TELSTAR TALES: Ex-Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern coach Jonker reaping the benefits of City loan link
- Credit: Archant
In Andries Jonker, Norwich City have a coach with clubs like Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern Munich on his CV helping develop two of their young talents.
Jonker is managing SC Telstar in Holland after a vastly experienced coaching career that has seen him work with some of the biggest clubs in the game.
Under Arsene Wenger, he worked as head of youth development at Arsenal and was Louis van Gaal’s assistant boss at both Barca and Bayern.
One of those connections – his link with the Gunners – helped forge a relationship with the Canaries that nobody anticipated or expected.
“Last year we had Charlie Gilmour. That was based on the initiative of Charlie and me because we knew each other from Arsenal. We developed a good relationship with Norwich and then they proposed whether we’d be interested in Dan Adshead.
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“They consider him to be one of their biggest talents – so we were very pleased with the request itself. Dan came over because it is important to us that he knew where he was going and he knows what to expect. We wanted him to be comfortable with us.”
City sent Adshead for a trial period in the Netherlands, hoping that Jonker would deem him good enough to take on loan and the teenager would enjoy his spell at the club.
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Jonker’s time at Arsenal saw them nurture numerous home-grown talents. Some, like Bukayo Saka, are beginning to play a significant role in Mikel Arteta’s first-team.
Others, like Josh Martin, who Jonker enquires about during our phone call, end up forging their career elsewhere.
But what about personally, does it give you confidence when a team like Norwich City shows faith in your ability to develop their talent? For Jonker, it does.
“For the people who know youth football, I think I have a reputation in England because in my time at Arsenal we developed many good boys who have become well-known players. The ones like Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alex Iwobi, Daniel Crowley, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka – they were all in the academy when I was there with another couple of Dutchmen.
“The time with Charlie has confirmed for Norwich that Telstar is a good address to bring their players. It makes us as a club feel happy and proud that a club like Norwich has this confidence because in Holland, they are a well-known, well-respected club.
“They like what we try to do and intend to do. That helps the player – because if they play with a completely different approach to the game then why? The interest for Norwich is developing their players so of course, they’ll look for a club who has the same intentions they have.
“We really try to play football. Our colours are white so we try and play white to white in order to make goals and to win. That’s quite simple – but it’s no more complicated than that.”
As well as Adshead, City striker Sebastian Soto is on loan at the Rabobank IJmond Stadion and has netted three goals in his opening four matches for the club.
His route into Telstar wasn’t as straight-forward as Adshead’s, as Jonker concedes.
“With Soto, his agent called me, he had problems at Norwich (with his work permit). I don’t know whose initiative it was – whether it was the agent or Norwich – but he’s another talent who they have big expectations for.
“It was important with him to know what he would do. He came from Hannover, I know them very well from my spell in Germany, we are a much smaller club so it was important Soto came over. He felt comfortable and we were satisfied with him so we decided to bring them both over.
“It’s financially interesting to us because of Norwich’s support and then they start to play and I think Dan has participated in all league matches so far. He’s getting used to Dutch second division football which is completely different to English under-23 football. He make steps and progress, getting better.
“We needed time to get paperwork done and Soto needed time to adapt to team training again but after a few weeks I told him that he had to start and he agreed completely. Step by step, we are integrating him into the team. In his first match where he was allowed to start he scored two goals in the first half so we’re happy so far.”
Despite some reservations about some English clubs intentions in utilising the loan system - Jonker believes the Canaries are leading the way in terms of using it as a tool to develop players.
“I don’t believe in buying foreign players for the sake of winning games. You build a stable club if the people can identify themselves with the players in the club. In Arsenal, we tried to build half a team based on Nelson, Saka, Maitland-Niles and bought the other half to help make them better - creating a situation where they can develop themselves.
“That way, also the English national team might have the benefit of really good English players. Then you have a good future.
“I think what Norwich is trying to do is an example. Even though they went down to the Championship, I do hope they continue to work and think in this way.”
For Jonker, the future of the relationship is bright. Telstar benefit by improving their position in the Eerste Divisie through recruiting hungry, young talent and City reap the rewards of that a season later.
But there are other areas where this link suits the Dutch side, including helping their financial situation – something that is under the microscope in current times.
“Telstar is financially the smallest club in Holland. The position on the table isn’t what it looks like financially. We should be number 20, but we aren’t. That is being helped by making the smartest decisions we can make.
“The link is proving beneficial for us football wise, but also financially, and Norwich is being helped as well. I think we can continue this and I was very pleased with the two coming over and that Norwich are showing their confidence in what we are doing.”