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England’s Youth Development system handed over to Arsenal

This is just about the biggest story there is at the moment – and of course no newspaper is touching it.   In simple terms it is this…

The big clubs (not Arsenal) are trying to tap up kiddies from all over the world to do a patch and mend job on their teams, as their finances fall apart.  FIFA and UEFA are charging clubs, and everyone from Crewe Alex to clubs in France you didn’t even know existed are putting in claims).

Tottenham are now so far behind in any form of youth development they have pulled their reserve team out of the EPL Reserves League.

Sir Hardly Anyone (also known as The Almighty Lord Trevor Brooking) has written this week to say England as a country of developing footballers is about on a level with Eastern Samoa (well he didn’t quite say that, but you get the idea).

And in the middle of this is Arsenal.  Winners of the youth cup and the Youth League last year and currently beating everyone who comes near them in the Reserve league with a team of 17 year olds.

And – and this is my point – Arsenal have a reserve team made up mostly of Englishmen. Now I admit, I may have got one or two nationalities wrong here, so please correct me but I think that most or even all of these guys are English born…

James Shea, Luke Ayling, Kyle Bartley, Thomas Cruise, Craig Eastmond, Gavin Hoyte, Jay-Emmanuel Thomas, Luke Freeman, Conner Henderson, Henri Lansbury, Rhys Murphy, Mark Randall, Jay Simpson, Sanchez Watt.

There are many more in the youth team – I have only gone through those players who are listed by Arsenal as “Reserve” team players.

What this makes clear is several things.   While Chelsea have failed to bring through a single young talent from its ranks since John “the English don’t dive” Terry, Arsenal is brimming with them.

While Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and other clubs have gone around stealing young players from here there and everywhere, Arsenal has been developing young English talent.

Of course I know that we brought in Cesc, Clichy, Theo and Anelka as young men, but there has never been one suggestion of illegal activity.  Everything was above board and by the books.  Had it not been the club would have been fined.

The papers are making out that every big club is involved in child trafficking – and then fail to mention that Arsenal are not – because in fact Arsenal is the youth development system of football in England.  There is no one else.  Only us.

So we have Leeds accusing  Chelsea over 3 young players a couple of years back, the Kakuta affair (15 when he signed a contract with Chelsea in June 2007).    Reggina have accused Chelsea of tapping up Vincenzo Camilleri, also 15.

Rennes have accused Manchester City of unlawfully signing Jeremy Helan.   Swindon Town announced last week that they have made the FA aware of a new tapping up case.   Dario Gradi has claimed that Liverpool made an illegal approach for a 15-year-old player from Crewe Alexandra in Feb 2008.

There are now 41 Academies in the Premier and Football Leagues – and they have the right to register 40 boys a year from age 8 to 12.  Those that survive to 16 become “scholars”.  Only Arsenal run the system with any sign of success.  As a result of the failure of others there is a real chance that the EPL and FA will dismantle the system, which would harm Arsenal, while failing to control the maniacs and child-kidnappers (ok not really kidnappers, but I am getting carried away here, and I like over the top language) like Chelsea, Man U and the rest.

One thing we should also bear in mind as we watch the glorious flowering of our youth system… In England there is a fanatical desire to see 17 year olds burst on the scene.  In the somewhat more mature Europe first-team debuts are later – 21 or 22 is not uncommon.

For those who have ever groaned as Bendtner misses a shot, remember, in the rest of Europe he would only now be getting his first few games.

Some within the game know it has all gone wrong for them.  Brian Jones, head of Aston “hold your head” Villa’s academy, is quoted as saying “Villa spend a fortune looking at boys from six years old onwards.  With the best will in the world I wouldn’t know if a six, seven or eight year old is going to play in the Premier League in 10 or 12 years’ time. It’s ludicrous.”

So the general idea is that big clubs look for young kids, except to find them, and then when they don’t, go out and steal some more.

What Sir Hardly Anyone (ie Brooking) says is “We must all accept that for a country of some 60 million people, we are not producing the depth of players at the top level with the necessary technical skills now required by the major clubs and international teams.”

Untrue Sir Brook.  Arsenal is doing it – the rest of just dumbo maniacs let loose on an unsuspecting world, nurtured by a daily round of rancid journalism and the inept financial mismanagement of a bunch of bankers and their lackeys.

Three years ago The Great Lord Brooking Who Knows said we should have an elite coaching group to share and spread good practice around the country.

The FA, EPL and other leagues said no, and set up a review which reported two years ago, and led to another committee (Professional Game Youth Development Group) chaired by that Wilkinson character from Leeds.

It was disbanded in January.

And you know, it does not matter, because the model is there for all to see.  Just go and watch Arsenal reserves.

The Great and Glorious Lord Trev says, “A co-ordinated coaching structure and philosophy is still desperately needed with significant investment and resources.  “I have always wanted the FA, as the governing body, to lead this strategic role, as every federation does in all other Uefa countries.”

Well tough Lord Brook.  Because someone got there first, and did the job, and is now gaining all the benefits.

The future of youth football in England is safe.  It is run by Arsene Wenger.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

39 comments to England’s Youth Development system handed over to Arsenal

  • claptongoon

    Love it.
    ATID

  • “There’s only one Arsene Wenger.” Come on everybody, sing it to the tune of Guantanamera.

  • Ian Trevett

    Great article Tony. You know that the newspaper editors have been telling their writers to dig out the dirt on Arsenal’s youth policy – and they have found nothing.

  • chrisGoona

    excellent article!

  • pig

    this will never do. what will JT make of the fact that the up’n’coming English players are being trained to dive like eduardo?

    it is obvious though, that just as the best senior players want to play for top teams, the best youngsters want to learn their trade in the best setup possible.

    by my reckoning that makes it 1-0 to the Arsenal!

  • Davi

    I think one of the key differences is that the youth system forms a major part of arsenal’s transfer policy.
    We won’t spend much buying experienced players. Its usually 1 or 2 a season for no more than £12m.
    I think it is partly because of this, you see arsenal are more willing to shell out anywhere up to £5m for youngsters under 18. Ramsey (5m), Walcott (5m, rising to 10), Freeman (1m) & Nordtveit (2m) are examples (apologies if the figures are slightly off). Most signings are quite a bit less than that, but actually negotiating with the club and paying the fee keeps them happy, because at least they receive a decent amount of money for the work they did in bringing the player through.
    We also obviously have fantastic coaches who focus on technique more than at other clubs – so the kids who come through at arsenal can reap the benefits.
    The difference between our youth setup and others was noticeable in the fa youth cup final last season. Liverpool clearly had a talented group of players, but our side looked so much more mature. They just seemed to know what to do in more situations, and really controlled liverpool. And the passing & movement from our players was fantastic.

  • ben

    great article yet again. you speak the absolute truth and with insight and knowledge. yours is the only arsenal blog worth reading.

  • walter

    The good Lord AW, as always was thinking years ahead of the rest.
    Since I have arsenaltvonline I got the chance to watch the youth and reserves and sometimes I sit there looking at my computer with eyes wide open and I can swollow the mouthwater fast enough to avoid my shirt from getting wet.
    At times you see football that is unbelieveble to watch. “Whilst” (inside joke) watching the reserves play at Birmingham I said to my son: “they play at times even better and nicer then the first team”. I know the opposition isn’t as good as the first team gets but the technique and the movement is breath taking at times.
    Under the management of AW we set up our system and we will benefit from it in a few years time.
    Like Tony said a lot of the boys are English and so yes in maybe 5 or 6 years England will benefit as well. This is not my concern off course but I can understand that English people do care about it.
    I got a feeling that in 10 years time, England will have his eyes open and will finaly admit that Arsene Wenger has saved English football.
    The recognition for the making of the best Arsenal team ever will be given in 2 or 3 years from now on.

  • Frichie

    Brilliant post Tony, good job! I like the humour in it, but if it was of a more serious nature maybe some of the phoney journos for the press would pick it up (as it seems most of them search the blogs these days for inspiration)

    I wonder if Wenger will ever get knighted, he should have got one years ago! If that muppet Brooking got one..

  • Abhishek

    I bet England will 4-3-3 in 5 years time. The only condition being that Arsenal continues to do it for the next 5 years.
    I dare to say it because Arsenal youth and reserve have already switched to this formation to suit the first side. And assuming that atleast 3 to 4 players from Arsenal will be in the first eleven of England its not impossible.
    Well the idea is a bit too far fetched but the message is clear. I know Arsenal is being ridiculed as a foreign club right now. Who knows 5 years from now people will be amazed to know this fact.
    Would not it be similar to knowing the fact that Liverpool won PL for maximum number of times or Newcastle and Leeds were a major force in PL.
    But would not it be great to speculate what formation would England use based upon the strategy Arsenal used. Hail Wenger!!!!!

  • Knighthoods are given only to UK citizens and (I think) Commonwealth citizens.

    But the Lord Wenger got an honorary OBE or some such a few years back. He could get an hon knighthood I suppose like Bob Geldof who as an Irishman couldn’t get whatever he got, so he got an hon one (if you see what I mean).

    Personally I am still waiting for an honorary doctorate from London in recognition of my services to journalism.

  • Absolutely brilliant post Tony!
    Arsene Knows Best……….wow my initials too!!

  • Marc

    I’m a little concerned about the sudden rash of allegations re: poaching young players. Merida (sorry about the spelling) was caught up in a claim a few years ago, I can’t remember exactly but I don’t think Arsenal were punished but Merida was fined about 2.5 million euros.

    If FIFA and / or UEFA has decided to go for blood we need to be cautious.

    Chelsea seem to be claiming that they did nothing wrong because it wasn’t the player who signed the contract but his mother. Surely a parent or guardian would be the ones to sign any legal documents?

  • Cape Gooner

    Abhishek – England should be playing 433 now. It is the perfect way to accommodate Lampard and Gerrard.

  • Flint McCullough

    Yet more good stuff, Tony.

    I don’t think winning the FA Youth Cup in itself is important. We have won it 7 times now and I would guess that we haven’t had more than 4 or 5 players,who had significant careers with us, from all the previous 6 wins.

    What I noticed was the style of play and level of skill shown from last seasons team. They played with a pace and a technical level of a 1st team. That is rare at youth level.

    To be fair, we do not really know what the level, coming through, at other clubs is.

    Your list of English lads does include a couple of London Irish but same difference. What is also an achievement is that the English/Irish element in the youth/reserve squad have to come from a catchment area of something like 1 hours travel from the training centre, ie London/Home Counties. This means we are denied talent from the traditional hot-spots of the NE & NW. That explains why the likes of Theo & Bartley had to be bought at a later age.

    Arsene said a few years into his reign, that English players could reach the required technical levels & it would take 10 years from starting a proper acadamy system.

    This bloke is the absolute DBs yet all he gets from the media etc, in fact all but the level headed Arsenal fans, is ridicule.

  • Reece

    nice article but it makes me wonder, how many youth/reserve players will actually get into our first team. We already have a very young squad and I am sure wenger is looking to keep the majority together for the long run

  • aqqe

    Conor Henderson is from Ireland.

    And this comment wont be any better than that, I’m in a hurry you see! Good post as always.

  • diceman

    Love it, there’s only one person who could produced a player like Wilshere(young, gifted, crafty, smart, English, not a cunt) in the modern football era.

  • LRV

    Absolutely brilliant, Tony.

    Even now, the likes of Justin Hoyte & David Bently are there ready. That cunts, Cashely C(ass)ole is already a household name. Very soon, not only England, but indeed other English clubs will be lining up to beg for players from the Arsenal. Up Arsenal!

  • DJ

    Great stuff again,
    As you say, many others not listed, we musn’t forget Frimpong, as good as any, England youth international, defensive midfield, exceptional for age but injured at present, when fit will go straight into reserves starting eleven this season

  • Michael the Gooner

    I do some scouting for a team in London(not Wengers boys).I can assure you all their is more great youngplayers coming through.I have seen the u9s,11s and 14s.The u11s are very special.The u14s and all the teams play in the same way as the senior side.All the players are comfortable on the ball,most are two footed.
    Arsenal are the envy of the country,so the media have a pop.As i am writing this,that wanker on Talk Sport is saying we should boo Edwardo.I hope he puts Terry on his arse and scores.

  • Aqqe – I based my list of Englishness on place of birth – the Arsenal site says Conner Henderson was born in Sidcup. But of course I know you and your parents and grandparents can all have been born and brought up outside England, and you can play for England, so it is not a very good guide. That’s also why (in reverse as it were) I missed Frimpong.

  • Arsenaly

    great article !!!

  • Will

    I would not go as far as to say that we have been “clean” right from the start of things.

    During the times the bulk of our academy was made of foreign players and while Damien Comolli was at our club, our own methods of scouting and conduct were questionable. Cesc Fabregas was one such questionable signing after his parents persuaded Cesc to move on as his opportunities were limited at Barca, and only a “Part-Exchange” of Gio Van Brockhorst eased Barcelona’s frustrations as originally, Barcelona were not entitled to any compensation whatsoever. Merida’s case was quite different, and it was his parents that had contacted Cesc’s agent to engineer a move to Arsenal and break the pre-contract agreement – hence Fran Merida was the one who was fined, and not the club.

    However, though intial stages could be questionable, Arsene Wenger was a “pioneer” in his work and provided young players with tremendous first team opportunities and potential, and his reputation is second to none in developing and nurturing them. Today, like how Samir Nasri has put it, it would be every young French player’s dream to play for Arsenal – might add for all youngsters around the world. We don’t need to go underground to sign young players, we can just approach officially and provide the adequate amount of compensation for the player to sign on mutually-agreed terms for both clubs. Clubs will be well aware that it is in the best interests of any young player to move to Arsenal for a quality education and to fulfill their potential, and will be willing to negotiate suitable terms – quite different to the story with other clubs. Platini’s constant citing of Arsenal as a club which “poaches” young players is absolutely as baseless as it is derogatory as we are one of the few clubs that does this all within the framework, and should be respected for that.

    Clichy, Sunu, Coquelin, join a long list of French young players whose dreams are to play for Arsenal, and joined on negotiated terms. Luke Freeman, Jamie Edge other examples of recent purchases and our lists can go on. So let’s be proud to be a Gunner, and watch as other teams fall victim to their own questionable antics and behaviour.

    In Arsene we trust.

  • str8goon

    A.W. knows best. The man has looked into the future and has seen what must be done for his club and the country in which the club resides. People have always said that Arsenal isn’t an English team because they do not have many Englishman in the first team and well thats true. Arsene’s one and only job is to manage Arsenal, make them competative and win trophies for the club. He’s not supposed to be producing talent for England that is not his job, yet he is doing it. Better than anyone in the entire country. He realizes that he needs to give something back to the club and country he has called home for the past 14 years. He realizes that Arsenal need to continue its legacy of greatness even after he’s gone, that is why he has created this world-class academy and scouting network. The man is a visionary for the game and should be reguarded as such. This is the point where I write a plaudit about Wenger…”Theres only one Arsene Wenger”, “Arsene knows best”. But i will say “Wenger, the savior of English football.”

    Gooner4lyf

  • eduardo

    I would say that something that puts Arsenal’s academy ahead of many others in England is that the players size is the least important thing judged when Arsenal coaches assess the player. Skill, Techniquie, Attitude, speed, footballing brain are all treasured at Arsenal while at other academies its size and strenght. We see it week in week out at U16 level that these giants of teams come to play Arsenal and some succeed in winning or drawing due to their great size and strenght but by U18 the Arsenal lads pure technique has by far surpassed their opponents and can play their way around the larger teams and totally outplay them.
    We seen it last season in the youth cup final where pool had big apes of defenders who did not know what was happening when faced with skillfull fleetfooted forwards, and pool were not the only side that were bemused by the skill level of Arsenal players.

    One of the big problmes for alot of clubs are the moron fans who want to see brute force triumph over skill as they have been reared on a diet of mistrust of skillfull players, partly cos most skillful players they have seen are foreign and those that were English were run down in the media as the cause for England national side losing major games. Look how Matt Le Tiss was constantly overlooked by England, if he had been French, Spanish or Italian they would have built the side around him, and Le Tiss was not the first or the last great England talent who like so many English talents was mistrusted and so overlooked or blamed for the ills of poorer players. Enlanad would rather a hard running, hard tackling Bryan Robson type player than a Liam Brady or a Cesc.

    Would have expeced more from Brooking but not suprised by Wilkinson. HAs anyone seen the poor standard of England coaches at underage level, with S Pearce the typical poor coach at the peak of the underage level(U21) just confirming that England, even with an italian in charge of the seniors, still crave power over gile

  • Jonybwoi

    u there tony are what they used to call a genious . . . . and they are a long gone by species . . . i always say we as arsenal fans have tm think and not wait to be brainwashed. . . wenger is a man i admire and his brains are what will make us the best in the game . . . i predict at least 3 world player of the years in the next 10 YEARS AND MORE TO FOLLOW. . . HAIL THE GREATEST TEAM IN ANY SYSTEM THERE IS!!!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Great article Tony ,but just a note of caution,not all of the youth players
    wiil make it to the top.Many ,for a myriad of reasons will fall by the wayside.I remember a Man Ure player,Peter Coyne [i think it was ],scoring five for England u15s vs West Germany in 1975 but never heard of since.
    If AW is still in charge when these boys mature I think they have every good chance of success.

  • absolutely wonderful. The fact that the media is not saying anything about it has just confirmed what we all have always known … They hate us.

  • Faron

    Will. Your bang on mate.

  • jazbo

    Once again Tony you have come up with the goods, what a great read, yes it’s true that our club leads the way when it comes to youth development, not only in skill and technique but in attituide, those players who have the right mix will always make it and go on to have bright futures in the game at the highest level, even those lads who have for what ever reason have been found wanting, go on to make it at in football at a lower league level or head off into the lower leagues in Europe because it’s well known that if your a product of the Arsenal youth system then you’ve been schooled the right way in every aspect of the game.
    Sadly some young English players have their heads turned by the media and certain other agents who do not have the players best intrest at heart, these young players leave only to become consumed with bitternes towards our club, a prime example = David Bently, another example of a player who left because he was impatient, Rowan Ricketts, these two players should serve as an example of what can happen if you don’t have the right attitude from a young age.
    Can we be the breeding ground for the spine of a future English team that everyone can support without tribal loyalites coming to the fore, yes i think we can.
    The future of English football is in safe hands, Arsenal hands.!!!

  • wow this amazing…. Gunner 4 LifE!

  • tekla

    However much I may have liked Mr Wenger, he has failed to give us results that would have made Arsenal amongst the top 5 clubs of Europe during the last 5 years! His youth policy is only for a “feeder club” and not one in the Premiership. His failings has been in getting rid of experience too soon and not spending enough where it counts. Denilson will never be a Gilberto; Diaby will never be a Viera! Neither Bendtner nor Eduardo have the killer instinct! They are untility players, like most of the Arsenal team. Ramsey may take over from Cesc when the latter is absent, however he is not that good, yet! As for the defence we have 2 old French players, 2 not so good Swiss, 2 French full backs who are not “that good”! We have no decent goalkeeper! Where does that leave us? A Board who are only interested in the value of their shares; don’t want to risk any more capital or don’t want to borrow to create that extra achievement and wealth! How do I reach to this opinion? Well the Chairmean and the Chief Executive are both on record expressing their conviction tht not winning anything is not the end of the world! Just to remind them that Arsenal is the only team in the Premiership that has not been relegated and between 1971 and 1995 we were an average team while Liverpool and Man U shared the honours alternately! We were not a “top” team, until Arsenal brought into the club some “established talent” from 1993/4 onwards! We just extinguished them without replacement and fell from the top again! Youth without adequate blend of experience wins you nothing! So I would like to see this Board evicted; the manager let go!!!; bring in either Guus Hiddink or Martin O’Neill as manager and David Dein as Chief Executive! Sorry guys, but the truth always hurts thse who are serious about their love for the club and I have been a supporter for more than 60 years!

  • Dré

    Hi Tony,
    love your blog, read it daily 🙂 I did a similar post on a footy forum yesterday. Exciting times ahead for us me thinks 🙂

    Here is the link if you want to have a look.

    http://www.thegoalposts.com/showthread.php?t=81633

    Cheers

  • LRV

    tekla: Before you ever come back to comment on this blogsite, I suggest you look at what is stated at the top.

    No! you are not a supporter. You have never been. A supporter does not comment the way you have done; completely bereft of facts. I suggest you go look at Dictionary.com or the Oxford English Dictionary for the meaning of Supporter or Fan.

    I suspect that you are not even an Arsenal fan. You may be a Spud or ManUre or Chavski. Whichever you are, don’t return to this site. It is reserved for Supporters of Lord Wenger and Arsenal only. At the top it say “Untold Arsenal, supporting the Lord Wenger in all he does.” It is not and will never be for plastic fans, glory hunters or fans of other clubs.

    Thank you and Good bye.

  • Adam Smith

    tekla is it this time. Can’t you guys think for yourself. Sorry Tony.

    arseven (Arsenal fan)TeamTalk
    Posted 09/09/2009 @ 15:51 View all arseven’s posts

    However much I may have liked Mr Wenger, he has failed to give us results that would have made Arsenal amongst the top 5 clubs of Europe during the last 5 years! His youth policy is only for a “feeder club” and not one in the Premiership. His failings has been in getting rid of experience too soon and not spending enough where it counts. Denilson will never be a Gilberto; Diaby will never be a Viera! Neither Bendtner nor Eduardo have the killer instinct! They are untility players, like most of the Arsenal team. Ramsey may take over from Cesc when the latter is absent, however he is not that good, yet! As for the defence we have 2 old French players, 2 not so good Swiss, 2 French full backs who are not “that good”! We have no decent goalkeeper! Where does that leave us? A Board who are only interested in the value of their shares; don’t want to risk any more capital or don’t want to borrow to create that extra achievement and wealth! How do I reach to this opinion? Well the Chairmean and the Chief Executive are both on record expressing their conviction tht not winning anything is not the end of the world! Just to remind them that Arsenal is the only team in the Premiership that has not been relegated and between 1971 and 1995 we were an average team while Liverpool and Man U shared the honours alternately! We were not a “top” team, until Arsenal brought into the club some “established talent” from 1993/4 onwards! We just extinguished them without replacement and fell from the top again! Youth without adequate blend of experience wins you nothing! So I would like to see this Board evicted; the manager let go!!!; bring in either Guus Hiddink or Martin O’Neill as manager and David Dein as Chief Executive! Sorry guys, but the truth always hurts thse who are serious about their love for the club and I have been a supporter for more than 60 years!

  • LRV

    Adam, the plagiarists just keep coming thick and fast. Thanks for catching them. But whatever he calls himself, tekla or arseven, whether they are the same person or seperate individuals, they can both go burn in their CUNTitudinal world.

  • walter

    When I was in LOndon today I spoke with a fan who supports the Arsenal from 1953 and he was full of hope and expectancy for the forthcoming years. His name shure wasn’t tekla or arseven. 😉

  • Adebayor and City make it four out of four Manchester City 4 Arsenal 2 .