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Arnesen, Frank


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Frank Arnesen

Written by Loz in October 2007 and last updated September 2010

Frank Arnesen has always hated his parents for the fact that on September 30th 1965 he was born in Copenhagen thus making him Danish rather than Dutch. He was never quoted in any newspaper or magazine as saying ‘Lazy good for nothing gits, why couldn’t they have gone on holiday in Amsterdam for a month or two round about the time Mama was ready to drop.’

fa%20in%201975%20for%20ajax.jpg However he was soon to show his parents of will what will really was (Yes that’s right Arnesen is Keyser Soze). Although he started his playing career with a small Danish side called Fremad Amager he didn’t hang about there, or in Denmark, for long. In 1975, at the tender age of 18, he was snapped up by Ajax and had made his debut for the first team within a year of joining in a 1-1 draw against FC Utrecht.

It wasn’t just the Ajax management that were impressed by the young lad’s ability, he was already on the radar of the Danish national team and in 1977 he made his international bow in a friendly against Sweden. Sweden won 1-0 however ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’ was released on single that year so the Danes forgave their Scandinavian cousins.

Arnesen spent six years at Ajax and in that time they won the title three times, the KNVB cup once and reached the semi final of the European Cup in 1980 where they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side who went on to beat Hamburg in the final. Ajax lost 2-0 in the first leg at the City Ground and could only manage a 1-0 home win in the second leg despite the fact they had scored no less than 30 goals in the tournament up till that point (well they were up against Shilts in nets!).


A further two seasons later, in 1985, he signed for PSV Eindhoven where he was to enjoy three very successful seasons by winning the title in all three, the KNVB Cup in 1988 and only missed out on being in the PSV team that won the 1987/88 European Cup (6-5 on penalties against Benfica) through injury.

In 1987, after Denmark had qualified for Euro 1988, Arnesen retired from international football (not sure why he didn’t wait till after the tournament, maybe someone out there can fill me in) after having won 52 caps and scoring 14 goals.

[fimg=left]http://www.theshedend.com/fansite/images/Current_Squad/Frank_Arnesen/fa%20at%20psv%20with%20robben.jpg style="padding: 10px; bborder: 0"> Arnesen’s first venture into the non playing side of football came as a PSV assistant coach. He was appointed by then manager Bobby ‘Pop’ Robson in 1991 and in 1994 became the club’s ‘General Manager’ (whatever that entails). He then stepped into the role of Director of Football and spent a decade in this post. It was in this time that he established himself as a fine spotter of talent (one of the key reasons he was brought to Chelsea).

Amongst others he has been credited with unearthing the likes of Ronaldo (the portly Brazilian not the streak of piss Portuguese winger), Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Arjen Robben (so clearly not a medical man).

In 2004 Tottenham appointed Arnesen as a replacement for David Pleat (to be fair a kitchen chair could have replaced Pleat and the club would have better off, in fact I think the final three candidates were Arnesen, the chair and Qaz, the chair came second). Arnesen’s remit was very much about identifying new players and also handling transfer negotiations. As it happened Arnesen could probably have brought in the very best players in the world and Spurs would still have been crap as they had Jacques Santini as the day to day club manager.

When Arnsen signed for Spurs Eidur Gudjohnsen said of him:

Not only was he [Frank Arnesen] the first to sign me for PSV and gave me my first professional contract, but the time I was injured in Holland, which was nearly two seasons, he was always willing to give me a helping hand and really try to make me feel positive and as good as possible in such a long injury spell.

"That just shows what a human being he is, and that’s probably what I’m more grateful for than anything else.

arnesen%20at%20the%20bridge.jpg And so to the summer of 2005 – the nights were longer, days were darker, there were signs of an apocalyptic war on the horizon and it was all the fault of Chelsea Football Club. The bringers of evil, harbingers of hatred, all round bad eggs and rotten apples. And so it was to be in the signing of Arnesen. Somewhat out of the blue there as speculation that Chelsea were interested in appointing Arnesen in some capacity within their management team, and on June 4th 2005 Arnesen openly expressed a desire to join Chelsea leading to Spurs suspending him and accusing Chelsea of tapping him up.

Of course most businesses trying to deny such claims would probably have taken a fairly low key approach to matters however we are not most businesses. No our way of trying to ‘deflect’ the hype was to have invite Arnesen on board one of Roman’s yachts and allow the press to snatch a photograph of the moment – smart stuff eh!

Two days after this, on June 24th, it was announced that a compensation package had been agreed between the two clubs which was rumoured to be somewhere in the region of £8m although was later disclosed as being £5m. Arnesen took up the post Chief Scout and Director of Youth Development, an appointment that was wisely reported to have been very much against the wishes of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

arnsen%20in%20bbc%20documentary.jpg Turn the clocks forward to September 2006 and there is much speculation about an upcoming BBC Panorama programme that it is claimed is going to blow the lid off massive corruption in the English game – there was going to be mass naming and shaming of partners guilty of illegal transfer behaviour and, on the back of the guilty verdict against Chelsea for tapping up Ashley Cole, Chelsea fans feared the worst.

We shouldn’t have wasted our energies. Not because we weren’t implicated in the programme, on the contrary we very much were, and in particular Frank Arnesen was when video evidence was shown of him offering a 15 year old Middlesbrough kid (Nathan Porritt) a fee to leave Boro and join Chelsea, this offer being made despite Boro not given Chelsea permission to speak to the player or his agent. However we needn’t have worried because the program was made by the BBC and their utterly inept team presented information with so many holes in it, and full of evidence that was at best circumstantial, that it couldn’t be taken seriously by anyone.

Of the players in the first team just Arnesen is reported to have been involved in the identification of John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou however this is not confirmed officially by the club. His key role is considered to be at a level below the first team which is a role he has excelled in throughout his career. Youth development has been badly neglected by Chelsea for a very long time and it is only with the injection of Roman’s money and Jose Mourinho’s more active interest in the youth set up (an interest not shared by previous manager Claudio Ranieri) that we have stopped paying lip service to this area and started taking it seriously. Since Arnesen’s appointment Chelsea have either brought in, or are at least tracking the progress of, a phenomenal number of young players of all nationalities although it is also very encouraging that the youth system is well represented by English kids as well.

Josh-McEachran415.jpg September 2010 Update

During Arnesen's time at Chelsea his role at the club has often been questioned by fans with many wondering what he actually does and asking where the new talents of tomorrow are that he is supposed to have dentified. As stated above youth development was neglected by Chelsea for a long time and as a consequence it is ridiculous to have expected Arnesen to show up one year and be bringing through the stars of tomorrow within a couple of seasons.

As the 2009/10 season kicks in, and the new squad restrictions are in place, we are starting to see the benefits of the work Arnesen has been putting in, largely unappreciated, in his time with Chelsea. Players like Josh McEachran, Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta are making regular appearances on the Chelsea bench and also getting first team action.

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