Arsenal loyalty through locality and history

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.

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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20 Replies to “Arsenal loyalty through locality and history”

  1. I think it is a bit rich to claim that Fabregas and RVP were Arsenal produced players and that Arsenal spent so much time nuturing them after all Fabregas made his first team debut some 40 odd days after he was signed from Barcelona and RVP made his debut in the next first team fixture following his multi million £ signing from Feyenoord. Just as it is incorrect to imply Diaby and Song were products of Arsenals youth system as both were the subject of £million + transfers to Arsenal. Having said that Arsenal have done nothing wrong other than to sign players on very good contracts and for quite reasonable transfer fees .Players that other clubs have taken time in devloping.
    Turning next to this comment
    ” the difference between our clubs (Man U and Arsenal) is that we have a history of producing these irreplaceable players on a frequency that beggars belief.
    I find it strange as without question the club that is up there in producing players that are irreplaceable is Man Utd

  2. You can spin it as much as you like but the fact still remains… The quality at Arsenal has declined greatly in the past 2 years. But it’s not all of Wengers making. He was building a team and I have no doubt that if Cesc, Nasri, Clichy, Song and RVP were in the Arsenal squad today then we would be right up there challenging for the title. It’s just a shame these players could not repay the faith and patience that Wenger showed them. I don’t really blame Cesc for returning to his hometown club, or RVP for cashing in on his last potential big contract and chance of silverware.
    This season has been a nadir for Wenger. I’m pretty sure that up until this year he has achieved the goals set by the board – namely to keep us in the Champions League while we pay for the stadium. It’s only this season that it’s not going to plan. But the season is long and there is a chance that maybe, just maybe, we can go on a good run and scrape into that all important 4th place. 7 points off 4th with a game in hand, it’s not impossible and while Wenger’s in charge fans should get behind the team and support them.

  3. I constantly admire your optimism but how you can defend a system where we have a first choice striker that needs an average of 8 chances to score 1 goal but yet there is no replacement on the bench to assist him.Don’t mention Walcott,Podolski or the useless Gervinho as an option because they are not good enough to trouble decent Premiership defences on a consistent basis thru the central striking position.The fact that Gervinho gets anywhere near our team shows just how far we have sunk.Manchester City and Manchester United must be wondering what a floored genius like Arsene is doing,trying to challenge for the Title with individuals that can’t perform the basics required to play football.Gervinho cannot dribble/shoot/cross anf has no awareness of defending correctly.You can talk about evolving/like for like/nurturing etc but I know Chamakh,Denilson,Squillaci etc would not have got contracts at our competitors.

  4. It’s remarkable how the passing of time blurs the memory.
    Fabregas, on leaving, was said to be the heartbeat of our Club.
    My recollection was that he, Henry and Vieira each had poor final seasons at Arsenal and their time was up.
    Loyalty and the professional footballer have become poles apart in the modern game, largely due, IMO, to spiralling wages coupled with the black side of Bosman.
    The day is bound to come when sanity will return to the paid game, contracts will mean something and loyalty will reap its own reward.

  5. Funny article. What’s the point? The taste of the pudding is in the eating. No matter how u explain the arsenal policy, its proven itself to be useless, or useful in becoming less competitive. So wen fans say whatever they say, it obviously means throw away this failing system and apply that used by winning teams. Is that hard to comprehend?

  6. Mike T,
    In his first season Fabregas only played in milk cup competitions not in the PL. So it took him one year not 40 days to really get a starting place. He played one season in the reserves. He learned the basics at Barcelona but it was Arsenal that gave him his chance at the top level.

    I think the reason we feel that Arsenal “nurtured” Van Persie is that when he came he was just a young troublemaker aged 20-21. His club was sick of him because of his behaviour. We nurtured him because Wenger turned him in to the world class striker he is today.

    At first many idiots screamed all kinds of abuse when Wenger said that he didn’t need to buy a centre forward as he had Van Persie. The AAA called Wenger an idiot and said that Van Persie would be injured within weeks when Wenger would play him up front. Wenger was the only one who said it would work. And did it work?

    We also nurtured him because of his injuries mostly a result from playing for the Dutch team. Our club stood by him during all those injury hit years and extended his contract and kept believing in him.

    It that is not nurturing a player then give me a better word 😉 I can’t find another.

  7. Nice article Adam.
    I hope some read it and who knows will be able to understand your point….

  8. Walter

    I will let you get away with the use of the word ” nuturing” although had it been “grooming ” well maybe not.

    As I have said in the past Wenger has been a master in brining in young talent and developing them into top quality players but the reality is the vast vast majority of those top class players werent Arsenal youth products they were brought in for affordable( bargain) transfer fees but the model becomes flawed at times because some of inferior quality players were put on quite big contracts.
    Having said that Wilshire looks a player and Gibbs may well develop into one but it will be interesting to see if it is was wise to push the boat out so far in getting Theo to sign a new contract or indeed offer some of the others bigger long term deals. I thnk it is quite brave and in reality quite a gamble.

  9. Well Mike T
    with the stadium we knew we were in for a hard time.

    We cannot compete with the russian and the sheikh. Neither would Chelsea and Manchester City by the way.

  10. Can see your point here a change of approach is clearly needed. Some of these players will go on to great things and hopefully with us. This season we do need additions it seems but these guys and maybe the likes of eisfeld are the future. Wenger said last summer we were starting a new cycle.

  11. Adam,
    Whatever the word-play, a 4th place finish is essential for our well-being, whether or not like-for-like (as you spin it) is not to your taste. For fans to ignore the financial damages (and fan pressures) that not reaching that spot will set in motion, and not least of which is how it will turn top-tier talent away from us simply has to be faced. Self-inflating Tribalism that ignores this is ruinous self-deception. A risk or two on behalf of quality has to be taken in this transfer window. My heart and money says that they will do so and people will then say how brave and courageous and sagacious AW/we are for taking the chance. We shall see within 10 days.

  12. Adam,
    British stock? Is this a guarantee that our British cows will find the grass greener here and forever enticing? Are there not other British sides to jump ship for? And, as it’s a tidy little cosmopolitan world now I’ll trot out an old ditty that the Yanks used to croon. It has its ounce of truth at odds with your localist fantasia; and it goes like this: “How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, now that they’ve seen Pareeeeee (Paris)?” Especially if AW gets homesick… Let’s not be naive about this last bastion of localism once the lads have felt the lures of distant shores (for however short term or long).

  13. I dont understand when people say ‘ARSENAL policy/philosophy/project has failed’. Has it really? How many of us know, what ARSENAL policy really is?

    ARSENAL policy (what ever it is) is just starting to take shape. After the move to the Ems, the main goal was to survive and be competitive. And we have done it. Now therz a shift in the approach to start the next phase of the move. Unfortunately, this season things are not going as per plan. BUT we cannot just look at the immediate future and go crazy. ARSENALs future is much bright, than most of us think it will be. A little patience would be helpful.

  14. I agree with @Arsenal 13, but in the middle of a transfer window, and a couple of games highlighting the need for quality additions, it is no surprise that many will disagree.
    I think RVP’s departure has brought about a change in Arsene’s thinking. Take the similarity between RVP, as stated in Walter B’s reply, and Yann M’vila? Troubled 21 year old, wanted to be offloaded by his club … Is it a case of ‘fingers burnt’ that stops AW bringing in this player(if a fee could ever be agreed) who many see as an ideal player to stiffen up our defence? Think about it. We bring him in, rehabilitate him, both on and off the field, restore to the French national side where he becomes such a fixture in both teams …. only for the end of say a 4 year contract he gets distracted by mega rich clubs whispering in his ears, and he then says ‘I want a new challenge(sic)’.
    I think more than any other player, RVP has hurt Arsene badly. He will now contemplate buying a 30 year old for big money, maybe because he knows just how that will end? I cannot imagine that would have happened two years ago?
    You cannot buy loyalty, nor it seems, can you rely on it.

  15. Adam, I enjoyed your article. You have gone into a lot of detail to illustrate your point and I find it convincing.

    This season we have bought three top class ‘ready-to-play’ players – Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud. Last season it was Mertesacker and Arteta. All have performed well considering that in four out of five cases they came from other countries and had no experience of the English premier league. But it is probably no coincidence that Arteta, who might be considered the most consistently successful, has played for years in the premiership.

    Arsenal, it seems to me, is limited in recruiting ‘ready-to-play’ premiership players by two main factors 1) cost and 2) whether the player has the skills and style of play to perform well in the Arsenal team.

    The future will hopefully be our young players who have been trained in the Arsenal style of play.

  16. @Mike T – what team do you support mate? Apparently, Wenger does not deserve any credit for developing any talent right? U must be a supporter of one of the sugar daddy clubs and those all those years when your club was fighting to make ends meet…you would have licked your lips and prayed (if you do) to bless your club even with a counterfeit Wengeresque figure to save your club! Go to papa Mike…ask who he is buying next…

  17. Adam….well thought out piece but there are some elements missing:

    a)Wenger’s youth policy has been tempered but not abandoned. He has altered it to include older,more experienced players whose 2-3 year careers at AFC will hopefully be long enough to give the kids time to ripen. Wilshere, Walcott, Chamberlain, Jenkinson, Coquelin, to name a few, are ready to be harvested for the first team….but it took 3-4 years for them to get there.
    b)Every signing is a major GAMBLE today. Loyalty should be spelt with $$$$ signs rather than letters of the alphabet. Kids whose careers are on fire are quickly over-hyped by the opportunistic media, aided and abetted by their agents, so that, after a successful season, they suddenly are on every big team’s ¨radar¨. Once that happens, kiss them goodbye.
    c)The injury Gods have been particularly unkind to AFC since 2005. There were three seasons where half of our first team starters were out on long-term injuries. No other team had such a spell of misfortune, yet Wenger was still able to keep us in the CL and top 4. He is well aware of the risk he takes keeping injured players on his books and refusing to react impulsively to bring in new faces to replace them.

    Will being a local lad and playing at a Club with such history ensure that we keep our best players? Not in the slightest chance. Current Footballers are mercenary, narcissistic and brainwashed by their agents to believe they are legends….lets face it, the average professional Footballer today is only marginally educated, of mediocre intelligence and with very limited understanding of life on the other side of the tracks, so he can’t be expected to rationally resist the sheen of gold when it takes his eye.

  18. Wow, There are some very negative views out there towards footballers, maybe rightly so?

    But I think this is where Arsenal are trying to address some issues.

    Domhauil, the education issue you state, is for me a social issue as they are educated in the same manner as the rest of us until the age of 16, then at 16/17 they sign their first pro contract. I remember someone stating that in the future football could be played primarily by those who are 2nd and 3rd generation footballers who have been privately educated on the back of their fathers and grandfathers football earnings.

    Bob, it was actually you who inspired me to write this piece around Christmas, owing to yourself wanting replacements for those who have departed. I hope in some way I have got you to look at this from a different angle. For me, a club shows its failings when entering the transfer market. This shows that the scouting network or youth project has not delivered players “ready to play”. A company who cannot train its own staff has no real future. Same for a sporting club. The rules around bringing in youngsters to a club are there for all to see and do limit us in some manner. No under 16 can join us from afar, without both parents moving unrelated to football. So we have to rely on localised talent if we want players trained at the club 5-10 years before making the step in to professionalism.

    Nicky, you in a way prove my point, that people compare players from when they leave the club instead of when they arrive. If you are to compare players at least wait until they are done with Arsenal then lets compare their careers.

    UK, Oh were to start, If you have a couple of spare £billion knocking about then we may be able to throw away our current system and employ one similar to Man city or Chelsea. Until then I afraid we have to make do.

    Alan, Yes it must have been hard for Wenger to see a group he thought could do well together dismantled. Something people need to remember.

    Mike T, you do have some valid points, but the only players to leave Man U and go on to good things recently are Beckham and Ronaldo, what we are seeing at Arsenal recently is our best talent picked off before we are ready to allow their departure.

    This is silly but officially players are only recognised to be trained between the ages of 15-21 and have to be at said club for 3 years. So Southampton will not be recognised as Theo’s or Ox’s training club, Arsenal will, Wrong yes. Nowhere in this article did I state that Diaby was a product of our youth system. So I find it rude for you to suggest otherwise. Song arrived as an 18 year old so when he reached 21 was considered home grown and trained at both Arsenal for 3 years and Bastia for 3 years.

    Ultimately what i think it comes down to is your opinion differs from official lines, which is understandable, You probably see Theo & Ox as Southampton trained but officially they are not as they did not spend the 3 years required at the appropriate age range.

  19. @Gerry Lennon, My own personal opinion on the RVP saga, is that he was willing to go down the “webster” route to get his move. Which Manchester United was party to, and this has put even more pressure and fore-thought into future contract negotiations with current and future Arsenal players.

  20. Just to clear something up. According to FIFA’s statistical partners, Fabregas was a product of Arsenal not Barcelona as he was trained between the ages of 15-21 for 3 consecutive years at Arsenal. Weird huh.

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