The latest news from the bluegrass state.
Well really, this is a day late - Nevertheless, July is here and that not only brings in PUMA as the club's new kit supplier and sponsor (with their bags and bags of cash), but it also means that the youth academy structure is being completely scrapped and rebuilt with Liam Brady, David Court, and Ron Massey all officially leaving their positions today. Having been overlooked for Brady's position, Terry Burton also leaves the club. Andries Jonker replaces Brady as the manager of the academy sides, with Court and Massey's positions respectively to be filled by Dutch compatriots Frans de Kat (U18) and Jan van Loon (U16). Jonker's reshuffle isn't without some continuity though, as Steve Gatting is retained as the U21 coach, and the former U18 coach, Carl Laraman, joins Gatting in the U21 setup.
What does this mean going forward? Replacing Brady was always going to be a big task, and doing so with the considerable experience of Jonker has to be said is something of a coup. Having worked for the Dutch FA in several capacities, including reforming youth development and managing their U15 and U21 sides, he was appointed Assistant manager at Barcelona FC under newly appointed Manchester United manager Louis van Gall. Following van Gall's move in 2009 from AZ Alkmaar to Bayern Munich, he again appointed Jonker as his assistant manager. Van Gall was sacked in April of 2011 having failed to secure third place in the Bundesliga, and Jonker was elevated as caretaker manager for 61 days before Jupp Heynckes took over, then dropping down to managing Bayern Munich II. Since leaving in the summer of 2012, Jonker has been the Assistant Manager of VfL Wolfsburg under Dieter Hecking.
He's got a tremendous pedigree, and hopefully his experience in the Dutch and German youth setups may help us uncover some hidden gems there. It also speaks of Arsene Wenger's faith in the market moving toward the German and Dutch leagues for their renowned technical prowess, pace, and physicality in the development of our own youth players.
So with the Emirates stadium now being plastered with PUMA emblems and training kits, and our mentions on twitter being flooded with new pictures of the new kit before it's official announcement, lets look on with anticipation at what our academy may be doing in the next few years. Exciting times ahead, everyone. Exciting times.
Branch Manager of Arsenal Kentucky.