Looking forward to Wellington Silva
By Jonathan Neale
It never pays to get too excited about tomorrows prospects too quickly. History tells us that for every Paul Scholes there is a Steve Sidwell and for every Cesc Fabregas an Arturo Lupoli. Part of Wenger’s genius has been his attempt to make the process of selecting youth’s from far and wide both an art-form and a science. In the process we have a new term, ‘global scouting’ and a new model, one which has been widely emulated but never bettered.
The science behind it – might seem a little ‘Top Trumps’ but it is an essential tool. It applies a set of measurements across performances and personalities. How fast and strong are they? How much hunger do they have? What’s their recovery rate like? How many goals do they score? How many tackles do they win? What’s the pass success rate? And so on, until a complete picture of data exists – a spreadsheet of statistics that *almost* sums up a players attributes.
It has been reported in the past, that Wenger is obsessed with statistics. It is certainly easy to imagine the appeal for this structured, considered man with his degree in economics and borderline compulsive attention to detail. It is also easy to imagine that the application of such formula, to try to breakdown the overall merits of a footballer, is what provides Wenger with a higher success rate than the rest in the transfer market.
There have been notable (and eagerly pounced upon) failures, but regardless his successes have left other managers trailing in his wake as the Ozymandias of the transfer market.
The confidence in Arsene’s consistent ability, was undoubtedly what allowed the club to dare to accomplish the dream of the move to such a new stadium in the first place. I don’t think it is unfair to suggest that no other manager could have done this; to carry us across the chasm safely – shepherding us collectively towards the land of untold riches, which lie on the other side. It would not have been worth the club to dare to risk it with a ‘typical’ successful manager, one who achieves success as much through buying the best as he does his ability to gel players into a winning side. Icarus and Leeds spring to mind.
I suspect it is however something else other than just the application of Wenger’s scientific model. There is something of an artisan and aesthete to the man. The nose of the wine-enthusiast perhaps – that which allows Wenger to more frequently ‘sniff out’ the signs that lie beyond mere numbers and the rigour with which the data was gathered.
Yes it’s supposition on my part, and you could just argue this is a poncy way of saying “he is rather good at it” but, fuck me – he really is. He has a special eye for talent the kind which has allowed him to pull the Viera’s and Henry’s from warming benches in Italy, and for nominal sums too. The kind of eye which has essentially built the modern Arsenal and which we should never tire of celebrating or appreciating. It’s given us that much, and with so much more yet to come.
I remember watching some of the Manchester United Premier Cup (the under 15s tournament) a few years back and being blown away by the kid – he came away with both the ‘Player of the Tournament’ and ‘MVP’ award. You can see some of his display in these matches in the footage.
Though he is clearly devastatingly talented, what I am loving from the player most of all is the determination and desire that is so burningly evident. He wants the ball VERY badly and, at this level, when he does have it, he is simply devastating.
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