Calls For Experience So Will Wenger Buy Youth?
The usual media stirrings are beginning in full flow with everyone up for grabs or on their way out. Except, it seems, Cesc Fàbregas who is apparently now earning a high salary having been underpaid (Yea Gods) by Premier League standards. The squad is apparently to be augmented by Pepe Reina, Jack Rodwell and a whole host of others. Arsène is being given advice from everyone about who to sign, including former players.
Martin Keown believes that the squad needs to supplemented with experience:
Arsenal need to buy in a sprinkling of proven quality players and introduce them alongside the current players, and they will drag them over the line. It’s very important that you have these people in the squad. They are people who have been there and done it. They are people who you can look up to and rely on to show that quality. When you have a squad full of youngsters you get inconsistency and you are never quite sure how they’ll perform.
Well from that little observation, inconsistently is the answer. But Keown was not on a downer:
If you look at the age of the team this year then I think they have over-achieved. They are all very young but we can’t keep saying that forever.
Perhaps we might if Arsene has found the Elixir of Youth or plans on signing Peter Pan. The experience line was central to Sol Campbell‘s view:
The main thing is you have got to get the right balance. There is a fantastic amount of talent here and we just have to believe we can win a major trophy – and you also need a bit of the rub of the green now and again…I am sure that, once everything comes together, there will be no stopping Arsenal winning trophies season after season. You have to truly believe in your skill and trust that you can do something. Wherever we finish, we will have to build on it and keep on going
It is a misnomer to consistently point to the youth as the reason for this season’s failure to win the title. A number of the younger players have over 100 appearances which begs the question as to when is a player considered experienced? Some of this side were in the 2007/08 team which came close to being champions. Do we say that five seasons is experienced? Three? Eight? Any of those limits applies to players who have yet to reach 25 years of age.
The additional point is whom to sign? Does Wenger only go for players who have won trophies or simply those who have been around the block? Arguably, the latter may be more experience in terms of matches played but have no experience of winning anything so where is the benefit is the latter phase of a season. They know no more than Denilson about silverware in that respect.
It is a tough balance for Wenger to strike. Holding back youngsters is the pain he has been unable to suffer through financial constraints yet now the opposite seems to hold true. Both the manager and the chairman have opined that there is cash so the only rationale for not spending is that he cannot find a player who improves the squad within his budget, something which seems highly unlikely.
Goalkeeper, central defence, central midfield and striker are the areas Wenger is told to improve. Certainly the former two need bodies added, the first as an improvement on current players, the latter because Vermaelen might be the only centre back at the club come June with contracts expiring.
Bringing in experienced players does not have to ‘kill’ the chances of youth; it brings about opportunity for them to develop on loan, away from the spotlight that is shone more brightly on Arsenal than a lot of other clubs. Naturally gifted players will make the first team, only needing to be patient for their chance to play, an opportunity which will come quickly if this season’s injury problems are anything to go by.
With all of this to consider, why would Wenger look to improve the squad with younger players as some suggest? Rodwell and Hart are two names which spring immediately to mind but neither is experienced, barely three seasons worth of starts between them. Looking around the Premier League, there is a paucity of English players who fulfil the technical and experience requirements put forward. Arsène will no doubt be scouring the globe to the dismay of the media; that’s their problem and they can get over it.
If a player is good enough, he is old enough as the saying goes. It is a truism Arsène has been intent on proving but come this summer, there seems little point in buying youth as the experience will be missing; the frailties exposed this season will still be there, perhaps to a lesser degree but evident nonetheless. Perhaps the time has come to allow the youngsters to grow behind the scenes, coming into the first team a year later than has been normal, better prepared for the domestic requirements.
That is no admission that ‘Project Youth‘ has failed; far from it. The club has remained in the top four, challenged for the title twice in the past four seasons, confounded critics in the process and gained others along the way. Perhaps though, it needs a breather whilst Arsène works out a way for them to gain the necessary experience, allowing the club to become largely self-sustaining, a prelude to The Good Life.
Posted on April 27, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Rumours. Bookmark the permalink. 292 Comments.