Andries Jonker has given his first interview about his role as academy manager and you can watch it here. Below is a transcript:
Andries, welcome to Arsenal. how are you finding your new role?Interesting, that is the word because I have come into another culture, another society in England and another football society which is typical here and different to other countries. And I have entered the world of Arsenal so a lot of things happen.So what inspired you to take up the challenge here?When you have been working at top clubs in Europe, and I was lucky with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, then you also notice the difference with a level that is lower. You know the ambition in a top club, you know the atmosphere in a top club is all about winning and if it is a club I like with history, exposure then you can feel quite comfortable. I have found out about myself. At those clubs I have found myself very comfortable. Of course I was proud to be asked by Arsenal to be manager of the academy, and if you have that row of clubs - Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Arsenal - then you get the feeling I have to do this.And another aspect is that at Arsenal we bring players through early…Yes, you have and that is what is at Barcelona and what Louis [Van Gaal] brought to Bayern Munich. That is typical to Ajax and Dutch football, and I felt very comfortable with that. I knew it and when I spoke in the beginning with Ivan Gazidis and he explained to me the philosophy of the club, and later Arsene Wenger, I felt very at home with it. It was nothing strange to me - it felt like it was the way it has to be.There have been changes to the structure and you have brought some Dutch coaches in. Just tell us who is where and what those changes were made for…
"I think having an academy demands patience from everyone involved and conviction about the quality of the work you deliver"
I found out that Arsenal are working on two training facilities with the academy - one of them is Hale End, where the boys are until they are 16. One of the pieces of advice I got from people at Arsenal was to bring in a Dutchman because then there is always a certain influence of myself on the facility. I looked for people I can trust, reliable people, people with experience in educating other people, people who have experience in leading an academy. I brought Jan van Loon, who is coach of the under-16s and leading coach of Hale End.On the other hand there is London Colney, with under-18s and under-21s, and i had the same advice from Arsenal: bring in a Dutchman. So I brought in Frans de Kat who has the same qualifications as Jan. So I feel very comfortable - I know them both from back in 1990 when I started in the Dutch federation and they also started. So I know them for quite a long time, we have experienced a lot together and we worked together at Willem II in Holland. I think they are very able to do the things I ask. With the English guys I asked Liam [Brady], ‘What is your advice?’ and he said, ‘They are good - keep them.’ They are all there and I am trying to let them work together with the Dutch guys and so far the start was fine.In terms of style of play, is that going to be uniform all the way through and does it come from the first team?I think we should do that until a certain age, 15 or 16 years old, because there is a certain way of playing that we think is the best way to teach players how to play football. From that age on, they should learn how to win games. That is also where you can give coaches freedom, depending on their player group, of what way to play.
The other way is to make sure you have the players available in every age group who can play in the system we want to play with the first team. That is what I have to find out from Arsene - how much value he gives to us all playing in the same way. So far he doesn’t say a thing about it and I am just watching what sort of choices people make.Your job is a long term one, is it important for people to be patient and accept that change will evolve over time and will bring benefit in the long run?I give you an example, Liam Brady. [He was] 18 years at Arsenal and he had the patience to stay in the job and Arsenal also had the patience to leave him in his job. For sure there have been years when no players were presented to the first team, and years when it has been successful. That is the thing with youth, you have to be patient.
The manager, the staff and in fact the players have to wait for a chance and you need to have confidence in the choice the manager makes, because the manager of the first team has to make sure the team wins. If he thinks the chance is bigger without the youth players, he shouldn’t bring them [in] but if he thinks the chance is bigger with the youth team players, then please [take them]. I think having an academy demands patience from everyone involved and conviction about the quality of the work you deliver.
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