Going Jonkers

Andries Jonker oversees AFC's Academy

Andries Jonker oversees AFC’s Academy

Andries Jonker is a man of great depth and experience. Having been brought up in the Dutch way he fully believes in having the time and freedom to educate his team in the right way to play. He sees Arsenal as a club with big tradition and aligns us with the Barcas, Ajax’s and LVG’s Bayern Munich premiere European institutions. When the offer came to Head AFC’s Youth Academy he knew “I have to do this”

With his background he understands the need and history of producing sustainable youth academies so when Ivan Gazidis & Arsene Wenger explained the club’s philosophy he “felt at home”. He obviously buys into “hardwiring” the infrastructure of the club.

AFC wanted him to bring his own Dutch people and he chose to work with Jan Van Loos to lead Hale End U16 & Franz de Kat at Colney to lead U18 & U21. He’s known and worked with them since 1990 when they worked together at KNVB. They are his trusted Lieutenants.

Jonker brought them as he trusts their qualities i.e. reliable, experience in educating people and leading an academy. He also decided to keep English staff after advice from Liam Brady.

Up to the age of 15-16 Jonker’s staff will adopt the continental philosophy of educating all age groups in style of play. (It’s interesting to note at the End of Season Q&A with Gazidis, ex-AFC player Graham Rix said in Britain we’re not educating our youngsters properly. We’re not teaching them how to play football properly from a young enough age. By the time they’re 14 it’s too late to teach them technique.)

Once they get to 16 onward they will “learn how to win games” (British philosophy).

Liam Brady Legend and former Head of AFC Academy

Liam Brady Legend and former Head of AFC Academy

He likes to give his coaching team the freedom to develop their kids, allowing them to find and implement the best fit, depending on the quality of the age group. However they are not averse to looking outside and will bring in better players should they find the age group to be lacking quality. So local talent will continue to be introduced at that level but, there will be culls if they fail to live up to expectations.

Wenger is yet to advise how much value he places in having the whole club adopting the same style of play. At Ajax & Barca there is a clear footballing culture throughout all levels and ages but it remains to be seen whether this will be adopted at AFC. You’d imagine Wenger being a massive admirer of the Ajax Way would want to instil such a culture throughout the club. I’d be shocked if this isn’t the case.

Finally Jonker is a very confident man (as you’d expect from the Dutch). He expects to be given the time to build this project to where he believes it needs to be. Having cited Liam Brady’s 18 year tenure as an example of evolution you’d think he’s here for the long term. He believes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and #Patience is key. (I’ll be interested to see if he sees himself as Academy Head for such a length of time or whether he expects to move up to first team at some later unspecified time)

People always look for that “quick and easy fix”

People always look for that “quick and easy fix”

So for those expecting to see quick fixes & instant results, think again. If he believes his youth players have what it takes to break through he’ll offer them to Wenger. If the boss sees that x-factor quality Jonker knows he’s doing well. If not then it’s back to the drawing board. But he expects everyone to be patient. “That is the thing with youth, you have to be patient.”

By @RamblinGooner


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