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You can’t believe a single word I say (but you probably knew that). The reserves are no more.



Egg on face, custard all over face, total red face… how do I express my utter embarrassment?

After weeks if not months laughing at the Tiny Totts and others not managing to put together a reserve team, Young Guns (exquisite, up to date and far more accurate than Untold on such matters) has revealed that Arsenal has pulled out of the FA Premier Reserve League.

And this just a few days after the news came out that Arsenal would be playing in the top division of the reserve league next season.

It is worrying, because we join the likes of the mighty Fulham, Stoke “he’s not that sort of player” City, Birmingham “he’s not that sort of player” City and the Tiny Totts in not playing in the league of the Reservoir Dogs.

However I suspect that the reasoning is going to be quite different.

Young Guns suggests that the whole of youth development at Arsenal is changing.  Whereas only days ago I proudly announced four Arsenal teams (Arsenal FC, Arsenal on Loan, Arsenal Reserves, the All-Conquering Youth Team) the Reserve team players are now going to split between the first team squad (under 21s don’t count in the “25” rule – at least I got that right), and more on loan.

I hesitate to make any more semi-skimmed and half-crazed guesses, but well, since I have a whisky mac beside my typing fingers (the journalist’s drink of choice you know) it might be that this notion of having a friendly club outside of England that will allow our Reserves to be on loan to them and help them through the season is coming to pass.

Certainly when we have discussed this before I have the strongest feeling that there is a groundswell of opinion that we ought to be putting the kiddies out on loan at our own favourite feeder club rather than making them play in the Reserves.  And if Arsenal do find a favourite club to take lots of players then I can claim that I was right all along.

We’ve discussed it often – a club in the third division of the McScots League perhaps, or a friendly club (not owned by Arsenal because that’s against the law) that will take lots of Arsenal kiddies.  A club in Spain is needed since we bring in a growing number of central and south Americans who need two years in Spain to get their EU passport.

Maybe we’ll have four loan clubs, as we have so many kiddies.

Young Guns says the new route gives the players a “quicker route from Under 18′s football into the first-team. The best players will be moved up to work with Arsène Wenger, while those just needing a little extra will leave on loan.”

So there it is – we’ll see more details shortly.  But since you now know what a load of erratic dross I write here, here’s the latest prediction.

1.  The reserves will play friendlies against other reserve teams, either at Barnet, or behind closed doors.

2. The Barnet deal will eventually end – probably in one more year.

3.  The players will go out on loan which will allow the Lord Wenger to see much more quickly who is good and who is not.

4.  The whole process is arising because we have so many youngsters, that we are never going to fit them all into a league schedule anyway.

5.  Some teams continue to play their out of favour first team players who are just trying to avoid injury, and that sort of match does not help anyone see how good or bad a young player is.

6. When the young kiddie is out on loan the club taking him pays his wages.

7.  The wages of sin is death. Actually that doesn’t have anything to do with this, and is actually a quote from Romans (that’s the Bible you know).

8.  We can really see how a kiddie is doing with the loan spell.  I mean, take Lansbury last season – he was bloody amazing for Watford.

9.  The reserves at Barnet get to believe that all league pitches are on a slope.

10.  Arsenal actually were pushing for a much bigger, much more realistic reserve league, and when their plans were rejected they pulled out, to form their own reserve structure.

I am not sure how long Arsenal reserves have been going for.  I recall in the 1950s when I started going our reserve team played in the Football Combination, and before that the London Combination.   So this is a probably a momentous occasion, and if it is, that is good, because I won’t have to mention my mistaken prediction again.

The first season without a reserve team is xxx years.  Fill in the details for me someone will you?

Anyway, here we are…

  • Arsenal First Team Now Extended with more kiddies
  • Arsenal On Loan particularly with a team somewhere that wants lots of loanees.  Probably two teams.
  • Arsenal Youth

Once upon a time the world used to make sense.

Untold Arsenal: you know it gets it sort of well maybe half right sometimes

Making the Arsenal – the first edition is fully sold out and we are now flogging the second edition, while working on another book.  Isn’t that fun.

Job vacancy: editor of Untold Arsenal.  Needs a firm grip on reality and a knowledge of football facts.  Desire endlessly to promote his own book is not a positive attribute.

16 comments to You can’t believe a single word I say (but you probably knew that). The reserves are no more.

  • arsenalfan

    i just found this blog through newsnow, good read. bookmarked.

  • elnino

    lol.d wages of sin.now dats some funny shit.

  • 0.9 Calibre

    The “tie up” with Lorient is the beginning of the new reserves structure perhaps?

    Although the reserves league gave our youngsters a purpose/target each year, sending them to different clubs in different leagues poses them with new challenges. However, should Arsene send away the kids to different countries, wont it affect our home-grown status?

  • Digger

    I wonder what the readers and contributors of Le Grove will make of this (catastrophists I think you refer to their ilk as?)no doubt It’s a conspiracy theory aimed at surreptitiously diverting more funds into the “new” club level.
    I left a reply @ 21.00 on their site last night regarding the constant diatribe they spout about Wenger and the club, now I’ll admit the vernacular was a little colourfull, but no more so than some of the language they use themselves, suffice to say it’s still awaiting moderation (I assume!)

    Still at least here you get a balanced view and a laugh now and then.

  • fred

    I am not a catatrophist but I worry about this because this was the downfall for Liverpool, When Daglish got rid of their reserve side it stopped their conveyor belt and resulted in their ongoing draught.
    There are of course other circumstances involved but i worry that young players will not want to come to clubs without a
    competative league structure for the reserve team players and those coming back from injury too.

  • Gooner Gal

    I hope Arsenal release a bit more information on why they pulled out of the league (Tony – your suggestions do sound logical) and how the friendlies will work.

    I think its important that loanee’s go to clubs that play a similar style to us and have managers that won’t play the player out of position. I also wonder how much the home grown ruling had an impact on this decision.

  • Tim

    I might wait until Arsenal tell us what they are actually going to be doing before predicting anything.

  • walter

    I predict that Arsenal will tell us why they did this someday.

  • Robbie

    If the kiddies could play friendlies on a regular basis, what difference does it make? Does anyone have the slightest idea why Arsenal isn’t happy with the current reserve league set up? Or is it possible that it’s nothing wrong with it but Arsenal have found a better option? But, as always, in Wenger i trust (that is, if he had a say in this, which he probably did)

  • Abhishek Kumar

    I love this move. I always suggested that we have a second team where all our reserve players play togethar and we come out of the reserve league.

    As the reserve league is not competitive and not followed, the players dont get the pressure of playing in a high tension match every week. I think this is the main reason why we have abandoned the reserve league. As for the constant flow of players, I think the players will go to only 2-3 clubs and they will have much more experience of playing togethar in a pressure match.

    I also have a wild speculation. I think that we might be on the verge of buying a club somewhere where we can ship all of our reserve team and they can play togethar as a team and play some continental style football before learning the english style.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    If you’re going to do this you probably need quite a few different ones. I mean: last year Wilshere was in the Premiership (at Bolton), Lansbury in the Championship along with Simpson and JET, Hoyte was at Brighton in League 1 and the Norwegian was on loan outside the UK. Those just off the top of my head.

    You’d think Salamanca is already the place in Spain, presumably anywhere in France is possible with Wenger at the helm, Holland and Belgium Arsenal now enjoy links with and Capello might help with Italy if it was a potential England youngster, assuming he and Arsene aren’t still feuding from matters past……..

  • Richard B

    The loss of business to Barnett could be catastrophic -I assume AFC pay a fee for using the pitch as well as playing the pre season friendly.
    But maybe we’ll see more of these ‘development squad’ games at the Emirates. And maybe they should charge for them (£5?) and seek to raise more revenue. I’m sure that the pitch could take another ten games a year, maybe more,and the Carling Cup games have proved that attendances can be quite high if the marketing is right. I’m sure that even a friendly against Spurs or Manure would pull in 20000 plus.
    They could also serve to give season ticket holders greater value for money if they were included in the cost – with added revenue coming from catering and merchandising sales.

  • Finsbury

    This could mean:

    A couple more signings, players coming in, and a few more (possibly JET? and le Henri de Lansbury?) being bumped up into the 25?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpAdXWohZVI&feature=related

    We’ll find out over the next few weeks…for now,
    c’mon RVP!

  • I think Barnet get their money at least in part from the pre season friendly with its crowd of about 6,000.

    Leyton Orient suffered in the same way, when the Totts pulled out of the reserve league.

    But… if we do get to play a lot of friendlies then presumably we will play them at Barnet. Or will they be at the training ground, like the youth team games are?

  • Jazbo

    I think it’s a good move by Arsenal, as our youngsters need to moved out of the comfort zone in England and learn a new style of playing and culture it will make them players and better men.

  • Leo S

    Having thought about it for a while I think this is a great move for Arsenal. Being part of the Reserve League probably meant that many youngsters who might have been given loan spells and played regular, competitive football were forced to stay with the club in order for us to field a Reserve team.

    From now on, when our youngsters get too old (or too good) to play in the U18 side, there are two options: send them on loan, or bring them into the senior squad. No more rotting in the Reserves, where the football was always infrequent, uncompetitive and of poor quality.

    And if we want to give some of our fringe players or players who recently recovered from injury a game, there is still the option to arrange some “Reserve” friendlies.