By Adam Brogden
Arsenal loyalty through locality and history
We seem to be taking a hammering from the media and more disappointingly from ex-players, also fans wanting “like for like” replacements bought in or rather our best players not allowed to leave in the first place.
Most of the above has been covered on Untold but the one thing I want to focus on is this “like for like” replacement. Can we ever get a “like for like” replacement?
My personal opinion is no, not in footballing terms, we can have a replacement of a kind, a similar player but we are all individual on and off the football pitch.
I think what people actually mean is a “ready to play” replacement/player.
Now in terms of a “like for like” and “ready to play” we could use Cesc, Song, RVP, Clichy, Cole and many other as examples of players we thought had loyalty to us and would stay for the duration of their careers but when they left, were they replaced “like for like” or were they replaced with “ready to play” replacements or were they actually replaced before they left?.
Cesc, apparently filled Vieira’s boots (in the first team) when he left but was he “ready to play” YES. Was he “like for like” NO. He was different so we changed the structure of our side.
So when Fabregas replaced Vieira in the first team who replaced Cesc in the reserves and youth set up? Does anyone even care?
Because this is where the view of AFC must be considered. Let us call it the “conveyor belt system” or “squad system” this needs no real explanation as it should, for the reasonable mind be self-explanatory.
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The year Vieira left is the year Song and Diaby both arrived so we could actually state that Song or Diaby replaced Vieira. So take your pick at who replaced the movement of Cesc and Vieira. Both players moved. One within the squads of Arsenal. The other out of the club, so two players brought in to fill the movements of others. Song and Diaby both moved into the reserves, Cesc in to the first team and Vieira out of the club.
So when Cesc left, who if anyone replaced him?
Well if you followed the above it was actually Song or Diaby coming in to the reserve set up who replaced Fabregas back in 2005, which is a funny thing because Cesc didn’t leave the club until 2011. Was Song/Diaby a “like for like” player? NO, but they were in AFCs “conveyor system”. Unknown players with great potential in Wenger’s mind. But weren’t they a replacement for Vieira? Depends on how you look at it.
So I ask you what does “like for like” mean, is it “ready to play” or is it a player of similar quality, mentality, work rate, technique, strength and mobility because as stated above, all players are different. Some are similar granted but you cannot say player x is the same as player y.
When a fan wants a “like for like” signing he/she wants the quality immediately replaced. We sold Cesc for £29 million or so I’m told. So who replaced him and for how much?
Well as stated above, in Arsenal’s squad system it was Diaby or Song who replaced Cesc in our reserves back in 2005. So was the quality replaced? Again depends how you look at it. On departure Cesc was the heartbeat of our side. So no, the quality was not replaced, but back in 2005 when Song or Diaby were brought in he was not the heartbeat of Arsenal he was a player with great potential as were Diaby and Song. So in Arsenal’s conveyor squad system yes he was replaced with a similar potential back in 2005.
And this is where I would like people to compare a player. From the time they arrive not on departure.
The end product for Arsenal-produced players is usually players of a very high standard. It is somewhat unfair for people to ask for an immediate solution when Arsenal themselves have invested so much time in nurturing a player of quality such as Cesc or RVP.
We will always feel their departure, as would any other team. Take RVP out of the Manchester United side and you will considerably weaken it; the difference between our clubs is that we have a history of producing these irreplaceable players on a frequency that beggars belief.
The quality and time invested in nurturing Arsenal’s players of the future has come at a price and that is that we now have all the money clubs sniffing around our players all the time. Look at the talent we have lost. I know you don’t want reminding so I will not list them, but I’m sure you understand that something had to be done to combat this unforeseen side effect of Arsenals success at producing players of quality.
My initial feeling is that we are now a club in transition; but please note not a team in transition. What Arsenal are seemingly trying to do is keep hold of their young British born players, maybe keep them at the club for life so we can build a club with the loyalty of locality at its heart which will hopefully instil a sense of belonging to our current squad and future squads something which we have lost for different reasons.
If Arsenal are following the Barcelona model you will find us targeting “ready to play” players not as replacements but to complement those that have been nurtured at Arsenal the preceding 8-10 years and are getting closer to or are in the first team.
Arsenal have been the victims of their own successes; they indulged in their scouting network to find and acquire the best in young talent, and nurture them to a high standard. Now they have been held to ransom by the players and their representation. So a new direction was needed and they have chosen the direction of loyalty through locality and history.
The players I look too when thinking of this new Arsenal are: Gibbs, Wilshere and those that are yet to make it; Wynter, Bihmoutine, Akpom and many more players who have spent their youth at Arsenal as well as those young British players brought in who could develop the same appreciation for Arsenal; Oxlade-chamberlain, Ramsey, Jenkinson.
So I for one do not want any more “like for like” signings, not in the mould of Cesc, Song, RVP, Clichy or Nasri. Give me a Wilshere, Gibbs, Parlour or Adams then buy me a Bergkamp to complement the diehard Arsenal stock.
Arsenal wants loyalty returned to the club through the loyalty of locality and history.
Written by Adam Brogden.
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