Berlin (AFP) – Arsenal youth academy boss Andries Jonker was on Monday named head coach at struggling Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg and revealed that ex-Gunners star Freddie Ljungberg will be his assistant.
This is the first time Jonker has been appointed head coach at a top club after previous stints on the staff at Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and Arsenal’s academy, where he was working with the Swede Ljungberg, 39.
“I’m bringing Freddie Ljungberg as my assistant coach and I’m looking forward to the job,” said Jonker in his first press conference.
This will be Ljungberg’s first senior coaching role. The ex-midfielder is regarded as a legend at Arsenal having scored 71 goals in 318 games for the Gunners, where he had been coaching a junior team since last July.
Jonker has a contract until June 2018 and replaces Valerien Ismael, who left on Sunday after Wolfsburg’s 2-1 defeat at home to Werder Bremen.
The Dutchman is Wolfsburg’s third coach this season, after they also sacked Dieter Hecking in October.
Friday’s loss left the 2015 German Cup winners just two points from the relegation spots after only six wins from 22 league games.
“We need to solve a small problem here,” said Jonker, eyeing up the relegation battle at the 2009 German champions.
He says his priority is to find out why Wolfsburg have lost five of their last six matches in all competitions despite spending 33 million euros ($35m) on new players in January.
His task has not been made easier by Wolfsburg’s director of sport Olaf Rebbe setting a target of 40 Bundesliga points — meaning six wins from their final 12 league games.
“Andries Jonker knows VfL Wolfsburg and has kept regular contact with the club since his move to London,” said Rebbe.
“Both of these factors were decisive in being able to realise this top solution in a short period of time.
“He is a coach with international experience and a proven tactician who brings with him the best conditions to help get VfL quickly and sustainably back on the path to success.”
The 54-year-old Jonker has plenty of experience of German league football.
He was Louis van Gaal’s assistant at Bayern from 2009 until April 2011 when he stepped up as caretaker coach until the end of the season after van Gaal was sacked.
Jonker then had a stint as Wolfsburg’s assistant coach from 2012 to 2014 when he left to become the head of Arsenal’s academy.
Wolfsburg finished second to Bayern Munich in 2014/15 and were eighth last season, but their fall from grace has been dramatic this campaign.
Record-signing Julian Draxler was sold to Paris Saint Germain in January after repeatedly saying he wanted to leave.
Ismael was the eighth German league coach sacked this season.
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