“It was impossible because I was not well at the time and so Mertesacker was the only alternative," said the Dutchman to Voetbal International.
“Recently I spoke to Ljungberg about that period and he said that he regrets not listening to me in a number of situations.
“I said that is part of his learning curve as a manager.
“The majority of football managers don't have a clue what they are doing and try to cover that with a lot of words.
“Freddie had to take the team in a difficult period, with lots of matches and an unbalanced team with no leaders and no clear playing style.
“He did his best and had the guts to give minutes to young players."