By Tony Attwood
Newspapermen often like to confuse ideas. For example if a football manager speaks out of turn (at least “speaks out of turn” in the mind of a journalist) then the manager has engaged on a “rant”. Call a journalist an ostrich, and immediately it becomes a rant. But if a journalist says a club has been humiliated that is an “article”.
But of course the confusion doesn’t stop there. To give another example, the issue of bringing young players through is one that is exercising journalists, but is constantly confused with the issue of bringing through England players.
England players struggle for the simple reason that we don’t have enough coaches at the highest level – something we’ve noted a number of times over the years. But the issue of bringing through young players in general is quite different.
As an example of how confusing this can be consider the article Oven-ready players deny room for grow-your-own talent to flourish by Richard Williams in the Guardian.
I read it expecting to see what the writer had to say about the way Arsenal have brought through young players of late. But in fact the only mention of Arsenal in the article comes as the writer discusses the introduction of young players into matches played by top four clubs. He says
This season the four clubs have between them given two players league debuts – but the pair in question, Loftus-Cheek and Arsenal’s 17-year-old midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles, received no more than one minute’s playing time apiece on the single occasion each was summoned from the bench.
But it proved to be very easy to build up a list of Arsenal players who have had some decent experience on the pitch – and without including Jon Toral who had an article to himself last time, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
And I am certain I have missed out quite a few other players from this list (perhaps you could fill in the gaps).
|Yaya Sanogo||22||20||1||Crystal Palace|
|Damián Martínez||22||8||0||Rotherham United|
|Ryo Miyaichi||22||7||0||F.C. Twente|
|Chuba Akpom||19||9||0||Nottingham Forest|
That is a fair old list, and it represents a range of players who are registered to Arsenal who are getting some sort of experience in clubs as part of their development.
It doesn’t take account of their nationality however, nor which team they are playing for – but in regards to this issue, such things hardly seem to matter. Arsenal, either through Arsenal or through other clubs, gives experience and games to young players.
And if we want to look at older players who have been developed and given the chance over time we would add Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Walcott, Jenkinson. What’s more if we are spreading the net a little wider, Benik Afobe would be in the list, as he was developed by Arsenal before going on loan and then ending up at Wolverhampton.
In short, the whole notion of blaming the clubs for not developing players properly is nonsense. It is indeed going on wholesale – at least at Arsenal.
In fact, looking at the list I begin to wonder just how many players we are expected to develop at any one time.
- 2 May 1990: Brian Marwood’s last game. Following the arrival of Anders Limpar it was made clear Brian would no longer be first choice, and he transferred to Sheffield Utd for £350,000 in the following September.
- 2 May 1992: Last game for David Rocastle. He was then sold on to Leeds Utd who at the time were Champions, for £2m; their most expensive signing. Anders Limpar later revealed that Rocastle was distressed about the move and the way that Graham handled it.