With European clubs like Bayern Munich and Ajax appointing legendary players to important roles, many have wondered why Arsenal don’t do the same.
Arsenal and Ajax legend Dennis Bergkamp is assistant manager in Amsterdam now after some time as a youth coach and has previously spoken about the desire to return to north London.
Despite having such an incredible football mind, though, Bergkamp doesn’t think he’ll ever become a manager himself, preferring to work with young players and – occasionally – take his mind off the game.
“I like to be able to switch off every now and then,” he told Martin Keown. “It’s like when we were players, I train in the morning but I like to be with my family in the afternoon and do other things. As a manager you need to be switched on 24/7.”
Alongside Frank de Boer at Ajax, Bergkamp has had some huge success. Four consecutive league titles in the Netherlands between 2011 and 2014 was his post-playing career highlight so far and, after a difficult season, Ajax are back in contention again this season.
Even the taste of glory from the bench, though, hasn’t been enough to tempt Dennis into the managerial scene.
“I love football but I love the details, the individual play. I’m not so interested in the tactical thing but as a manager you have to be focused on that.
“It’s the constant information. If this is what it takes then I don’t want to be a manager. I’m an assistant and I prefer to be on the pitch, especially with youngsters, the ones with real potential. That’s my kind of thing.”
As for Arsenal, where fans would love to see Dennis once again, is there a chance we’ll ever see him?
Two seasons ago the Dutchman was on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium and admitted his ambition to return to the club.
Unfortunately, the recent death of mentor and Ajax legend Johan Cruyff could have changed that. In recent years Cruyff had endured something of a power struggle at Ajax as board members disagreed with his vision for the club. Bergkamp was brought back by the legendary former player and head coach and feels responsible for the club now.
“I feel I’m not finished here. I want to be alert, now that Cruyff has gone, that it doesn’t change. There are many, many people who would like to change it again and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
It’s fantastic that Dennis has such an attitude and something Ajax need. The club was brought to the very top by Cruyff the player, who set the tone on the pitch. After his playing career he did the same on the training ground.
Ajax very much have a way of playing and, as long as he feels he has to, you can’t begrudge Dennis’ wish to remain there and protect the club’s traditions.