Arsenal have appointed Nicolas Jover from Manchester City to Mikel Arteta’s backroom staff. Jover will take over from the departing Andreas Georgson, (who joined Arsenal last summer from Brentford, alongside Carlos Cuesta from Juventus and Miguel Molina from Atlético Madrid), who is joining Swedish team Malmö FF.
Jover was initially appointed to the Manchester City backroom staff just as Mikel Arteta was preparing to leave for Arsenal and in the wake of Unai Emery’s departure.
In fact, Jover himself has been very complimentary of his former Manchester City colleague, speaking of how important Arteta was in his decision to join Manchester City, telling Sport Witness: “Mikel was very influential – He’s a real leader and a personality. To take one example, he speaks six languages, including Italian, even though he’s never lived in Italy.”
Previously, Jover had been the set-piece specialist at Brentford, seemingly setting the standard for the impressive array of coaches that the club have produced.
Jover’s résumé makes for impressive reading, having worked under a number of hugely gifted coaches such as René Girard, Rolland Courbis, Jean Fernandez and Frédéric Hantz, as well as Niko Kovač and Pep Guardiola.
Jover’s wealth of experience will likely prove useful in other areas too, having served as a Video Analyst for Université de Sherbrooke, then the Technical Director for Dynamik de Sherbrooke and later as the Head of Performance Analysis for Montpellier.
Brentford’s proficiency from set-pieces had not gone unnoticed, as it was not just Pep Guardiola who took an interest in the Brentford coach; England assistant coach, Steve Holland also visited the club to see what all the fuss was about.
Jover initially started off at Université de Sherbrooke in Canada, where he took up an interest in video analysis. From there, Jover became the Technical Director at Dynamik de Sherbrooke before he joined Montpellier and proved to be a hugely useful weapon in Montpellier’s arsenal as they claimed the league title in 2011/12.
Jover then moved to work under Niko Kovač as part of the Croatian national team and then moving on to Brentford and later Manchester City.
Former Angers midfielder, Pascal Grosbois, spoke to L’Equipe about the growing interest in specialist coaching, with Grosbois himself a set-piece coach. In the interview, Grosbois spoke of how coaches like Jover are leading something of a revolution in football.
Ligue 1 clubs do not yet see the usefulness of a coach dedicated to set pieces. While at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola did not hesitate to hire a Frenchman, Nicolas Jover. It’s a shame, because there is untapped potential.Pascal Grosbois, speaking to L’Equipe
Jover also gave a brief interview to Christoph Biermann for his book Football Hackers: The Science and Art of a Data Revolution in the Revolution chapter, Jover spoke of how he sees dead balls as a system of casual relationship similair to the game of chess.
The book grants a fascinating insight into data analysis and how the game of football has moved forward but also shows an interesting portion of how Jover had to tackle the situations facing Brentford at the time.
When Jover joined Brentford, he was joining a team that did not often play regular Championship football. The lack of tall, physical presences meant that Brentford were required to re-think their strategy. Jover would often speak to Mads Buttgereit of FC Midtjylland, Brentford’s partner club, and the two would compare notes.
Heimir Hallgrímsson, the former manager of Iceland (and who masterminded Iceland’s shock 2-1 win over England at EURO 2016) spoke of how Jover opened his eyes to the possibilities of set-pieces. Jover reportedly pointed out that the reason why teams like FC Midtjylland and Atlético Madrid were so good at set-pieces was because they practised going for the second-ball, something that most teams do not always attempt.
It is a seemingly worthy appointment to Arteta’s backroom staff. Arsenal boasted the third-best defence in the Premier League, though they did only concede an impressive 5 of their overall 39 goals from dead ball situations, the eighth highest in the league, they fared far worse in attack as of the 55 goals Arsenal scored last season, just 6 came from set-pieces (not including 6 penalties), the third lowest in the league.
Mikel Arteta seems to be looking to improve in areas that have been wakeness for Arsenal, the addition of Jover coupled with the potential signing of Brighton’s Ben White could see Arsenal offer a more formidable approach to set-piece play.
Bizarrely enough, Arsenal’s first game of the 20/21 Premier League season is away to Brentford, Jover and Georgson’s former club.