Belfast Telegraph

Hartson questions Ljungberg’s contribution against Eintracht Frankfurt

Arsenal are on a seven-game winless run and have appointed Freddie Ljungberg as interim head coach.

John Hartson has criticised Freddie Ljungberg (Jeff Holmes/PA)
John Hartson has criticised Freddie Ljungberg (Jeff Holmes/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Former Arsenal striker John Hartson says Unai Emery “had to go” but has criticised the Gunners’ new interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg.

Emery was sacked by the north London club on Friday morning after a Europa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt extended the team’s winless run to seven matches in all competitions.

Hartson, who played for Arsenal between 1995 and 1997 and now works as a pundit, supported the decision to dismiss the Spaniard, but questioned Ljungberg’s contribution against Frankfurt.

Ex-Gunners midfielder Ljungberg had been working as assistant first-team coach under Emery this season after being promoted during the summer.

“Ljungberg was a great help to Emery last night.. sat down for 90 mins..” Hartson tweeted.

“Surely you get in the manager’s ear if you can see what’s going wrong.. Emery had to go.”

After being chosen in May 2018 as the man to follow Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign, Emery missed out on Champions League qualification in his first season having finished fifth in the Premier League and lost the Europa League final.

The Gunners are currently eighth in the top flight following just four wins from 13 matches ahead of Sunday’s match at Norwich.

Temporary boss Ljungberg is eager to bring a feel-good factor back to the Emirates Stadium.

“However long I oversee @Arsenal for I will give everything I have to put smiles on faces again,” tweeted the Swede.

“We have a busy few weeks ahead and the team needs your support. Let’s get to work!”

Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who played in Emery’s final game, apologised and said the players must take responsibility for recent poor results.

“Thank you @UnaiEmery_ and Javi (Garcia, goalkeeping coach) I’m sorry we let you down, it’s our fault for not performing the right way, I’m sure we will meet again,” he tweeted.

Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta has emerged as one of the early favourites to replace Emery on a permanent basis, along with Carlo Ancelotti, Max Allegri, and Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo.

City boss Guardiola remained tight-lipped on the possibility of losing Arteta, who played for the Gunners from 2011 until 2016.

“He is with the squad for Newcastle. It is not a question for me,” said Guardiola.

Speaking about Emery, he added: “I am sorry for him. Every time a manager is sacked it is not good news.

“It does not change my opinion of him. He is an incredible professional. I am sure he will find another job soon.”

Jose Mourinho was last week appointed by Arsenal’s fierce rivals Tottenham following the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino.

The Portuguese coach, who like Guardiola has backed Emery to bounce back from the dismissal, said there was little merit in discussing whether he would have been interested in the Gunners’ vacancy had he still be out of work.

“There is no point to tell it, it didn’t happen,” he said.

“It happened now. I am so happy here that I couldn’t even put the possibility of joining another club. You could point any club in the world in front of me and I would not join.”

On Emery, he added: “It is always sad news. I felt it as a kid when my dad was sacked as a manager, I have felt myself when I have been sacked previously.

“There is not one single manager that is sacked that I am happy about, I always feel deja vu. I am sad, but that is life.

“Unai is a fantastic coach, not happy at Arsenal obviously, but a fantastic coach with a fantastic record. His career will be on track.”

PA

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