Perhaps it was partly down to his upbringing as the son of a “compassionate” priest that meant when Jonas Eidevall’s Rosengard players were about to embark on a cross-country run in freezing weather in the Swedish winter because their training-ground pitch was blanketed in snow, his instinct was to boost their morale by declaring he was going to run the gruelling route with them.
By his own admission, the new Arsenal manager is not somebody who frequents church, but nonetheless his loved ones’ influence come across in the testimony of former players from his successful career in Scandinavia. They speak of a manager who cared deeply about his players, as well as being studious in his efforts to improve their tactical and technical skills.
One of Eidevall’s signings in the first of his two spells in charge of Rosengard was an Arsenal heroine in England defender Anita Asante, who was part of the north Londoners’ quadruple-winning side of 2007. Now at Aston Villa, she fondly recalls playing under the 38-year-old as they won the Swedish title in 2013 and 2014.
“I felt like he was a very genuine person right from our first meeting,” Asante told Telegraph Sport. “I felt a sense of trust and felt reassured. He was a very good motivator, he was really intelligent and no session was ever boring.
“During pre-season one day, our pitch had been snowed in so we couldn’t train on it, so we had to do this gruelling run in the huge local park next door instead and everybody is thinking ‘oh my God, no, this is going to be hell’ and so he then turns around and says ‘I know it’s hard, I know it sucks’ and runs it with us. That spoke of his character, and his energy made you think it was fun.
“I remember a pre-game meeting when he was giving us a talk and he played a basketball video, with a coach giving super-motivational speeches to the players in this NBA team and geeing each other up, and everybody in the room felt empowered by his presentation.
“It was new, it was cool and it was inspiring, filling up the room with energy. That, and so many other things, meant he was respected, and everyone loved him.”
That Rosengard side included other global stars including Germany legend Anja Mittag, Switzerland forward Ramona Bachmann and New Zealand’s Ali Riley to name but a few, and therefore Asante has no doubt that Eidevall will feel at home managing Arsenal’s big-name players such as Holland striker Vivianne Miedema, England’s Nikita Parris and Scotland’s Kim Little.