It was halfway through the snoozefest of S-Pulse v Marinos when I checked my phone to see a tweet asking me what I thought of Ljungberg joining S-Pulse. I was completely baffled and just went back to the job of shouting on my team. When the ref mercifully blew the full time whistle, a mate who cheers from a different section came over looking cautiously excited and repeated the news. I had to sit down and have him tell me again very slowly.
It made for an interesting drive home as more and more news filtered through. A picture of the man himself at the stadium, that it was in fact a done deal just waiting on a visa. So this is the ex Arsenal legend now playing for my very own S-Pulse. How nice. :)
34? Yeah, that's about right for a top class European player to play out his last couple of years abroad. Noone is naive enough to think we're getting a player at the top of his game, but it's far from too old and many top players in Japan are around that age. It may well be his swansong career step, but we won't be expecting anything less than 100% from the super Swede. He's a natural talent and can definitley still succeed, but it must be part of the wider team.
A lot has changed since the early 90's when world stars graced the fledgeling J. League with their presence. It's a much more serious business these days, and the addition of Freddie has to be part of the wider plan, not just a ploy to flog a load of shirts and season tickets.
That said, the impact he may have on ticket sales is huge, and that is never a bad thing. It will also raise our profile abroad which is a vast untapped market. His experience and knowledge will be a huge benefit for our youngsters like Takagi and Genki and the potential for a partnership with Ono is mouth watering.
He's not a player with a long history of injuries, but scanning his club record after Arsenal gives us reason to be slightly wary. He's not been at any team for long, and I've no idea what happened up at Celtic, but can we be certain he's going to be here until the end of next season as promised? If we can, then next year may be an extremely exciting one.
For the remainder of this term, let's see him settle in, work hard and build up an understanding with the rest of the team. If this is going to work then that's the absolutely crucial thing - he has to be a cog in the bigger machine, not just the big name foreign star running around on his own.
Welcome though, Freddie - I'm 100% behind you, Ghotbi and the boys, and believe it's going to work. Ole!