the players yesterday and what his message was...
No, I think what I say in the dressing room always stays there. But in general terms, I think we have some great players and of course we've had some problems. We haven't had some results and that's what we've got to try to address. But how we address that, I'll probably keep to myself.

on whether he will be animated on the sidelines...
Yes, of course. I think I get involved in the game. That's who I am. But at the same time, I try to step back and analyse the games. So it depends a little bit, so it can be a calm man or it can be a not-so-calm man. It depends!

on who will be assisting him...
That's something I will work on a little bit and we'll let you know when we feel we're ready.

on whether he has interest in a more permanent tenure...
For the moment it's for the future of the football club. I'm here to help the club as much as I possibly can and try to get a good atmosphere around the club and with the supporters and that's what I'm focusing on at the moment and then we'll see.

on his experience in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg...
That every manager is different. Different teams, different things and different ways to handle players, exercises and what they think is important and how their plan thinks. So for me, all those things are just learning points and that's what I've been trying to do, in my coaching life at least. To get points here and there and of course Bundesliga has a different football, so then you learn what the culture is from that country and what they think is important. It's just 'knowledge in the bank'.

on what his priorities are and what changes he will make...
Of course small things will change. I'm not going to do anything radical because I don't think that's the best thing to do. I'm not going to just go and smash things up. But I'm quite clear with what I think I want to try. At the same time, we have one training session until the game tomorrow so we have to be intelligent with what you try to change because it needs to stick as well.

on how he would you describe his approach to the game…
I've been at Arsenal for a long, long, long time, I like entertaining football but of course at the same time you can't concede goals. That's a tricky balance to find. For me, happy footballers play the best football. That's a part I learnt as a player, there is a time to work hard but at the same time we need to enjoy what we're doing. Often the players we have enjoy playing offensive football which makes them happy.
 
on whether his under-23 team scoring 48 goals in 22 games tells us about his style of coaching…
We looked in 2019 at some stats as well, I remember we kept a clean sheet in five games out of nine, as well, so we tried to defend as well, there are different ways of doing it.
 
on whether his experience of playing for the club will help him now… 
There's a game tomorrow, I hope I have the values of the club, I understand the club, I think from the inside. That gives me a help, 100 per cent. I have been here for 20 years, so it's very special to me. That's why I'm saying it's an honour to do this. When the club asked me to help them of course I said that's a given, I will try to help them as much as they need. We will see from there.
 
on what his message to the Arsenal fans is…
They are amazing fans, they are. We need them and the players need them. That's the main thing that I can say to them. We as players and coaching staff will do everything we can to make them happy, just enjoy the game.
 
on how confident he is about restoring a positive feeling around the club…
Of course I am confident, otherwise I wouldn't have taken it when they asked me to help. If I didn't feel I could help them I wouldn't have done it, so of course I am confident in that way. I really feel that this club can all be brought together and put some smiles on to people's faces again.