Arsenal and Northern Ireland u21 defender Daniel Ballard has compared Freddie Ljungberg’s management style to that of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.
An Arsenal legend from his playing days, Ljungberg became manager of the u23s at the start of the current campaign. He hasn’t always had the easiest time of it, losing the vast majority of last season’s Premier League 2 title-winning team for one reason or another.
Reiss Nelson went on loan, Joao Virginia, Vlad Dragomir and Josh Dasilva left for good, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock have become regulars in the first-team squad, Jordi Osei-Tutu has struggled with injuries, and Emile Smith Rowe has had injuries, senior call-ups and now a loan as well.
However, despite a mid-season dip in form without that group, Ljungberg is starting to get his ideas across to the new batch of youngsters. His side are undefeated in 2019 so far, scoring 14 and conceding three. Defender Daniel Ballard has praised the style of football under his new boss.
“He (Ljungberg) looks at the game in such a unique and different way,” Ballard told the Northern Ireland social media page. “He often uses Pep Guardiola and the way he plays and tries to implement that with us. Sometimes it looks risky, and it is difficult, but when it pays off the football is really good and we’ve had some really good results under him.”
The likes of Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi are really coming on under Ljungberg, and when Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah do play for the academy side you can see a big improvement on last season. The difference is most notable in terms of the team’s playing style though, rather than any individual.
If Ljungberg keeps putting results together and playing attractive football, perhaps he could have a shot at the top job someday.