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The world has fallen out of love with our kids

As Adam Smith pointed out yesterday, you couldn’t watch last night’s game on any sort of TV system anywhere south of Pluto.

In fact if you tried BBC radio you would have found that in the summary half hour from 10 to 10.30 (when a couple of extra times were going on) the match actually didn’t exist.   At around 10.40 they gave some results and ended, “and there were also victories for….  Arsenal.”

Meanwhile there were some snide jibes about how wonderful it was that Manchester City and Liverpool are not “disrespecting” the competition – Man Arab will be playing billions of pounds worth of players since if they don’t these guys don’t get a game.  And Liverpool put out some £60m worth to sneak their little victory against a 3rd division team.

So times have now changed.  A year ago we were on TV and it was the Arsenal Dream Machine that would take on the world.  Now, playing the youth team against the team top of the 2nd division is “disrespectful”

There was also a very interesting email that appeared in our columns yesterday about the youth policy which basically said it didn’t function.

So, has the world fallen out of love with our youth policy? Come to that, what is a youth policy?   Have we, without noticing, been following the ‘buy, buy, buy’ policy that many posters on other sites have demanded?

If we look at last night’s team consider for example Szczesny, he signed aged 17.   Few goalkeepers appear in top class games at that age, so we have been training him up?  Is he part of the youth policy?

Gibbs joined us from Wimbledon aged 18.  Is that part of our youth policy?

If we move away from there to the recognised first teamers, think of Cesc.  He joined us aged 15.  Is that young enough – or is the fact that he was with Barca before that mean that he is not in our youth policy?

The fact is that prior to Wenger we were in the doldrums for a few years with our youth policy.  He sorted it out and as we know most of the double winning youth team from last year had been together since the age of 11.   So, as we can clearly see, it took the Lord Wenger four or five years to get the youth scouting system sorted, and then we were able to bring in the first bunch of mega kids, who are now coming through aged 18 and 19.

That’s one part of the story – it is too soon to see all the wonderful results from the development of locally produced youngsters turning up in the first team – because we started with them seven years ago aged 11.

But the other part of the story takes us back to the current squad.  We might look at how many were brought in as the finished product, and how many were brought in still needing development.

If we take Ramsey and Walcott, they came in from other clubs – at a very young age, and were certainly not ready immediately for regular first team places.   We also had Vela – is he part of the youth set up?  Joined at 19 – too old maybe.

Certainly some players in the first team were ready to play from the off.  I’ll leave out the keepers because they mature later, but we would all agree that Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Silvestre, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Eduardo came in ready to play.   I make that 8.

Song, Djourou, Senderos, Clichy, Diaby, Eboue, Fabregas, Denilson, Ramsey, Wilshere, Merida, Vela, Walcott, Bendtner, Ramsey were not ready to play and needing bringing through.  Indeed some said Song should never play for Arsenal again after one particular game.   I make that 14.

(Actually Eboue like Toure is very interesting – coming from Breveren.  Was that a youth policy?  Seemed like it to me).  (Sorry if I spelled Breveren wrong).

I am fully recognising that we paid money for many of these players rather than getting them from school.  But that’s my point.  The first generation of wonder kids from school joined at 11 and won the double last year.  They are not quite ready yet.

But the interim group who joined at later stages in their teams, who were then nurtured and developed so that they were ready to play regularly for Arsenal have come through, and represent the majority of our first team.

Which is why so many people call for Wenger to spend.

We are in fact a mix of experience and youth, of bought in players and those brought through.

It seems a fair old mix to me.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

38 comments to The world has fallen out of love with our kids

  • voodoo priest

    who gives a monkeys?
    we won and i couldn’t give a fuck what the world likes.
    yes,they have money we haven’t and have to play some fringe players who are worth millions but don’t forget their our first is not even worth half what chelsea,manUre,man citeh and liverfool’s 2nd team are.
    so are we to drop out of the cups because of that?
    we play what we’ve got and were happy to see our kids display, so screw every1 else and what they think.

  • sebjob

    have to correct you on one, Gibbs joined in 2004 from the old Wimledon hence joined at the age of 16 not 18. Otherwise good points, the club is in good stead and with local school talents as you put in coming through there is potential. Randall (starting to have my doubts), Wilshere, Simpson, Watt, Emmanuel-Thomas and Lansbury are so called players signed from school soon ready to challenge, while Aneke, Ansah, Frimpong, Eastmond and Afobe are prospects not far away of that crew. Bit of unpolished diamonds coming from other youth systems, Vela signed earlier but not publicly, which is a system it seems Arsenal tend to keep in the mix. Good question, for example Terry joined Chelskji at 12 is that young enough?

  • sebjob

    …and the younger hoyte of course not to be forgotten

  • walter

    The correct spelling is Beveren, Tony. A little town, between Gent(Ghent?) and Antwerp(en), which had a partnership with Arsenal for some years that have ended a few years back. Yaya Toure from Barcelona also has played in Beveren.
    I still feel sorry for the end of that partnership because Arsenal came with a team every summer to play Beveren who was in Belgium PL at that time.
    So we went there and I saw Cesc playing over there when he didn’t have to shave himself. 😉 And many of other now regular first teamers.
    It looks like it is not political correct these days to say anything good about Arsenal. If we win its always because the opposition had a poor day, if we lose we are not good, strong, blah blah blah enough.
    There is always something bad to say.

    What you say in the youth policy and the harvest that we can have in the next years is right. It is a lont time process and we still have lots of work to do. I think that the real harvest only will come if the regulars from now will leave the club. At the moment that (pinch of salt) Cesc leaves next year, Gallas stops, Clichy goes to Madrid, and who else goes to “Barmiljuvrealatletcio” we will see that we have the backup already in our team.
    The most difficult thing will be to keep them happy while they are waiting for their chance.

  • LRV

    All the kids brought in at age 11, as well as the kids bought ‘Raw’, needing development are all part of our youth system in my book. So long as we DEVELOP & School our youngsters in the Arsenal style of play, they are all part of our Youth Project. Whatever anyone else says is their own problem.

    The reason our kids are not on tele yesterday is down to the failure of the BBC & ITV to win the television rights to those league cup matches. I think it may be a fallout from the Setanta collapse. Besides, I have a feeling that they all will be interested now that we are in the fourth round.

  • Stephen

    I hope the world has fallen out of love with our kids. This takes the spotlight off them and allows the club to develop them appropriately. It also means there is less competition for talented youths being acquired into the development system at the club. I believe journalists and the media in general are unable to place a value on “up and coming” young players when compared to “bought in” players who have a transfer fee attached to them. The bigger the transfer fee, the better the player, in their eyes. That is why they are astounded that Vermaelen “only cost” $10 million.

    As far as the youth / young / inexperienced players at the club are concerned, I believe the game at Portsmouth, last season showed that we probably (I haven’t counted in detail) have 25 players outside our starting eleven, right now, that can play clubs in the bottom half of the table and win, regardless of their playing experience.

    It is this strength in depth, given more time, that will, supplemented with the occasional purchase, allow us to regain our rightful position.

  • Fido

    “Gibbs joined us from Wimbledon aged 18. Is that part of our youth policy?” Well if Gibbs joined us at 18 from Wimbledon than that would make him 23 years old now. The least you can do before you write an article is to get your facts right. Gibbs joined us in 2004 form Wimbledon’s youth team at the age of 14 which gave him 4-5 years of Arsenal youth training. I think that should warrant as part of Arsenal’s youth policy.

  • migaloo

    voodoopriest, agree 100%, are we the new millwall? No one likes us, we don’t care, we are Arsenal, super Arsenal, no one likes we don’t care…….

  • Ian Trevett

    Anti-Arsenal bias? Maybe. I think we are also seeing the usual build-em-up so we can knock-em-down.
    Wilshere the wonder-kid, England’s greatest prospect, the future of football in this country. And then wait until the young kid does something wrong and hammer him.

  • CypriotGooner

    Didn’t we buy Vela at 16-17?
    I thing that was the case and then he was sent out on loan in Spain!!
    Otherwise excellent article..
    Keep up the good work

  • Fido – I might be digging a deeper hole for myself, but I take my info from http://www.arsenal.com which says today on http://www.arsenal.com/reserves-youth/players/kieran-gibbs

    Born: September 26, 1989

    Previous Club(s)Wimbledon

    Joined Arsenal September 10, 2007

    Now that would make him 10 years old in September 1999 and 20 years old in September 2009. That would make him 18 years old in September 2007 – although I admit it depends which part of the month you get to.

    As for, “The least you can do before you write an article is to get your facts right” when have I ever said that my facts are right? If I did say that I didn’t mean to. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • As for Carlos Vela…

    The site says

    Born March 01, 1989

    Joined Arsenal January 01, 2008

    I think the point here is that “signing” for the club has all sorts of meanings – I can’t recall the exact detail of the arrangements but players may be “with” the club from a young age, but not “signed” in the sense of professional contracts.

    As I recall, and I am not going back to check because I have a client who is screaming for me to finish a piece of writing for him, there are different rules depending on age and also nationality, and quite probably (this being football) whether your granny ever visited Gibraltar.

  • haho

    Tony, you are digging. Joined means he became a pro (or signed a full scholarship) that day. I believe he was made an pro. He joined in 2004, at 15. That is it…

    And Vela was ours earlier as well.

  • Marc

    Tony – All you can do is put it down to the anti Arsenal media just looking for another reason to have a go at us. Fergie’s fledglings are still talked about and how Gigs is a model professional. What they don’t mention is that Giggs came through the Man City youth system and Fergie nicked him when he was 16. As for Liverpool last night – good grief. Leeds had a goal incorrectly wiped off for offside and Mascherano should have seen a straight red. I also find it strange that the media think that Liverpool are doing the competition a good service by fielding players worth a small fortune (most of whom are not good enough for a 1st team place anyway) when it is this irresponsible attitude to money that has lead to Liverpool having major financial problems.

  • Faron

    We wernt on tele on the 1st game last year if i remember. Was it Doncaster we played? But the after that we were on tele until we got knocked out by Burnley. I should imagine it will be the same this year.

    Whatever the Minor details are, Gibbs is Awsome and in my eyes the better of the three Left backs we have. I dont think Clichy is playing to well at the moment so i’m hoping AW will rest him so Gibb will get some games under his belt.

  • Fido

    Tony Attwood – Gibbs signed his professional contract with Arsenal in 2007. The year he moved to Arsenal along with Abu Ogogo and James Dunne was when Wimbledon disbanded in 2004. In which he featured regularly for Arsenal’s U18 youth team. 2007 was the year he signed a professional contract. You can’t do that at the age of 11 or 12 because it would be illegal.

  • sebjob

    whether or not on pro contract, a lot of them are signed at seven or nine and it would be impossible to not have them signing from somewhere; the question is from where and at what level of development? A lot of supporters are feeling the bedbugs bite, and want to buy a solution that is ready made. Rome was not built in one day, and as the article points out the fruits of local talent is coming now while a lot of those coming through now are players that showed potential elsewhere to be refined at Arsenal.So basically, the question then is who should take the spot in the team, from outside or within the club? and then what will happen to the work of ten years re-building the academy from one of the lacks of Grahams reign, would the talents be patient or choose more lucrative offers?

  • pig

    arguing about signing dates is missing the whole point. the point is that the press built the youngsters up last year hoping to see them fail. now that its obvious that theyre not going to fail in spectacular style they can’t be bothered to even mention us unless its in connection with disrespecting the cup.

    no spin, no story.

    on a side note, i finally got my new pc hooked up to the plasma and watched the match in full screen from arsenal tv online. the quality was great even if the commentary was poor. and there were loads of scam links to the game which asked you to download spyware riddled apps. live-player is one.

  • LRV

    We definitely have a wealth of talent coming through and as previously been pointed out, the questions is how we can keep them happy enough to wait for their chances. We most certainly don’t want our investment in terms of time & money on the lads to go to waste. If only we had an affliate club to keep them playing till we are ready to utilise their talents professionally.

  • steww

    Tony the quote with which you put down your heckler was exquisite.

  • walter

    As long as we love our kids, they will be allright.

  • Amaury

    Szczesny signed at 15

  • Amaury

    Gibbs joined at 16

  • eduardo

    Tony as others have pointed out when Arsenal.com say someone signed it means either as a full scholar or as a pro depending on which it was, Gibbs joined at 14, Szczsney joined by 16,

    There is definatly some loss of love for the Arsenal youths, some sad journo in an article at start of the season even tried to say Jack Wilshere was not an Arsenal youth product, cos before he joined the Arsenal Academy at HAle End aged 9, he had spent a few wet weeks with Luton. For me this was the first dig by a media who just want Arsenal to buy buy buy. Look at Liverpool, they have won 2 fa youths cups and been beaten in another final by Arsenal in the last four years yet it seems none of them even get a game in the CC, even against a 3rd tier team. Media don’t ask why, they quicker ask why was Torres not played.
    We have muppets like Paul Merson saying Wenger should pick the entire first team in the CC and have a better chance of winning it, funny how short Merse’s memory is, he made his debut in the league cup way back when.
    The way sky have harped on about Wilshere being involved in the J Thomas sending off tells its own story, it got higher billing than Macherano whacking a leeds player to the ground with a wild swing of his arm across the back of the leeds guys head, but this is not seen by sky as an unsubstantiated claim by the WBA manager that Jack refused to shake hands, that JAck insulted Thomas, yet SKY’s own pictures of the even shows J Thomas elbow Jack across the side of the head, then both players said no more than a couple of words to each other and no sign of this supposed offer of a handshake that the reported refusal of insulted Thomas so much that he lashed out and grabbed Jack by the throat.

  • walter

    Eduardo I wondered if I was the only one to have seen it like you describe it. The TV moaners moaned about 45 minutes that they didn’t want to see the behaviour of Jack ????? Because he held his head after bein elbowed the first time and then exchanged words and then hold his head again when Thomas took him by the throat.
    Would it have been the other way round I think they would stopped all broadcasting on all channels and would have went live in to the Emirates to give another example of that cheating Arsenal and the way they behave of disbehave on the pitch. Newspapers would have printed an extra edition with headlines like and mentioning that Arsene didn’t see it.

    I read in the headlines newspapers writing in disbelieve that AW claimed he couldn’t hear the words exchanged. Now I wonder in a stadium with some 56.000 people screaming and shouting, if you are some 50 meters out of the action : which person could hear what was said ???? Maybe the bionic man in the TV serie of the old days but no normal human being could have heard it. And yet the newspapers try to make AW look like a liar.

  • sebjob

    well put eduardo

  • don't believe the hype

    I thought the fact that Jack is an up-coming English talent would have protected him from some of the media hypocrisy, but it seems that by playing for Arsenal, he is foreign by association and therefore fair game as far as they are concerned.

  • mingus

    Sky Sports reported that “Benitez had named an unrecognisable starting Xl” that saw off Leeds. Unrecognisable to whom? Out of the starting 11, I personally recognised Babel, Carragher, Aurelio, Dossena, Reira and Mascherano, plus substitutes Gerrard, Johnson and Skrtel.
    It seems that, early on, Wenger’s use of “the kids” was seen as disrespectful to the competition, (even though it injected great interest and energy to what would otherwise be a tired and lame old competition.) But now that others have followed suit, it is to be admired. Such is the way with a man well ahead of his time.

  • Abhishek

    Hi

    Just missed out on the name of Van persie. Was he a young recruit or ready to play material. Can someone please tell me?

  • Sean

    Very quick.
    I was on yesterday.
    Barnet FC/non league supporter.
    I won’t outstay my welcome.

    To the outsider, the negative thing isn’t what Arsenal do that Chelsea don’t do or what Liverpool do that Man. U. don’t do.
    Broadly speaking they (including Arsenal) all do the same.
    And it’s no skin off my nose if Man. U. play their stewards or their hot dog sellers in the next round.

    No, the issue is that Youth/Reserve teams are now swamped with SO MUCH MONEY that clubs in the Premiership can sweep past Championship, League 1 and League 2 teams as if they don’t exist.

    Players who used to play, and not ‘on loan’, first team football for the likes of Orient (like Laurie Cunningham), QPR (like Gerry Francis) or Fulham (like Paul Parker) would no longer play their 100 games for those clubs (see Walcott and Ramsey).
    Instead, they’d now warm benches for the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham and the divide is ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE.

    How can that be a good thing for either Arsenal or the likes of Barnet?

    If, as some people have commented, they don’t care…..fine, you’ve got exactly the competition you deserve because it looks like the last 8 in the League Cup this season will be what you want:
    the top four, Man. City, Everton, Spurs and Bolton.

    How boring is that?

    Want an idea to improve the competition?
    Premiership clubs, unless drawn against each other, automatically have to play away…….just like the Arsenal ‘kids’ did at Turf Moor last season…….before they lost 2-0.

  • lordgunner

    why are you complaining sean about arsenal.if you look our back up first team they are around 18 years old , we are not city chav or united where 25 years old players are happy to seat on the bench and getting well pay.
    we loan quiet few players down the league ,who have done well for this club.if you look well, you can see some after leaving still playing in the lower league and feed smaller club with good player.

    actually you are complaining more because we dint really loan more players to Barnett.simple,you are playing in league 2 ,who is too low level for some of our youngsters

    and since you take on Theo and Ramsey ,Theo is now English international as is Ramsey.Southampton would have sell him anyway for financial problem .Theo don’t seat on the bench now , he is our first team right winger.when cesc gone, Ramsey going to take his place

    burnley ,millwall and other lower team have done well down the years and beat premiership team ,that’s why cup competition as so great because you never know.burnley was playing the final last year
    you need to stop blaming the big team and look a little better at your own team.you dont need billions to be succesfull,you need to be clever and sometime luck. burnley, Bolton,Charlton have prove it to you.in europe is the same ,small team have raise above them-self and challenge the best (chievo,auxerre,Bilbao,villarreal,etc…)

    as for the media i don t give s**t what they think.we are arsenal.nobody like us anymore we dont care

  • Sean

    Nothing to do with me going to Barnet at all.
    Remember that the Arsenal Reserves play at Barnet so my club does VERY well out of Arsenal thank you very much.

    Also remember that ‘success’ is relative.
    Arsenal haven’t actually moved anywhere in the League since the 50’s…..they were about 2nd, 3rd or 4th then, they’re about 2nd, 3rd or 4th now.
    In that time, Barnet have moved from the old Athenian League to 4th in the old 4th Division; a jump of about 120 places I reckon.

    If you’d only read what I had to say instead of immediately jumping to conclusions.
    I spoke about the ridiculous money within the Premiership (the Premiership, not just Arsenal but certainly including Arsenal) which has made all that the Premiership touches what it is today……..uncompetitive at the top, uncompetitive in the middle, mildly competitive in the bottom five, four or five teams yo-yo-ing between divisions; and a League Cup competition which is in danger of simply being a Premiership cup play-off by next month competed for by largely reserve sides.

    And, frankly, the idea that the media don’t like Arsenal is absolutely daft but, alas, exactly what any blinkered fan of Chelsea, Man. U. or Liverpool would say of their own club.
    I’ve news for you, you’re all WRONG.
    The media (SKY) invented the Premiership!
    Why would they be biased against one of their darlings?

    You don’t think that Man. U. fans believe the media to be biased against them? Why doesn’t Ferguson talk to the BBC then?

  • eduardo

    sean you will find that fergie does not talk to the BBC cos they linked his family to dodgy transfer deals

  • notlager

    Sean,

    Do you know how many youth players Arsenal sign every season?
    Do you know how many PL, CL and FA cup games Ramsey and Wolcott got involved with, either from the bench or as starters?
    Do you know how many players from the CC team yesterday came through the ranks of Arsenal’s Academy?
    Do you think it’s a coincidence young football players are attracted to Arsenal?
    Do you think any of the Barnet players will have to go through what Eduardo had to endure from the press in the UK and as a consequence will have to endure from opposition fans in the future?

    Saying ‘you’re all wrong’ from someone who doesn’t like ‘immediately jumping to conclusions’ is quite rich. Next time try and do a little research before you get on your high horse. If you want to vent your frustations go write to the FA for allowing suggar daddy money to pour into the PL. Believe me this is the wrong place and the wrong club you’re picking on.

  • Sean

    I said ‘You’re all wrong’ once and it was in relation to the idea that any Arsenal, Man. U., Liverpool or Chelsea fan might think that that the ‘media’ are against their club.
    To those (including Arsenal fans) who fall into that category I’ll say it again……’You’re all wrong’. Indeed, you couldn’t be more wrong. FACT.

    And I agree that of the top clubs, Arsenal clearly have more about them than the others in terms of wage (still ridiculous wages incidentally) structure etc. but please notlager, provide a list of those Arsenal youth players, since 2000, that have clocked up 50 appearances for the first team.
    Come back to me with that figure……then we’ll talk.

    Poaching (sorry, signing) players from clubs like Cardiff or Southampton doesn’t count.

  • Sean

    Sorry, one more thing.
    Asking why young Arsenal players are attracted to Arsenal is like Mrs. Merton asking Debbie McGee, ‘What first attracted you to millionaire Paul Daniels?’!

  • walter

    The first thing we should agree on Sean is from when do you count a player as an “arsenal product”. From the age of… ? Because for some might be from -18 year, for some -16, for some -10 year.

  • Sean

    I promise that this will be my last post as I don’t support Arsenal and too many on this site seem too protective (or paranoid?) when discussing anything to do with the club.

    Very quick story……about 10 years ago Mojo music magazine had a top 500 albums of all time list.
    At no. 2 in the list was ‘Astral Weeks’ by Van Morrison.
    Around the same time I picked up a fanzine on Van Morrison and they too had a poll in it.
    ‘Astral Weeks’ was voted the 10th best Van Morrison album!
    Mojo had put just one other LP above it, the fanzine had put nine other Van Morrison LP’s above it!
    My point is that the Van Morrison fans were so close to the subject that they weren’t objective; they couldn’t see the woods for the trees.

    I made my earlier points because unlike the media (who are NOT biased against Arsenal, chill out!) I am not wildly convinced about the Arsenal CC team.

    However, I am convinced about West Ham’s academy.
    In the last decade or so, Tony Carr has brought through………
    Rio Ferdinand
    Carrick
    Johnson
    Lampard
    Joe Cole
    Defoe

    If Arsenal had brought those players on and, as they’re not a ‘selling’ club, I suspect that the scramble for the hallowed 4th place would have been made much easier in recent years, they’d have saved a huge amount of money on travel around the world and they might have won a trophy as well.
    Oh, and all those players are English and qualify to play for England which, when plying your trade in North London, isn’t to be dismissed lightly.

    See you all at Barnet for the F.A. Cup 3rd Round.
    Be sure to bring your Youth Team!

    Bye