Call him a stand-in coach. An Interim boss. A caretaker manager. But whatever he is known as it seems that Freddie Ljungberg will get a decent number of matches as the Arsenal gaffer to prove his credentials as the man to replace axed boss Unai Emery.
The Gunners axed Spanish coach Emery last Friday after a run of dismal results and displays culminated in a 2-1 home defeat to a no-more-than-ordinary Eintracht Frankfurt side in the Europa League the night before.
Following the decision, Ljungberg was handed the chance to head up team selection with Arsenal using the phrase “interim head coach” meaning they had a man in charge for the Premier League game at Norwich City on Sunday while they began their search for a new manager.
Ljungberg, the former darling of the Arsenal fans who won a clutch of honours during a glittering player career in north London, enjoyed a reasonable start to his stint in charge with a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road. His team showed both enterprise and flair in the opening exchanges of the match against the Canaries but trailed off somewhat after the break and most neutrals would agree that a draw was about the right conclusion.
Next up, the former Sweden international attacking midfielder will be in charge as the Gunners host Brighton & Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night. And while Ljungberg has faith placed in him by the board for the short-term, the search for a new, permanent boss continues with two stand-out candidates.
Leicester City gaffer Brendan Rodgers is said to be on the wish-list, as is Mauricio Pochettino. the man so dramatically sacked by Tottenham Hotspur before the Lillywhites went on to appoint former Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho.
Rodgers enjoyed a reasonable stint as manager Liverpool in the past he is used at being at a big Premier League club — not that the Foxes aren’t a decent-sized club themselves — and the way he has his side playing currently there can be no doubts about his ability to motivate and to prepare his team tactically. He has also done well in the transfer market.
Pochettino, meanwhile, would probably face some hostility from Gunners supporters having previously been head coach of north London rivals Tottenham, and, as was often pointed out during his career in N17, he won nothing at all in his stint at the club after he joined five years ago from Southampton.
There will be no end of conjecture over the names in the frame to get the Arsenal job, that is for sure. But in the meantime, Ljungberg has the role. There are thousands of Gooners praying he can turn things round for the under-achieving club and as a result is handed the job on a permanent basis.
Watch his space…