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
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