Jonker appointment signals coaching changes in Arsenal youth set-up


Arsenal have announced a considerable re-structuring of their coaching staff at youth level following the appointment of Andries Jonker as the club’s new Head of Youth Development.

Steve Gatting, somewhat surprisingly, will remain in his position as coach of the club’s U21 team, where he will be joined by Carl Laraman. Dutch coach Frans de Kat will take charge of the U18 team alongside Kwame Ampadu, whilst another new arrival, Jan van Loon, will oversee the development of the U16 side. Terry Burton’s departure from the club has also been confirmed after the 61 year old was overlooked when the club decided to appoint Jonker as Liam Brady’s replacement.

The appointments of de Kat and Ampadu will mark the third change in coaching staff at U18 level since Steve Bould was promoted to the first-team set-up less than two years ago. After some wretched results under the stewardship of Pat Holland and then Laraman, the new pairing will be hopeful of improving the perception of the club’s youth set-up. With 14 new scholars poised to commence their careers in the summer, this is a time of considerable change for the Academy. Ampadu, a former Arsenal player who made two appearances for the first-team, has impressed since re-joining the club as U16 coach, whilst de Kat has vast experience of coaching in Dutch football, with the national team, ADO Den Haag and Willem II.

van Loon has also worked with the Dutch national team’s youth set-up and will be tasked with helping the club’s next batch of promising schoolboys, including the talented Charlie Gilmour, to progress to full-time scholarships.

The decision to retain both Gatting and Laraman would, on the face of it, appear rather bizarre, with both coaches having come under criticism from regular attendees of youth team matches for the disappointing results and performances in league matches that have occurred during their reign. That said, both have guided Arsenal’s youngsters to the latter stages of cup competitions this campaign. Results are not the most important aspect of youth-team football, but Gatting and Laraman certainly do not inspire as much confidence as their predecessors, Bould and Neil Banfield.

It is clear that Jonker, whilst introducing some of his compatriots as coaches, wants to maintain a sense of continuity at the club by retaining some of the existing staff. Whether that will prove to be a wise move remains to be seen, but next season will certainly be another campaign of upheaval for the Arsenal youth department.

7 comments

  1. Looks like a sensible way to go about it. Clearing everybody out would have left them wide open to criticism if results were anything but perfect. Similarly, going (all) Dutch would have pretty much alienated the club from English coaching circles (Stewart Robson would cream his pants)

    This way we have both continuity, and a clean slate for the guy taking over the 16/18s. Plus, it has to be said, 18s and 21s coaches both are ultimately judged on player development. If even one other player graduates to first team in the way Gnabry has in the next year or so, that means the youth team has functioned well in recent years.

    Very unlikely, in my opinion, that it’s been the coaches decision to play Zelalem all the time in that position for U21s, and that sort of decision-making/ ruling from above is probably common. Resulting in it being pretty unfair to focus too closely on results.

    Anyway, good on paper, now let’s see the reality (hopefully it’s just a stereotype that the Dutch get into arguments among themselves!)

  2. I see this as a another temporary measure, perhaps jonker has another person in mind for the under 21s who is under contract. I’m certain that gatting and laraman will move on or perhaps like ampadu be offered an assistant role in the u21s or u18s. That way each team will be headed up by a foreign coach with an “arsenal man” as his assistant.

    Btw is David Court still involved? I hoped that jonker might persuade overmars to take over courts role and that bergkamp would get the u21s job or even take banfield or primovic role.

    What I hope now is that wenger has the balls to sign a contract based on success. Then has the balls to realise that he too needs a shake up in the coaching and medical staff.

      1. I’m sure none of these people talking about poor quality medical department has any kind of medical education. Neither they have any understanding what happens at Arsenal nor around the footballing world. The number of injuries don’t always measure the quality of medical department, because injuries happen in many ways… some are impact injuries, some are caused of tiredness and muscle injuries, some are just bad luck… The professional footballers are massively expensive products and every world class club does everything in their power to prevent and treat the injuries. I’m sure this has been done also at Arsenal since Wenger took charge. It’s a small investment, but hugely beneficial.

        This Arsenal’s poor medical department rubbish talk is caused by rubbish British “wannabe-newspapers” who have neither evidence nor expertise to make any kind of comments. I strongly recommend people to ignore these media muppets and search, read and study for top quality football journalism. I know it’s hard to find, because these so-called “football fans” don’t demand top quality football journalism. The football journalism is simply the lowest form of journalism and caused by popularity of this sport. Football is a victim of it’s own success and in small sports the quality of media work and the fan knowledge is massively higher.

  3. Powerslave, instead of taking up your time writing long winded replies I suggest you research just how many players AFC have injured each season, especially set against the figures for other Premier clubs. Also, check the recovery period for some of our players, it’s certainly not good. Some of the injuries are no doubt caused by Wenger’s bad habit of over playing certain players.

    1. Well, I’m not Twitter or Facebook generation, so I am capable of writing longer replies than just throwing few words without any logical arguments.

      Yes, Arsenal has had loads of injuries, but every case is different. Sometimes you can prevent an injury, but often you just can’t. For example, some NHL players got injured eating pancakes or watching telly… On the other hand, other world class clubs have also loads of injuries and the simple reason is the footballers are basically playing every three days during the season and many have a short recovery time due to the summer tournaments. That’s the life at the top! Sure, you can sign non-international team players who have lots of recovery time, but the success would be limited.

      Wenger’s habit of “overplaying” players? It has been very clear that the footballer monitoring has been massively improved within the last 5 years. Recently Wenger also made comments about this, so the player fitness levels are carefully assessed. There’s a risk in every training session and match, so the coaching and medical staff constantly calculate the risk. Sometimes injuries, fitness levels, tactical and personal reasons just mean that some players play more than some others. I remember Wenger mentioned recently in the interview that fatigue is not much related to how many matches you will play in a short time. Sometimes you have fatigue lasting long time, but sometimes you are fresh when playing lots of matches.

      Play your hot players who earn their ice time! That’s a common situation in the NHL hockey. Do you think for example Ryan Suter is much complaining about playing the whole season over 30 minutes a night? I suggest all the Arsenal fans start watching the Stanley Cup playoffs soon and realize what it means to win the hardest trophy in the world. Football has loads of things to learn from the NHL hockey… 4-5 games every week in the physically and mentally toughest league, but the players and coaches just carry on and don’t moan about “fixture congestion” like these laughable Premier League coaches.

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