I get so hooked on all the youngsters coming through the ranks all the time, Wilshere, Vela, Ramsey, Merida and the rest, that it becomes easy to forget that the Lord Wenger has a fair old ability to work with old timers too.
It was widely said that when he arrived at Highbury he extended the careers at the top flight of several players by changing everything from their diets to their game plan. Dennis Bergkamp we remember was still playing for us well into his 50s. Or something like that.
I thought on this, not just because of AA, our new battery from Leningrad, but also because according to the always to be believed newspapers that Terry ‘Enry fellow is likely to be sold by BarBarBarca in the summer. I just wondered…
The fact is that the oft repeated journalistic line about Wenger taking young players so that he can mould them is something he did do previously with older men with great success. In this regard buying AA is not such a surprise – it is not totally against his strategy of everything he believes in. It is just that he hasn’t done if for some time.
Indeed it is interesting how things change in football. I guess most of us who know our Arsenal culture and history (which to me is a central part of following the club) know that there was this fellow called Charlie Buchan who we bought from Sunderland, and became our goalscoring hero. What is often forgotten is that we bought him aged 34.
I’m not suggesting that the exploits of Buchan as an older player can be recreated by anyone other than the occasional genius like Bergkamp, but we really should not instantly think that there is something odd or unusual about Arsenal singing a 27 year old.
The sad reality of modern football is that injury levels seem to be higher than ever – probably because of the speed of the game. So we need more and more cover – and AA is now added to Theo, Rosicky, Cesc, Narsi, Denilson, Song, Diaby, Eboue.
When put like that it is hard to understand the endless ranting of commentators who said that Arsenal fell apart because we failed to replace Flamini and Hleb. They were both replaced: Flamini by Denilson and Helb by Nasri and AA.
And incidentally, just to finish, the latest on the Milan number 84 (M Flamini) (yes really he is number 84). The most regular player at the club has made 22 starts. M Flamini has made 9, and been a sub in 6 (including at least two where he came on in the last minute). He is also no longer in the French squad.
He has the compensation of a higher salary – but since playing regular football was for him a major priority, it must be a bit of a pain.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009
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