Liam Brady is an Arsenal legend, there is no doubt about it, and when he finishes his fantastic job of running the youth academy in 2014, it is vital that Arsenal pick the right man to fill his shoes. I feel it should be somebody with a big connection to the club, and Dennis Bergkamp certainly fits that description. Some newspapers reported that Bergkamp may be in line for the position, but I do not think he is the right man.
It’s not that he couldn’t do the job, he knows the game inside out and I’m sure he would be brilliant. The problem, for me, is that running the academy should be a long term project. It’s important for the young players to know who they are dealing with year after year. It’s all about continuation and progress, and it is vitally important for the Arsenal philosophy that the academy is as good as it can be.
Brady took the job in 1996, not long before Arsene Wenger took over as manager, so it will be 18 years when he steps aside. In that time, Arsenal have produced some excellent players, the best of the recent bunch being Jack Wilshere who looks set to captain Arsenal and England for years to come. Obviously we want that to continue.
The thing with Bergkamp is, he is assistant to Frank de Boer at Ajax at the minute, learning his trade as a manager. If Arsenal want him to be manager one day, as I certainly do, then he should join the club as a coach or as the manager in time, not as director of the academy. Arsenal need to find someone who wants the academy job, not as a stepping stone to the manager’s job, but because it’s what they want to do.