IT ended with what appeared to be the most bitter of Tweets. “It was a good experience as one of the assistant coaches. But the attitude of our 200
IT ended with what appeared to be the most bitter of Tweets.
“It was a good experience as one of the assistant coaches. But the attitude of our 2004 group is not needed there anymore.”
Jens Lehmann – an Arsenal legend and former German international shot-stopper synonymous with success, silverware and the occasional sending off – had been axed.
Joining up with old boss Arsene Wenger as an assistant coach back with the Gunners for the 2017/18 campaign, it looked the perfect appointment with the declining club in need of a shake-up.
But just 10 months later, as Wenger’s shock departure rocked the very foundations of Arsenal’s backroom staff, he was gone. Out the back door it seemed as Unai Emery’s team moved in.
Whisperings around the club suggested Lehmann had already grown frustrated at a distinct lack of Invincibles-mentality amongst the current crop of players before his sacking.
His cryptic-looking post on social media following his exit showed signs of frustration and anger.
But speaking for the first time since then, now as an assistant boss at FC Augsburg, the 49-year-old insists it wasn’t the case.
He said: “I’m not frustrated. Nobody can really complain when such a great manager like Wenger after 22 years is not there anymore. Sooner or later things come to an end.
“I know Arsene could have gone on for another one, two or however many years because he is very young at heart and he is still very agile and a great manager as we know.
“Working alongside him changed my whole view and perception of management and I am really grateful to him.
“I was really grateful to learn the structure and the methodology, the team management and the amount of coaches – the fitness and medical guys, psychologists and so on.
“It’s not easy today to manage such a big crowd inside your own coaching and medical staff. It was good for me to see and learn.
“But things like this happen. It gives me the chance for new challenges.
“It was a great experience to work with the group. If I completely disregard my time as a player there, then maybe I wouldn’t have the chance to compare because sometimes comparisons are not that good.
“I went in with the obstacle of trying not to compare anything but to learn. And of course, to give something which I learned from my time in football.
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“It was more me going in as a student going in for the first couple of months.
“As a player, I was very intense and as a coach at Arsenal that was my task – to bring intensity to whatever we did.”
On returning to his home in Bavaria after leaving north London for the third time in his career – twice as a player and once as a coach – Jens spent seven months on the look-out for a new role.
During that time he considered remaining in England, with a head coach role in the Championship a particular fancy of his.
“Going to a lower league club I think with my experience in football to be a head coach would be great – I know how to get on with teams,” he said confidently before his arrival at FC Augsburg.
“That’s what I’ve done for a long time as a player and now I’ve learned the other side.
“I think I understand the psychology of a team really well and probably will be better than a lot of coaches who didn’t have the pleasure to play that high level that I did.”
He would even risk tarnishing his Arsenal legend status with a switch to one of their rivals in the future.
Lehmann, who kept 54 clean sheets in 148 Prem appearance for the Gunners, said: “It wouldn’t bother me to coach another team in the Premier League.
“At the end of the day I played for 5 or 6 clubs and if I only picked clubs where I have played I could never go into coaching. As a coach I’m open.
“My heart obviously, if I’m not involved in an English club, will always be with Arsenal but if I should be involved with an English club that isn’t Arsenal then I would give everything to do well there.”
In the end, a chance to return to where it all started in the Bundesliga was too good to turn down – for now.
And with his ambition to make his mark as a head coach in England, an apparent bitter start to life in coaching could soon turn very sweet indeed for Jens Lehmann.