One of the crazier sidelines of the failure of England to do very much in a world cup final has been the parade of has-beens (as opposed of course to people like me who have never been in the first place) saying that England needs to “clear the decks” and “wipe the slate clean” and throw around a large number of other meaningless phrases.
Then, we are told, we need to bring in lots of young England players.
But, say the alternative has-beens, who are hired to argue with the has-beens, these kids never get games with their Premier League clubs. So how will they be good enough? Our current squad can do better. Rooney is really good really. Especially when he has that fellow who plays with him at Manchester Untidy. What’s his name again? Oh yes. OG. That’s the fella. Get OG to play along with Rooney. After all OG scored about 13 goals for Manchester U last season.
And so on.
But is it true that the kids never get a chance to play? Actually, err, no.
Arsenal has four teams at present.
- Arsenal first team squad (now limited to 25 plus kiddie-winks)
- Arsenal on-loan (generally clocking in at 15 to 20 players)
- Arsenal reserve team squad who also play in the Diddy Cup
- Arsenal youth team squad (league winners for the last two years)
Now, as we all know, Tottenham Hotspur withdrew from the reserve league two seasons ago, and this year Fulham have gone as well. Stoke City and Birmingham City have gone also (largely on the grounds that people don’t like playing their Shawcross style thugs). When England start looking for kiddies they might ask what the hell is wrong with the reserve league system.
But the Reserve League is reorganising itself.
I haven’t seen anything definitive as yet (definitive from English football – what a laugh), but Young Guns says it will be like this, and that is good enough for me…
We will have three leagues…
Group A: Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic.
Group B: Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Everton, Liverpool, Sunderland.
Group C: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Each side will play the other teams in their group twice, home and away, and every other team once, meaning a total of 19 games. The winners of Group A would then face the winners of Group B for the right to meet the Group C winners for the national title (Arsenal).
The big problem for the likes of clubs like the Tiny Totts, Stoke and others of that ilk is that Arsenal use the reserve league to play up and coming 17 year olds as a transition point between the youth league and loaning out. Francis Coquelin is a case in point, having just entered phase three of his journey, with his loan year in France all set to start – having last year played in the reserves.
But other clubs don’t have the production line like we do, and use the reserve league to play big boys. Anyone who watched the Tinies against Arsenal in the reserve league the season before last will know how the Tinies played 8 internationals in the game, against Arsenal’s 16 and 17 year olds. The Tiny players looked ill at ease and were ungracious, laughing at the occasion. Arsenal kids gave it everything.
So the production line will be getting a boost with more games to watch at Barnet.
If you can get there, and have not seen a reserve match, try it. Entry is free, and you see the youngsters who are just a loan spell away from the first team squad.
Everything Arsenal is at this amazing web site, with links to here, there, and somewhere else.
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption