Danny Cowley is currently the manager at Portsmouth, but last season he was in charge at Huddersfield, where the newest Arsenal star Emile Smith-Rowe Video – Arsenal loanee Emile Smith Rowe on fire for Huddersfield Townspent a 5-month loan period before returning to the Gunners in the summer.
ESR helped the Terriers avoid relegation from the Championship, and Cowley has now admitted that Arsenal were micro-managing Smith-Rowe’s loan period and wouldn’t allow him to play every game up in Yorkshire.
Cowley told The Portsmouth News: ‘We first watched Emile play for Arsenal under-23s at Boreham Wood and followed his progress.
‘At Huddersfield, our then head of football, Dave Webb, was a family friend, which gave us a way in. We then met mum and dad, who are teachers, and got a connection there.
‘Emile had had a really disappointing time at Leipzig, who’d paid about £2m for the loan and then he’d got injured in the first couple of weeks. He was young and in Germany on his own.
‘The way Leipzig play is a very high-pressing game, extremely different to how Arsenal play. As a consequence, they broke him quite early.
‘That meant we worked really hard with Arsenal to look after him. We put in a huge amount of work to make that transition as smooth as possible – which meant we had him available to us for virtually the whole season.
‘At that time, though, Emile wasn’t able to physically play 90 minutes on the Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, so we agreed with Arsenal that we’d manage his minutes. I would have to take him off at 60 minutes and the crowd would murder me!
‘I had no choice. Emile would be playing brilliantly in the game but we had to look after him and protect him, which was the agreement with Arsenal.
‘We needed to manage his minutes, which was the right thing to do for the boy – and, for us, it’s always player-centred.
‘When we had to beat West Brom in the second from last game of the season, we weren’t allowed to start Emile!
‘You know you are going to be getting heavily criticised, but no-one really knows the full story.
‘Then he came on a sub and scored a late winner. Maybe that was the football gods looking after us!’
And the rest, as they say, is history!
Smith-Rowe obviously benefited immensely from being protected during his loan period in the Championship, and he came back to the Gunners as an older more mature Number Ten, and has had an amazing impact for Arsenal since his debut against Chelsea on Boxing Day.
But just like during his time at Huddersfield, the Arsenal fans get upset when Mikel Arteta leaves ESR on the bench, or takes him off despite playing well.
Maybe this will help us fans realise that it is not a good idea to overplay our youngsters at such an early stage of their careers…