Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Head Between Legs

If a man isn't willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he's no good~ Ezra Pound
Did he jump or was he pushed? Whatever the motivation behind Freddie Ljungberg's move across the capital- and there are many theories- the one thing that all parties seem to agree on is that the timing was right. The midfielder has signed on a three-year deal (with an option for an extra year) for an undisclosed fee - although it is thought it could rise to £3million - and anticipates a European challenge from his new club this season, but admitted it wouldn't be easy. "We need experience as the Premiership is the most difficult league in Europe. We need a good calm start," he said, referring to the controversial transfers of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez that disrupted the Upton Park club last season. Alan Curbishley said that he believes Ljungberg can help transform the club this season and that his experience will be crucial in helping them challenge for a top-10 finish. "Whenever he got the ball at Arsenal, he used to scare the life out of me. There's a hunger there. He wants to come and push West Ham on and be partly responsible for that," Curbishley said. "He understands the passion of the club and the passion of the fans. We have Lucas Neill [Australia] and Craig Bellamy [Wales], who are both captains of their national team, and now Freddie. They are all leaders and bring experience to the team."

Marc Isaacs, writing in The Telegraph, believes it was a combination of the uncertainty surrounding Wenger's long-term future at Arsenal and Henry's sudden departure to Barcelona that ultimately left the player to question his former club's ambition. "There were a lot of reasons why I wanted to leave Arsenal," admitted Ljungberg. "I spoke to the boss and he wanted me to stay, but when Henry left this summer, it unfortunately felt like the end and time for me to do something different. It made me a bit sad because all the players who had been in the unbeaten side [2003-04] had left the club. I had been there for almost 10 years and it's a big thing for me. I won almost everything there is to win and I look back with great memories." According to The Guardian, there was also a lot of uncertainty left hanging over the club by the departure of the vice-chairman, David Dein, and Ljungberg felt it made it an anxious time for all the players at The Emirates. "Of course it is a big thing in Arsenal and in the last couple of months with David Dein leaving, it's not been easy as a player," he said. "Maybe Arsène Wenger will have to do a lot more work because David Dein has left."

Six transfers from Arsenal to West Ham
  1. Nigel Winterburn- June 2000- free transfer
  2. Davor Suker- June 2000- free transfer
  3. Ian Wright- July 1998- £500,000
  4. John Hartson- February 1997- £3.3 million
  5. Stewart Robson- January 1987- £650,000
  6. John Radford- December1976- £80,000
On Lungberg's departure, Arsène Wenger said: "Freddie’s contribution to Arsenal Football Club was absolutely outstanding. His performances over the past nine seasons have been a major part of the Club’s successes during this time, especially in our 2002 ‘double’ year when he scored and created so many goals from midfield. Freddie is a winner and always gave absolutely everything when he played for this Club. He is an intelligent player and always combined this well with his fantastic fighting spirit. We thank Freddie for his contribution and wish him well for the future." While Wenger was uttering all the right words, Gary Jacob in The Times thinks Arsenal had made the Sweden captain available for transfer for nearly two seasons, after it became clear that a series of injuries had taken their toll on his body. The article states that he has lost some of his pace, and the vision of Dennis Bergkamp, who retired, to match his ability to time a run into the penalty area. He has scored only one league goal in the past two seasons, notes Jacob, compared with ten in the season before, and 12 in 2001-02.

Whatever the truth, Ljungberg’s departure - and the expected sale of José Antonio Reyes - means that there are only four players left from the Arsenal squad that went through the season unbeaten in 2003-2004. As Rob Smyth observed in his Guardian column yesterday: "One of life's greatest frustrations for the sports fan is that great teams never really get the time to bask in the glory they have earned. No sooner has a great team been anointed as, erm, great than fate sizes up the swingers of said team and gives them an unfettered shoeing." Arsenal's Invincibles never started a game together after their final league game in the 2003-04 season and, notes Smyth, perhaps the club's greatest era came to something resembling an official end with the sale to West Ham of 'pants model and increasingly pants footballer Freddie Ljungberg', the longest-serving player at the club and the last one to have played for both the 2002 and 2004 title-winning teams. Wenger's Arsenal will be remembered as aesthetes among philistines in many ways; truly a pleasure to watch, but also a side that ultimately struggled to cope with hardship and lacked mental strength - the final proof of which is that they've all done a runner since the ship started sinking. "I stayed because I wanted to stay loyal to Arsenal. But when [Thierry] Henry left this summer it felt like the end for me unfortunately," mused the Sweden international. It's a beginning for West Ham though, counters Smyth, and Ljungberg says he was impressed by 'crackpot conehead' Eggert Magnusson's vision of the future. "Why I want to join is because of [Spock]," said Ljungberg, modelling his lunchbox at a jaunty 47-degree angle. "He wants to help take the club up and take them to the top in England. It's a big challenge for me." In the words of Dan Quayle- this clearly isn't a man who is leaving with his head between his legs.

Freddie Ljungberg is expected to make his debut either in tonight's friendly at Leyton Orient or at MK Dons tomorrow.


Pete said...

We'll really miss the -- what was it, two? -- goals he scored last season. Good luck with the modeling.

Jimbob said...

nonsense.........this is a well-timed sale of an injury-prone 30 year old on a large salary........a fantastic player but time to move on

Gandolf said...

Sounds like sour grapes to me. Freddie has been great for us but he know he's not going to play much and he's past Wengers age threshold, just like the rest of the "invincibles". If he moved out of ambition, is he really better off at West Ham than with the new Arsenal? No.

Stitch-in-time said...

Well done Freddie! Within 10 minutes of arriving at West Ham he has alienated many Arsenal fans who only wished him well with a statement which makes no sense. Its been clear for months he was going to be moved on if the right price could be found. To say he is leaving Arsenal to improve himself at West Ham which should have been in the Championship this season and has every chance of going down again makes no sense. He doesn't seriously think they're going be at the top of the table does he?

Browny said...

I don't think Arsenal fans feel we are in a state of decline. We all loved Freddie but I think most of us realised he had just lost that little edge that seperates a top 4 club player from those in the next tier. I wish him well and thank him for all he did for us. I think it is a new era not a decline and feel very good about the coming season. I feel that last season the team dominated many games without gaining the win the dominance deserved. I even feel this was the case against our top 4 rivals. Take Chelsea for instance. Our 3 games against them last season were without Henry and largely Freddie but we were ahead against mostly their full strength side in all 3 but didn't put the game to bed when we were on top and dominating. Getting the ball in the back of the net was the problem. I now feel with Van-Persie back plus Bendtner, Walcott, Adebayor and Da-Silva the goals will start flowing again. So if we will now have the dominating play and the goals where is the decline?

Benfleet said...

Freddie hasnt played well for the gunners in two seasons, he went because he was not good enought to stay. Why join West Ham if he left because Arsenal were not one of the top teams in Europe!! I thought Freddie would have left with a bit more grace

Robbie said...

As a lifelong West Ham fan I would like to think that one day, one glorious day in the future, we will learn that we train the best players in the country and sell them at exactly the wrong time. Frank Lampard Jnr, Joe Cole, probably the best two attacking mid-fielders of our age. Gone. Reo Ferdinand, one of the best defenders ever, Gone. Now Nigel Reo-Coker England U21 captain and the best midfielder we have. Gone. Our best strikers, Tevez and Harewood, gone. Are the management desperate for us to go down to the Championship - bit disappointed we stayed up against all the odds? Why not keep them another season and see if we can move up the league as they develop? Oh no. Let's buy Freddie "30 year old" Ljundberg (Sorry Freddy - I truly admire your talent but it's not the future is it?) and Craig "Can't stay in one club longer than a season because I get on everone's wick" Bellamy.

It is truly miserable being a West Ham fan when this happens over and over again.

Stylo said...

Good luck to Freddie. He's done well for the Arsenal over the years. But to be honest he is leaving because he is no longer good enough for a starting place in the team, whith all the young talents coming through. So as an Arsenal fan his departure confirms my optimistic view about the future, whatever spin Freddie or the Times wants to put on it.

Golders said...

Freddie's regression over the last 2 odd seasons is been obvious. He hasn't taken time out in the off season to get the fitness required - blaming others instead of admitting the Hammers met his salary requirements is sad.
Veira & Titi went on to big clubs - not Freddie.Theo gets more playing time.

Marky said...

This is good business for Arsenal...but hey! listen to what the legend is saying. Concerned fans have been saying this for a number of years. It 's sad to hear it now coming from players. It is now time for AW to step aside, bring in the American money and Tony Adams or Houllier. Very concerned Gooner

Jacques said...

It's rather amusing that a player Arsenal and Wenger have been trying to offload for almost a year parts with such harsh words. To call him an integral part of the squad for the last couple of season would be an overstatement. I predict a Ljungberg v Bellamy bust up at the training grounds before the season is over.

Woody said...

so the fact that you're third choice on the right of midfield (behind hleb and walcott) had nothing to do with you leaving. Cheers Freddy, it's a shame you couldn't leave with the same class you showed throughout your Arsenal career

Monty said...

Freddie in his pants...head between your knees... this posts all a bit light-footed for my tastes!

Turner said...

Sounds like sour grapes. Ljungberg was never third choice at Arsenal!! He didn't play as often as before due to injuries. If Freddie's injuries are over than he is a bargain at under 3 million.

I feel he's just being honest and hasn't really said anything bad about Arsenal and all being said he does have a point.

Dave said...

The only thing light-footed around here are all these Arsenal faggots.

Well done Freddie and great choice by West Ham Utd. Takes total spending to £40m in 7 months and with Nicky Shorey £5m, Giles Barnes £3m and Eidur Gudjonssen £10m will push Bjorgolfur Gudmunssons spending on his baby to £58m in 7 months.

Jan said...

Ljungberg has definitely given the best of his career to Arsenal, and anyone regularly watching Arsenal's games will have to agree with the article above.

But let's face it, Ljungberg does have a point with his criticism. If you compare the current team to the "invincibles", the replacements brought in over the two past years haven't really improved the team, and with the new players coming in it's easy to see that it was time for him to move on. Personally I doubt that either Hleb or Rosicky will ever be as good as Pires and Ljungberg was 5-6 years ago.

That being said of course money was involved in making Ljungberg leave, especially considering Wenger's policy of not giving out long-term contracts to + 30 players, if not why should he had refused to move to Fiorentina, which after all should have been a much more exciting challenge than WH.

Let's just hope that some of the young guys can show some character and continue to develop, otherwise it might be a dismal season.

Anonymous said...

How sad it id to see Freddie`s coments about Arsenal, the club he stated only last month, (after Henry`s departure), that he hoped to spend the rest of his career at. Sad also to be hiding behind Henry`s departure, to hide his embarassment at finding himself no longer at the forefront of Arsene Wenger`s plans. So now he bigs-up West ham`s prospects to convince everyone (including himself), that he has made his best career move. Big club, big prospects? Just possibly. Champions League?--Er no. Freddie is slower and now very injury prone, but if he is fit enough to play at the Emirates, I for one will still sing "we love you freddie". We forgive you Freddie.

Pom said...

It's all about the money! Freddie has probably matched his wages at Arsenal but for another four years. Secondly, he was slipping down the pecking order at Arsenal and knew he had to move on rather than stay a peripheral figure. To suggest anything different and to believe that West Ham will finsih above Arsenal next year is insulting the intelligence of every football fan. It's all about the money and looking after number on

Kershaw said...

I am bitterly disappointed at Freddie's departure from Arsenal. He was a super player for the team and always gave of his best. It is a great and sad loss and a shock. Thierry has been courted and expected to leave for some time now and though his departure is sad it was hardly a surprise.

I am concerned that Arsenal may struggle to stay in the top four this season - and worse that Tottemham's star appears to be rising over the parapet.

Anonymous said...

rats,sinking ship? bye bye gonners

Asa said...

As most of the comments stated, its all about money. Freddie was an outstanding player for Arsenal and no one can take that away from him, but he is 30 and he has decided that he need to have a hefty retirement fund

Penguin said...

How sad to see all those gooners complaining about Wenger not spending any money. He never really has spent any money and he still managed to build some quality teams. Why not wait to see what he does with the current crop and see how well it performs before making an opinion. I am not an Arsenal supporter and I hope that this season is one that is barren, but in fairness to Wenger he has always done well with what resources he has had.

Kent said...

Arsenal have clearly lost their way. They sold a 30 year old guy whose last good game was the 2006 Champions League final (where he was a true hero). Freddie was a great but he is not part of Arsene's long term future. Freddie, why not say "Arsenal, thanks for a great nine years and all the best" rather than sounding a little bitter? Wenger and ambition are inextricably attached. Look at his face on the sidelines. We don't buy big names. The last few we tried were poor, Wiltord, Reyes, Baptista. So keep it to yourself Freddie and enjoy the East End.

Bazza said...

All Arsenal supporters need to trust the clubs
judgement when it comes to selling or buying
players. None of us are aware of what is said
behind closed doors, or what state a players
mind and long term fitness is really like. Mr.
Wenger knows Freddie better then any of us and
he is the best judge of what Freddie can and
cannot do for Arsenal Football Club. I would like
to thank Freddie for giving us all a decade of
high class skills, but he should also remember
that the club has given him a very decent living.
It is obviously the clubs decision that Freddie's
future lies elsewhere, Freddie should be pleased
with his move and leave with grace, at least he
won't have to move house.

Anonymous said...

Dream on all you gooners Arsenal are broke and until you get a sugar daddy like the rest you will always be second best. To say you will not miss the likes of Henry and Ljungberg is laughable, Utd. won the Prem because they blended the likes of Giggs and Scholes with the younger ones who will you blend with now ?? oh and Ketish Wiltord, Reyes and Baptista were not poor they just did not fit into the plan but have proved their worth at other clubs and on the International stage.

Nat said...

Lets be honest - FL was no longer guaranteed a first team place... that's the primary reason he's gone. These are the final toys to be lobbed from the pram. That said - it now makes me shudder as to how many players have committed their "careers" to Arsenal - only to clear off a matter of months later...


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