One Of Us Speaks – Making It Last

There’s this idea I’ve been entertaining for a while. It’s about young players and how they develop.

I bet you’re asking why you should care what it is.

Well smarty-pants, you will care after I reveal the pinpoint prognostications I made about our youngsters a few years ago:

When I first saw David Bentley play for the first team, everything in the background slipped out of focus. I had eyes only for the guy with the spiky rattail thing on his head. He was so brash, so stylish!

Yeah he had lines shaved into his eyebrows, but what of it?! He could lob goalkeepers from 30 yards and play those snazzy “I murked you by looking the other way, bruv!” passes.

I smoothed the goosebumps on my forearm and dared to wonder whether I was watching the promised one – the long-awaited English champion of the new Arsenal way. I didn’t want to burden him with expectation, but I was pretty sure he’d take over from Bergkamp in a couple of years.

Later there was the winger, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie. Already better than what we had in the first team 2005, he was an Overmars, Pires and Kanu smoothie. But ouch, baby! Someone added some spice to the mix because that boy was audacious, outrageous and downright paceous. Speedy enough to be the tracer that would light the way to our new home at the Emirates.

Arturo Lupoli was the best finisher I’d ever seen at his age, and so intelligent for a player so young. I had it his career mapped out in my head – allowing for injuries and adjustments he’d be getting 25 goals a season come 2008, no problem. I tell you, back in 2005 the future was so bright I got a tan off my crystal ball.

Don’t worry; this is going somewhere. Well, sort of.

I got a bit carried away and assumed that a couple of good performances in the Carling Cup augured a fine career. I mean, if that was how well they could play on their debuts then they could only improve from there, right?

Wrong! They’d all leave the club within a couple of years, and have since gone on to do not very much.

But to get to the point at long last – often when a young player first breaks into the first team and plays well, I believe we get a glimpse, not of what the guy is capable of producing every match thereafter, but what level he might be able to reach in a few years with luck, hard work and careful guidance.

Beyond having a fine education, I reckon one of the main reasons our teams have done so well in the League Cup is because they’ve known that there’s no shame in losing to a side with five or even ten more years of experience. And if a youngster happens be thrown into a Premier League lineup – hey, it’s his first day. Slip-ups can be excused, both by fans and teammates, and he should be talked through every step of the experience.

Add to that, a youngster playing in his first few games for the team often has no profile. People may have heard things about their possible loan moves or form for the reserves, but they won’t have the kind of detailed information about youngsters that they already know by heart about established first team players.

Youngsters are also desperate to impress. And when you combine that keenness with the spring in their step brought on by the knowledge that the match is relatively consequence-free, and that the other team probably doesn’t know much about them, you’ll get the exciting performances that we’re used to seeing from our youngsters.

This is where the manager steps in. When he’s allowed to make the decision, I think Arsène Wenger is the best around at knowing which players to bring forward, which to hold back, and which to cast the hell off.

Yes, David Bentley looked good in the few minutes he got for the first team, but got to thinking that he deserved a place ahead of our first-choice creative players. I imagine that he didn’t realise what kind of dedication would be needed to get to a level and maintain it. There’s an inevitable comedown to inconsistency after the high of the first few matches, and this is where players prove their worth.

You can be as cocksure as Bendtner fresh from a day at the salon, but what’s important is the maturity and intelligence to knuckle under when football becomes a grind. David Bentley had lots of skill and abundant swank, but he turned out to be a bit of a swanker.

Assuming you can read around the cracks on your smashed computer screens, I’d like to apply my half-baked thinking to our current young players. Take Aaron Ramsey. In the first months after he joined us he looked like a classy fighter. And then came the grind, with a dodgy homecoming against Cardiff and some inconsistent performances in early ‘09.

Two years ago he was just getting up to a good level when he stumbled into the wrong cave. And as a consequence his journey will be more difficult that it ever should have been. Here’s what we know though – he has outstanding potential and he has the makeup to overcome extreme adversity. At present he’s getting by, but before long he will take another step up. I’m sure of it.

How about Alex Song? At Charlton, during his first run of first team matches in England he looked like a creative midfielder with muscle. Back at Arsenal it seemed he was limited, but thankfully aware of it and kept his game simple. With patience, hard work and changing circumstances, the traits we saw at Charlton resurfaced this season, and he’s now a player who can affect both attack and defence.

Posted on April 13, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 196 Comments.

  1. First Morning One Of Us…As per norm..good read..

  2. The Real Stew Black

    Very very good points Big Al. I’m sure today will be full of our faveourite youngsters and a ‘where are they now’ excercise. A couple that surprised me by not stepping up are JET and Barazite. But what has happened to young Eastmond, he was getting quite a lot of action and looked very calm and assured. And of course young Randall seemed to be always almost there but never quite made it.
    It’s a shame we can’t have a second team in the lower leagues.

  3. The Real Stew Black

    Ah, to answer my own question i see Craig eastmond is on loan. At Wycombe.

  4. It’s a fascinating subject OOU, one of – if not the most extraordinary dramas at Arsenal. You’ve mentioned half a hat-full, but think of the number over 15 years emerging, or being brought in at an early age (I draw no distinction what-so-ever, they are two sides of a coin really).

    Over the years we’ve all had many favourites, possibles and probables, but very few, only the very best have survived into the first team, as it should be. What age does youth start or “end”. It may start any time in the teens. I would say the cut off is about 22 years, and a little longer for a goalkeeper or defender.

    It is not only about physical and technical skills but psychological maturity, which is a such big part of football. The physical aspect of psychology is probably under-rated too, I mean literally the strength, bulk and physical confidence between man and boy (take Santos and Gibbs for a good example).

    Ramsey is my favourite young player. Song is unquestionably the biggest success (I include Cesc), but Chewie will likely match this. Theo is up there. Giggs, Jenks and Miquel to me look fantastic prospects. Poor Jack was stalled mid-stream by injury and we await next season. ditto Frim really, although his technical side looks a little weaker. Le Coq and Ox are already fan favourites, but its early days for both.

    My only other point is that a young player’s development curve is not linear, like a neat looking upward graph, but chaotic, inconsistent, mobile and it is not easy to predict; but the graph behind so to speak will always look like “steps” as newly acquired skills, physical strength and maturity/confidence at higher levels are applied.

  5. Good read OOU
    The only painful thing is that u stopped wen I was enjoyin reading the piece.

  6. Blame the keyboard, Gibbs.

  7. And Henri Lansbury, Kyle Bartley, Ryo et al. How many of our loanees will make it to the top? Statistically, very few.

  8. mattgoonerknight

    Did you forget to finish your write up today OOU?:)

    Interesting points all the same.

    I suppose the moral is one swallow doesn’t always make a summer – a single good game / couple of games is just that; it doesn’t indicate a trend or a career.

    The same of course is true of the opposite. How many players have been hung out to dry (Song as you allude to being perhaps the most telling case in point) only after a few wobbly fledging performances only to eventually turn out to be world beaters.

    Patience is undoubtedly the key and something those (not so much on ACLF) should remember when screaming for OXO to be played every minute after just a handful, albeit impressive, first team performances.

    Equally, I wasn’t the least bit surprised or dismayed at Oxo’s anonymity during the Newcastle game. It was “funny”; I had some Epsilon semi-moron sat next to me who a) kept on moaning about and calling Walcott “walnut” despite his man of the match display and b) kept on willing on Oxo when it was clearly Gibbs on the ball and berating Gibbs whenever Oxo lost the ball!

    Gibbs is a good example of a Carling Cup graduate success. Still a long way to go to fulfil his undoubted potential but I’m pleased with his efforts so far!!

  9. Exactly this. As the internet allows us to participate in the rising of potential stars in the youth academy it is easy to be overwhelmed by the potential showcased by 5 minute youtube clips.
    Alot of players I was sure would be in the first team by now has gone silently out the back door. Latest addition would be JET. But I am confident of the managers ability to pick the right ones. Quincy would be the prime example of a player who looked like he could reach the stars but who is currently in al-sadd.
    Still have high hopes for Chambo, Ryo, Özyakup and Gnarby.
    And I really whish for Aneke and Freeman to make it as well though I am beginning to doubt that they will play for Arsenal in 2 years time.
    Anyway, good read!

  10. When I moved back to London at the end of the 1990’s I did two things of note.

    1. I joined what turned out to be a three-quarter decade long queue for an AFC season ticket

    and

    2. I started a new hobby of going to every AFC League and FA Cup game I could get tickets for, which in most of the rounds was easy and remarkably cheap.

    Your post today reminded me of that almost innocent era! Whilst the seasoned season ticket holders were basking in the glories of Adams through to The Invincibles I was scraping by on the scraps of the domestic cup competitions.

    But what scraps!!

    As well as being able to take friends I was also able to bask in the last few seasons played out at the old Highbury, a place my Dad had himself had made his home in the 1930’s and the ground where I’d seen my first ever league game in the early 1970’s v Everton (which we won).

    Best part of those years just prior to the opening of the Emirates was being able to see the occasional superstar coming back from injury or other lay-off playing alongside youngsters with real promise. These were the games I first saw a very young Denilson and a certain Cesc.

    When I finally ‘graduated’ to a full season ticket with the opening of the Emirates, those domestic cup matches seemed less important, somehow, although I still attend every home game. Seems silly to say I have a certain nostalgia for something so recent, but there it is.

    A very enjoyable post One of Us, thank you.

    Great to hear I wasn’t the only one watching the likes of Bentley and others and wondering who was going to make it.

  11. Great stuff, Oofus

    I was thinking about Ramsey’s ‘next step’ the other day and I see similarities with Tomas Rosicky’s recovery which came in 18 month instalments; first he tried to everything all at once, realised he was hampered in certain ways – passes weren’t coming off, his spacial radar wasn’t tuned-in, his movement couldn’t keep up with where his head went – so he stripped his game down to the basics and built it up again bit by bit. Most of last season he was still playing ‘a little bit with the handbrake’ – because he wasn’t going to compromise the move with a Hollywood pass or a shot which he didn’t think he could make. This was translated variously by know-it-all fans as disinterestedness, deterioration, ‘being rubbish’ etc. But it’s a slow process – and most of it’s mental I’m sure. I see similar stages to Ramsey’s redevelopment – at times he’s tried too much, and at times he’s stripped things down – and he didn’t get a lot of time to sit down and figure that balance out 1st half of the season. It’s less smooth and worked-out than Rosicky’s redevelopment because he’s a 21yr old but it’s coming. I think what he really needs is preseason – but we might see some breakthroughs before that. He’s undoubtedly going to be a great.

  12. Excellent piece OOU, although be careful what you’re saying. I got slated on this very blog for urging caution after a good display from one of our youngsters this season for being “down” on them. My take on it is that we’ll see what they’re really made of once they’ve played 50+ games for Arsenal. That’s for Arsenal, not some loan spell, as useful as that may be in getting them ready to come back and battle for a place in our first team.

    What I would say is that any young player who gets first team games under Arsene Wenger has a measure of talent, perhaps all of them have the necessary ability to go an and play at the highest level. But as you say, it’s the dedication required or even just a little common sense that many lack which is how many of those held up as the next great hope at Arsenal have ended up plying their trade in much more modest surroundings.

  13. The mugshot in the middle was a little unnecessary though…

  14. mattgoonerknight

    I think the loan system is pretty much the determiner for most youngsters who have first team ambitions at Arsenal.

    Go out on loan, then:

    a) if you do brilliantly, come back and see if you can replicate something on that level here.

    b) Do o.k. You’re still young, so stay out another season at perhaps a different club or in a different league and we’ll see if that works better / speeds up your development.

    c) Fail to impress / get regular game time lower down the leagues, suggesting that you’re some way from the Arsenal 1st team. Time to find another club.

    Also there’s young and there’s “young, but I’ve been in the reserves and on loaned out for the last four years so unfortunately in no longer that young”

    Mark Randall is older than Jack but only left us permanently last summer for Chesterfield. He’s been blighted with injuries so I hope he stays fit and eventually finds himself higher up the leagues.

  15. Stew – I have always wondered why the biggest clubs in the EPL don’t run a second competitive team.

    Okay, as some wag suggested recently, Citeh could almost be renamed Arsenal North but I’m sure it would make huge sense for the likes of Manure et al to have a B side working their way through the leagues (Oh Manure do, don’t they, unofficially!). Imagine the revenue possibilities alone! Not just for the ‘big’ clubs but everyone involved.

    ***

    Limestone – congrats on the success of yours (and Matt’s) petition. I really don’t think you need to worry about getting ‘000s of names (if I’m repeating myself from a few days back, my apologies). As someone wrote yesterday – even if Robson is given cause to rethink his attitude that would be a considerable ‘victory’. Whilst you may be unlikely to get a public response of any kind from the club once you finally present the petition, we may find a change in tone over the coming weeks and months. Can but hope, anyway.

    ***

    So, what odds on the ‘King’ being deposed by the end of the season? I reckon he’s got fewer than five games to sort his Scousey ‘sh*t’ out; Comolli and the doctor were just warnings of the sternest kind. Those damn Yankees are winners, you know!

    Just a question of who goes first, Ken or Mankini? Both look equally clueless to me, could be a close run thing …

  16. pedantic george

    Limpar,Do you think Jack will be the same?
    Because people seem to think he will just take up where he left off except a little better.
    I hear people saying he is our second best player.For me this is a complete nonsense and a burden he does not need.

    OOU “he stumbled into the wrong cave” I am still laughing.

  17. mattgoonerknight

    arsenalandrew

    Agree re. the petition.

    Re. Kenny, breaking news is that their bringing Cruyff at some director type level.

    If Everton beat them in the semi and finish above them in the league the pressure will be firmly on!

    Come on you toffees!!!

  18. Agree, George. Before his injury, for me, Aaron was slightly ahead of Jack so those wrong caves are fraught with danger even if they turn merely into the stuff of bad dreams …

  19. mattgoonerknight

    Nice of Sol to put the boot in while we’re riding the crest of a wave: cheers mate!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17690468

  20. Matt – I heard whisper of a Cruff-type being brought in yesterday (on TalkShite Radio, I think).

    I wonder how long Ken will put up with that; yesterday he made a point of saying how good his relationship with Comolli was …

  21. The thought had crossed my mind, G. Yes, I think it’ll take him a long time to get back to where he left off myself. But then he will have the advantage of a full preseason and a settled, competitive midfield to ease himself into so who knows? Maybe he really is our Keanu Reeves character…

  22. Excellent work as usual OOU – a definite Friday highlight. But, you could have dropped the picture and replaced that space with more of your quality writing. It felt like you ran out of word count when there was a lot more to be said. A part 2 is definitely needed!

  23. That Sol piece is just weird.

    Has he actually seen Arsenal play at any time over the last few months?

    Or has he heard that some petition has got Robson sacked and this is him polishing up his credentials?

  24. pedantic george

    I think Sol is promoting himself in the media at our expense.
    Back to Tottenham with him I say.

  25. mattgoonerknight

    Rambo was definitely ahead of Jack, that’s one of the reasons Jack went out on loan. Then Rambo broke his leg and Jack came back from loan and took his place in the team….I think it was in that order 🙂

  26. Do people think that the mean standard of the kids/reserves/youth team has risen compared to five or six years ago? Whether they are up for the next jump in levels is as always up to them, luck and the football gods. Oh, that could be a topic for ‘Part 2’!

    mgk
    I think I was sat nearby during the Newcastle game!

    Even funnier was listening to ‘Appy ‘Arry on the mighty talkshite this fair morning (I blame Darius & Muppet for picking up this poor habit) talking about modern Wingery:

    “Bale has to cut inside you see otherwise he’ll get marked and kicked out of the game, he can’t play all the time as an orthodox right ole Whinger”, he explained to their in-house footy expert Ronnie Irani (Irani was a dire cricketer). Though if you were to wonder about the same topic upon ACLF you’d need to dodge the flattering snipes (it’s not too hard tbh!) from those who enjoy spending most of their time commenting upon other posters (yesterday yet again being no exception).

  27. “Nice of Sol to put the boot in while we’re riding the crest of a wave: cheers mate!”

    I agree Matt, after everything Arsenal has done for him, another pay day is more important.

  28. PG – it will be interesting to see how Jack is treated as he struggles to regain form following his injury. But I get the feeling that his popularity will mean that his short-comings will be overlooked and there’ll be the scapegoating of one of our 3 current first choice midfielders who is seen as denying him a place. It’s interesting that some people clamour for competition within the squad and then start crying when it impacts on one of their favourites!

  29. Obviously what we the fans don’t see is how a players personality gels with the rest of the squad – or what his underlying fitness scores are when measured in the gym. These days clubs have intimate knowledge of such things and we can only guess at who is going to make it. One thing is for certain – being ‘brought up’ by Arsenal, especially in the Wenger era, adds value to a player and even the ‘failures’ can command reasonable fees (often with sell-on clauses) which all helps to pay for the development of the next generation.
    Compare Arsenals record with that of Tottenham to get a true picture of how it should, and should not, be done.

  30. Passenal – I’m sorry, I know I should keep up but who do you reckon are the Doomers’ (and maybe Sol’s) current Top 3 Scapegoats.

    I’ve completely lost track … (presumably Jack and Per must be red-hot favourites for the future knife-sharpeners, going on previous form?).

  31. pedantic george

    The reality is that Aaron was ahead of Jack,despite him not having the benefit of 10 years in the youth set up.It was not him who was thought to need a loan spell ,He was making huge inroads to the first team.He was a least as big a prospect as Jack.
    And yet now hardly anyone would regard him as being in the same class.
    Well I do.

  32. I do too, George.

  33. pedantic george

    Andrew.Santos if he ousts Gibbs will be next in line.
    And Arshavin of course if he returns.

  34. Quite a lot of factors have to come together for a youngster to ‘make it’. Sometimes it happens first time and sometimes it takes a few attempts until enough comes together for the player. Talent, training, application, education, attitude, personality, luck, injury and timing are all factors. The Arsenal way as it is today are really identifying talanted youngsters at home and abroad. The club now has a signature football style thanks to the way it has setup its training academy and youth systems, how many times do we hear ‘plays the Arsenal way’? Its then up to the kid themselves to avail of that education and with the right attitide and application you have a kid at 16 that has the world at his feet. Then if they have the strong personality needed to not let that go to their heads they will be afforded first team chances. Then its all about staying fit and ready, a bit of luck and timing to get take that chance when it comes. Sometimes its all gravy from there on in, like Cesc. Sometimes its a slow process, like Theo. Sometimes it hits a bump in the road early, like Frimpong. Sometimes its while the player looks right on the verge of cementing their place, like Ramsey. Sometimes its after you have shown you are the real deal that a setback occurs, like Jack.

  35. mattgoonerknight

    fins

    Row seven clock end – perfect position for RVP’s goal, although I needed binoculars and a good imagination for most of the 2nd half (which I was pleased with, as it meant we were up there end)!

    I shouldn’t be unkind as I think he might actually have been dropped at birth, but I don’t get to go often and everything time I do, I seem to get stuck next to either an incessant whiner, wannabe coach or commentator!!!

  36. mattgoonerknight

    their end, oops!

  37. Yep, I hit the word limit at 2am today! No excuse though! I guess I was saying that the traits you see in exciting youngsters may take some time to return once they’re established pros. I don’t believe Song has suddenly learned how to play through passes – he always had it, but needed the confidence of years in the same team to bring it out.

    I don’t really know how you compare today’s youngsters with previous ones. Not qualified to say really, but the reserve team six, seven years ago was ridiculously good – I’ve gone on about Bendtner as a yute before – he could do everything.

    There are probably lots of things to consider. First off it’s so tough to make predictions – as Inside right says, we don’t have the all important inside track. At some point though, around 18 or 19, natural ability seems to give way to self-improvement as the main determiner of a player’s quality. Those couple of years are obviously the big ones. I’d love to know what criteria people like Liam Brady and Steve Bould are looking at. I think they let another apparently hopeful player go in that Alban Bunjaku – seeing him in the u18s you’d think he’d have the talent to at least make a career in football, but it seems we didn’t think much of his attitude.

    I’d be surprised if he’s still playing in five years.

  38. Cannons of Rhetoric

    Great post, thanks for this. A lot of patience is needed with players as they warm into the first team especially after a long time out with injury. The need for a scapegoat in the team is really annoying from members of the fanbase but maybe a reflection of the frustration over the past few years…
    ***

    What a weird time to release that Sol interview by the Beeb. It’s almost like they had that interview a long time back and were waiting for the right time to down gooner spirits….

  39. I think what we often fail to take account of u that young footballers are teenagers who still haven’t grown up yet. We often talk about them as if footballers are robots who have done all their emotional and social maturing by the time they first kick a ball, which is obviously bollox. I can remember when I was 16, and probably many of you can too. To sign up to be a top professional sportsman at that age is a little like signing up to be a monk, such I the devotion and dedication you have to show to the job. Teenage boy… You want to chase girls? Hang around with your old mates? Get pissed and be stupid? Well if you want to be a top professional then all of that stuff has got to come so massively in second place that you end up having a weird life that’s a million miles away from a regular teenager? Is it any wonder that promising talents find that devotion impossible? What about the moment when you sign your first professional contract. Even if it’s tiny like 5000 a week, that’s 250k… Serious company directors money… At the age of 16-17? How many of you would have been able to not go crazy and lose the plot in a blitz of fast cars and loose women? The guys who make it through… Earnest fellows like Fabregas…. Is it any wonder they are so rare?

  40. Does West Ham maintain their own very decent reputation/track record as a youth academy?

  41. 2 am word limit or no, still a great post OOU, thanks again.

  42. Thinking back to my own physical abilities/talents at the age of 18ish, it is easy to understand why so many seemingly “sure things” fizzle out as they enter their early 20’s.

    Body mass increases(generally) which brings much-needed strength, but can have a detrimental effect on pace and quickness. While skill can carry a player, an inability to react quickly enough physically to match their intentions leaves many in the dust. Veteran players who have earned both the respect of the opposition and the positional sense to reduce their reliance on pace may continue productively. But for the younger player, short of learning new and vital aspects of the game, it is a very difficult game.

    The point made earlier about Rosicky is a good one. When you watch him play earlier in his career, his pace was thrilling and likewise his propensity for goals. The injury(ies) have forced him to become a different player. His ability to make fantastic sliding tackles is absolutely amazing, helping to keep the ball in our possession or at the very least disrupting the opponents forward play. Obviously he no longer has the ability strike the ball with the force he once utilized so well, and has turned his attention to this defensive skill, his ball control and passing. It is only a shame that this transformation has occurred following those years “away”.

    Walcott is one who is judged far too harshly and I suspect that Wenger realizes that over-promoting Ox would have serious repercussions for Walcott(including the hoped-for new contract) and Ox. Slowly slowly said the fat man to the tailor.

    Btw, anyone else notice how RVP’s confidence this year has greatly improved his ball control skills? Or perhaps this is also a sign of his maturity and personal development to improve areas of his game not previously crucial?

  43. Fantastic article, OoU. I fully agree that what you first see in a youngster might not be what you end up getting. But at the same time, I think that every young player in the last 10 years or so that was anywhere near the first team was there for a reason. Because he had exceptional talent and therefore a lot of potential. But alas, taking the next step, turning that potential into real ability is never easy and while we can only speculate what the reason might be, why some of them never made it past a couple of CC appereances, we’ve seen many of our “failed” youngsters actually make a decent career for themselves elsewhere.

    ————————————————————————————————-

    What’s it with Sol in recent times? First the Guardian article, now this. Is he bored or just trying to up his credentials as a pundit by showing that he can rip into Arsenal like the best of ’em?

  44. arsenalkl – RVP always had immaculate control, hes a super technical player. But i do afree that hes taking it slower with OX because he feels he may have rushed Theo. It worked a treat with Cesc but the english media ovrdid it with Theo and maybe Wenger feels a bit sorry for that.

  45. I am quite happy that we aren’t fast tracking Ox but instead taking the slow route. I know that some here would’ve loved to see him play week in, week out early in the season and I can also see why they would’ve loved to see him get a couple of more starts under his belt, but at the same time when you’ve got the squad I think letting a player mature slowly is the sensible thing to do. We have seen it too often that too much first team action at an early age can have negative effects, be it because the stress ends up taking a toll on their body or because the pressure coming from raised expectations is too much to bear at times.

  46. The ones who I thought would make it but caught me out, to differing degrees, were JET, Lupoli, Bentley and to an extent Lansbury (he’ll be a pretty good player, but not one for Arsenal).

    However I did call Song & Coquelin well ahead of their breakthroughs. I think everyone called JW. I also wrote three pieces singling out JET, Ozzy and Afobe over 4 years ago so I’ve always been rooting for them to prove my guesswork/judgement right. I stopped after that though: I was meant to write on other exciting prospects but they were the ones I had a gut feeling about and so it sort of left me cold thereafter.

    Frimpong surprised me completely and is a fine example of achievement through effort. Gibbs has surprised me also.

    I never rated or liked Bendtner (at least I never rated him in the way some I know foamed at the mouth over him), I vouched for Denilson and still think he could be a very decent player in the future. I miss Vela, but neither will be back.

    I have to admit the obvious names aside – Bellerin, Eisfield, Martinez… I know little of the current crop of U18s. The names are less familiar than that exciting crop of 2-3 years ago.

    I’d still love Wellington to fulfil his potential but I think he is more likely destined to go astray.

    One of the interesting aspects of this summer will be the trimming of the squad – Gavin Hoyte will finally be on his way – feels like he’s been lurking in the wings forever!

  47. The Real Stew Black

    OOU – what you were just saying about Alex Song and his through balls (oo er) in the last few games I’ve noticed that when his pass behind the defence seems wayward I find myself increasingly wondering if actyually it was the forward not ion his wavelength, not anticipating his vision.
    He has quietly become one of the finest footballers ever to wear the shirt. What does his game lack?seriously.

  48. mattgoonerknight

    This looks fun

    http://www.arsenalscans.com/

    A bit hotchpotch at the moment but still worth a look!!

  49. @Matt
    How could you? I won’t get anything done today because you linked that site!

  50. “Passenal – I’m sorry, I know I should keep up but who do you reckon are the Doomers’ (and maybe Sol’s) current Top 3 Scapegoats.”

    Andrew I meant that one of Song/Arteta/Rosicky will be the next scapegoat as they are the current first choice midfielders who would be seen as keeping him out of the team, unless Arsene decides to use him on the left-wing to ease him back in.

  51. Hi Steww,

    Here’s what I think – with a couple more years as this all-round midfielder, and if he wins stuff with us (people are inevitably going to use that as a barometer), I think we’d be justified to name him as one of the best in his position. The best part has been watching him improve all the time. I think it hints at a lot of focus.

    ZP, yeah, it’s a reputation they’re keen to cultivate as well, calling themselves “England’s Academy” or something. Recent newcomers to their first team aren’t quite up to Carrick and Ferdinand though.

    Evil, I like the idea that they were all there on merit and not some kind of experiment or for AW to show off. I think squads have to be dynamic in order to be successful over a few years, so if the manager thinks the time and effort needed to let someone like Ramsey or Song learn on the job is worth it, then so be it. I think youth is needed in every squad – for some of the reasons I listed in the blog, and because I imagine an injection of youthful enthusiasm would benefit any group.

  52. Dynamic, as in, not the same group of players aging together, but giving youngsters a look when deserved with an eye on the future.

  53. You have seen all his goals now see all his assists, accompanied by someone on the ol’ joanna

  54. OOU – Nice post. Interesting subject as well.

    The players I thought would make it with us initialy were Vela/Denilson/JET/Bentley. The likes of Randall never looked good enough.

    More often than not the thing that makes the difference for a youngster at this level is attiutude, not talent. Anybody anywhere near the Arsenal (or any other PL side) 1st team obviously has talent, but can they apply it? Can they be 100% dedicated.

  55. Le Boss says “There is a possibility for Gibbs [to play against Wigan]. It is 50:50 that he will be available again. He is improving day to day and has been practising but not with the team,” Wenger said.

    “Gervinho is a strong possibility to face Wigan, he is 80:20.

    “Diaby will not play against Wigan. He is alright though. Diaby and Coquelin will come back into the squad next week for full training.”

  56. Deise what was Gibb’s injury this time?

  57. *ahem*
    Gibbsy had a tired groin.

  58. Jonny – He has “groin fatigue”. We should play Santos anyway IMO.

  59. OOU – What an excellent idea for a post! Like many before, I thought this was just an outline with much more to go.

    While reading the many excellent responses, I was beginning to wonder when would the D-word be mentioned. Eventually Johnny came to the rescue. Have to agree with him – the Brazillian should not be written off. However to me he is a more interesting subject that is totally consistent with OOU’s thesis of talent vs achievement being affected by many internal and external variables. The speed at which Denilson has been written off after being among the top midfielders in England at 18-19 years of age is to me simply mind-blowing. Seeing Arteta dominate defensive midfield as a very technical passer with supreme positional skills making tippy-tappy passes (note to j-j) typifies the type of player Denilson was projected to become. But a combination of physical growth impeding his youthful speed, stress of too many games and the overwhelming negative pressure of the short-sighted nationalists and jingoists, who sam him as the obstacle to young Jack, has cut short the promising start of a youngster who is now 23(?) years old.

    I agree with Passenal and the Pedantic One; someone must become the new scapegoat after the return of Jack

  60. Shotta awaits a hail of return fire from the realists.

  61. Shotta – Heh, well i for one can’t be bothered to get into the whole Denilson thing again. it has been done a million times over. Don’t think we will ever see him in an Arsenal shirt again, so I wish him well wherever he plays. Hopefully somewhere with slower refs as not to show him up 😉

    I am off to a BBQ soon and it is raining. Meh, the beer will still be cold. 🙂

  62. OOU
    Thanks for the replies. I remember now your earlier descriptions of that youth team.
    Having a football brain so small that you’d need an electron microscope to see it I can safely say that I am definitely not qualfied to comment.

  63. Ahh the kids are alright, right!
    I remember thinking Lupoli was going to be Wrighty MkII and rat faced Bentley was sure to make it too. Same with JET, Stephen Hughes, Bunjaku, and loads of others.

    Gibbs went to Burnley (I think) and hardly set the world alight and yet he looks a definite 1st teamer for us, so even a dodgy loan spell doesnt mean they won’t make it with us.

    I always go overboard, get carried away and think all the yutes will end up in our 1st team.

    As for ramsey, he has looked really good most of the season and has looked tired more than anything when not playing well. hardly surprising IMO. He will be brilliant next season, and Jack will hopefully be fit and be eased in slowly after a long lay off.

    Coquelin is one of the players I had high hopes for and its fantastic news to hear that he is not far off a return.

    Fins

    Once again spot on (about the flattering snipes!!) 🙂

  64. @GA
    Sorry to single you out, but this “being overtaken by the ref” stuff is pure bullshittery of the highest order. Anyone who has ever watched a football match has seen midfielders jog back during a counter attack because there were defenders covering and so instead they focussed on tracking a different player, cutting out passing options or getting into position for a rebound etc. In fact, I’ve seen Rosicky do it quite a few times over the past few games and Arteta, too.

  65. All 116 assists! Thanks, Deise!

  66. Got it right Evil @12:34 pm. How about simply collapsing on the field as a 19-20 year old as your back gives way (under the stress)?

  67. Bananas….

  68. Good post OOU, i feel this post needs a part 2 still

    I was rooting so hard for Ramsey to score against Wolves, because the doomers are starting to get on his back. He looks like he is lacking some confidence as he is thinking too much. i have always felt he was the player that would bring a little diversity to our style of play and pop up with 10 goals a season as he has a knack of getting into some good positions. I think the pre season would do him a lot of good, but i think for now he should keep things simple and build his confidence again.

    Jamie Sanderson from young guns blog has got me really excited about Hector Berellin, and Serge Gnarby. I look forward to seeing them and also Eisfeld

  69. Anyways, rather than get into keyboard warfare, I will end my contribution to the topic saying tht ultimately Denilson’s redemption at this stage of his career is up to Denilson himself.

  70. I suspect Talkshite found Sol on a park bench surrounded by plastic bags of stuff, chatting and giggling to himself. Just stuck a microphone under his nose and offered him a Big Mac and a plastic bottle of industrial strength cider. Silly cunt.

  71. Even for those players not making the Arsenal 1st team, there are many examples of where there Arsenal football education has given them an opportunity at another EPL club. I give you Sebastin Larssen as a prime example, but not the only.

  72. Mgk

    I was in the ‘West Upper’ against Newcastle. Usually I prefer to see games from the northern side of the ground (goals! Like RVP’s 100th *swoons*) but from my position, halfway between the new Clock End and the halfway line I had a very nice view of Vermaelan’s run.

  73. I think this article explains exactly the difference between Frimpong and Coquelin and their internal fight to become deputy DM to Song. While both have talent I think Francis will put in the hard work that is needed in become a vaiable option. Will Manny stop partying and get his head int he game, otherwise Fanny will take his place.

  74. Groin fatigue? I think Wenger and Colin Lewin, hell even Jethro’s girlfriend’s mother should advise him not to have too much sex. If he has a tired groin, what of his girlfirend’s fate?

    Great article by the way Big Al.

  75. When Naser Barazite was sold I was as temporarily “broken” as pedantic george is/was with Arshavin. I thought Barazite was Robert Pires all over again. And he may still become that player. But sadly not for us. He had the potential, and is still doing alright in Vienna (I think). He may be one of those late blossomers!

    Learning to play the Arsenal way from an early age is not without risk. Arsenal youth (as we know) play the same way as the first team. And when the first team change their way of playing, this immediately filters down the youth ranks. But what they always focus on is “space”, how to make it, how to find it, and how to use it. (Which is what Denilson, while we’re on the subject, was so good at.) The trouble arises when a player leaves Arsenal either on-loan or is sold. There are not that many teams that play with that same amount of awareness and so it must be effing dispiriting to find the passes you play, or the movements you make, being missed by your new team-mates…team mates who will most likely, never be on the same wave-length. And then, like Randall perhaps, you think wtf and become a mediocre player (again).

    I agree with ChrisN’s comments earlier.

    Oh, and also whoever mentioned Serge Gnarbry.

    But who knows. But if Gnarbry does make it, we will have one hell of a player on our hands.

  76. Sometimes it’s useful to stick to facts, and leave hearsay, innuendo and garbled guesswork to geniuses. I think it is a fact that Denilson, Bendtner (and Vela?), are out on loan. It’s speculation why this is, but the fact that they remain on our books, and Arsenal players means only that they can return. It wouldn’t surprise me if Denilson did, to understudy Arteta.

  77. I’ve always said success in life in any profession is a quarter skill, a quarter effort, and half luck. that last includes who you are lucky to know of course.

    some people manage to have do much skill they overcome bad luck, or work so hard they overcome a lack of skill, but most need all three.

    in football, playing for arsenal already involves some luck that you got noticed – there are plenty of other academies you can end up at as a child. but more luck is needed. you need an opening in the first team. you need a path not blocked by other prospects. a lack of injuries. a few shots to go in off the post.

    would quincy be as good as theo if he had as many games? would tr a o r e if gael had not been always healthy? how many defensive midfielders got derailed by flamini having one good season?

    eastm a n got derailed by two young competitors, and will probably not make it. by the same token, we currently have do much strength in the wings, and so much youth, that a young winger has little chance. a very young one i mean.

  78. When Wenger sells, he generally sells.

  79. mingus

    Ahh Nacer, we have a problem! I was gutted when he left too man, always thought he’d make it (I always do, should stop and reflect on that sometime!) And Kerea Gilbert looked like he had a long and illustrious Kerea with us when he burst onto the seen at RB!

    As forSerge Gnarbry, I think we need to hold fire and not hype him up too soon, he’s 16!

    Ebicilio is gonna be a massive player for us though (Oh shit, I’ve done it again!) 🙂

  80. A fairly obvious point as to why we don’t see more young players breaking in to the top teams is that it is extremely difficult for a young player to break through when you are generally competing for a place with an established Premier League player, and if you are to believe we have the strongest league in the world, arguably one of the top 10 players in the world in your postion.

    If you also add in to the mix that team’s that are competing for titles or league positions are generally a little more reluctant to take any risks / chances by blooding youngsters then it becomes even more difficult.

    Based on that, you have to love our set up, and the way we are geared as a club to cultivate talent internally, although patience is a requisite, as it was always going to take at least a decade of high level coaching and facilites to really see the best results.

    For me, JET is probably the one that got away – the boy has everything talent wise, I suspect his work rate and attitude prevented him from becoming a contender for a first team place.

    I can also remember seeing a 15 year old Jack – It was never in any question that he wasn’t going to make it, I would happliy say he is the best and most naturally gifted young english player I have seen since Paul Gascoine.

  81. As the mistake seems to proliferating, and not because I’m after George’s pedantry hat, please note it’s Serge ,i>Gnabry and Hector Bellerin.

    😉

    Serge does come rather hotly tipped – not seen much of him myself.

    I wonder what will come of Chuks Aneke – there’s a lad who seems to have all the ingredients (a great passer with great first touch, and he’s a big solid lad in physical terms – 6″3 and built like a brick privvy) but has failed to really settle at Stevenage only 6apps I think.

    As others have said, it must be difficulty to adapt – to ‘un-Arsenalise’. Nonetheless cream rises to the top and I do believe talented players with the right will learn to adapt and add the changes to their game rather than to let it detract them by dragging them down.

    BTW his full name is Chukwuemeka Ademola Amachi Aneke – worth a lot in scrabble terms at the very least.

  82. Gnabry not Gnarbry that was, and Bellerin not Berrelin!

  83. Anyone hear this –

    http://www.talksport.co.uk/radio/drivetime/120412/durhams-rant-rvp-showed-lack-class-against-wolves-169659?

    He must be on a complete windup, i certainly hope so anyways

  84. Limestonegunner

    Playing too many games too early does seem to have physical consequences. It did for Jack, Ramsey hit a wall mid-season physically, and I think one could argue that Cesc’s jammy hammies might have been partly caused by the toll of so many intense games at age 17-21 in PL and CL games.

    So this is a very good reason why bringing players 21 and under slowly is important. The second good reason is that as talented as they are, they are inconsistent and need to be learning from experienced players.

    ZP said above that Denilson could come back and understudy Arteta. Isn’t that what he should have been doing between 17-21/22? Instead he and Song played a lot of games and assumed a huge amount of responsibility after Flamini, Gilberto, and Diarra left after 2007-08. Denilson struggled with injuries (possibly exacerbated by playing so much so young in a very physically demanding midfield position in a physical league) while Song had his early difficulties before progressing.

    Now it seems AW either has the resources or has shifted slightly his approach toward balance between solid experienced players in their prime and young developing talent perhaps. In those days with balloon payments on the highbury real estate project, it was perhaps a necessary gamble. Luckily now we have the ability to have an Arteta at 29 or 30 playing for us so that Coquelin or Denilson can come in and develop. Wouldn’t it have been good for Denilson and Song to have had Arteta or Alonso four years ago after Gilberto left?

    This season Ramsey had to play a lot and carry a big creative burden earlier than would be ideal, I think. It’s because Cesc and Nasri left, Jack got injured, and we didn’t really have a midfield creator ready to go. Arteta doesn’t play that way as great as he is and Rosicky just wasn’t back to levels of fitness and so on.

    Let’s cut Ramsey some slack. I’ve been a big defender of his and think he will be an Arsenal great perhaps. I’m sure though that he will be at the very least a quality player in a winning squad/team

  85. Best ignored Deise,

    Durham only says ‘outrageous’ things to provoke people to call in to the show, this generating TalkShite calls and money.

  86. Deise

    He is a complete tit, simply a poor attempt at shock jockery, taking a stance just for the reaction. In short, a c*nt.

  87. good piece birdkamp on the subject of bentley it must have been a typo when you added the s

  88. Ah, Jonny, wanting to add pedant to all the other adjectives I see. 😉

  89. Great post, OOU – got everyone thinking again!

    I agree with Matt, mgk. And probably some others as well but I’ve forgotten who, by now!

    When you think about all the different factors that have to work out, plus the timing, the luck involved, the restrictions on which youngsters we can take and the very high standard which has to be achieved it is quite miraculous that ANYBODY makes it into the first team at all! So one or two a year is a very creditable achievement by Liam Brady and his staff. Brady said in an interview that the hardest thing was having to release a talented youngster because his physique just wasn’t going to stand up to the rigours of the PL. Jack was borderline, and accordign to AOC, he himself was nearly released TWICE by Southampton for the same reason.

    That period when they have outgrown the Reserves is a time pregnant with promise – but which of them will fulfil it? This is why I love the Carling Cup. Like many of us, I am fascinated by the young players, partly for the reason that you can’t know – it’s all about possibilities. It creates such a poignant feeling to watch these kids for whom every day brings a fork in the road, where the wrong choice or some chance occurrence, even if apparently trivial, can derail or delay their progression. Are you watching the next Wilshere? Or the next Bentley? Is this a game to which you will hark back in 5, 10, 15 years’ time and say, that is where it all started for Player X? All part of the drama of football.

  90. And I also demand a part 2, birdkamp, my good man. I’m a bit poorly today and I need cheering up.

  91. Limestonegunner

    And of course interesting as usual, if abruptly ended, birdkamp (excellent moniker!)

  92. Limestonegunner

    Hope you feel better, FG; alas no game over the weekend.

    Mattgooner, we’re past 300. Shall we send or give a few days?

  93. jonnyneale

    Chukwuemeka Ademola Amachi Aneke.

    That’s name is a Nigerian name.

  94. Limestonegunner

    Typical brilliant analysis from AW. He always moves beyond the current terms of the debate. In this case arguing for ways that the flow of the game can improve. 50-50 offside calls could be checked afterward if the ref forbears from throwing the flag up unless really convinced–in other words playing a sort of advantage that can be rectified moments later if critical to the game. How often is play stopped because of a close offsides call. To my mind this is one of the ways that is most obvious that the game is slowed down and the modern offsides rule gets in the way of good attacking play.

  95. Yup his parents are Nigerian so that would fit. 😉

    Easiest to stick to Chuks, I think.

    Bet he was known as ‘Nunchuks’ at school.

  96. Just Another Luke

    Just had an evil thought concerning Cashley Cole’s Chelsea: Won’t it be fun to see them crashing out of the FA Cup, Champions League and top 4 contention within the space of 6 days from 15th Apr (FA Cup semi) to 21st Apr when they play at our Emirates with the Champions league game midweek against Barca?

  97. Just Another Luke

    Sorry for digressing from the main topic.

  98. Luke, No – as that would mean Spurs being in the Final.

    As much as I hate to say it – would much rather see Chelsea beaten by Everton than Spurs have a chance.

  99. I doubt Spurs, on current form, will finish above Chelsea. Newcastle is a wild card. Everton, relatively unperturbed by league position issues, will be a very difficult prospect in FA Cup for either.

  100. Just Another Luke

    Matt

    My preferred FA Cup final has Everton v Spurs with Everton winning. 🙂

  101. Spurs have a much better run in – and we need to beat Chelsea next week, so can’t see Chelsea catching Spurs ZP.

    Now Newcastle could be dangerous – but they have a tricky run in too.

  102. Just Another Luke

    Ideally,the sharing of the spoils as follows:

    ManUre: Champion
    Arsenal/Man City; 2nd/3rd
    Newcastle: 4th

    FAC winner: Everton

    Mickey Mouse Cup winner: Liverfools.

    Europa League: Chelsea, Spurs.

  103. i think martinez is most likely to make it out the current reserves.As for thye standard of the young players it is alot better than a few years ago with each batch providing two or three real contenders for the first team every year.Alot of loanees stand a great chance of coming back into the squad. The standard of players we are getting rid of each year is also rising which is also a mark of higher quality and sucess rate

  104. Just another Luke – yes that sounds ideal to me. I’d love it. LOVE IT. If Newcastle finished 4th.

  105. I’m not sure run-in opposition counts for that much at this stage, although Spurs do have it easier than the other three. The thing is, playing a bottom six club who have to, have to, have to not lose, and the manager says “just 90 minutes of incredible effort, and we could survive” is a frightening phsyical prospect. I’m just basing on the fact that Chelsea, many of the same players, have a pedigree in “the late season surge” and are playing pretty well, whereas Spurs are dropping their focus rapidly. It’s hard to re-capture form (momentum) in a poor run; you need time and Spurs don’t have it.

  106. Maybe you are right ZP…

    As long as we finish 3rd now, I have to say I don’t really care too much, although us being 3rd and Newcastle 4th would be most agreeable!

  107. That said, I could not care less where anyone else finishes except Arsenal, and of course that Jack wins his bet, and ld traditions do not end (St Totts Day). They’re all the same to me. Prefer Newcastle though, just. And hope City utterly fails on all counts and Mancini fired. Hope Wigan stays up, and Swansea and Norwich do well. Hope Everton gets the FA Cup. That’s it really.

  108. I’d love a situation where we are clear with a game (or two, who knows, not likely) to go, and Wenger picks a little dream team, with Diaby.

  109. Well in Santos – Speaking to ESPN Brasil, he said, “In the first half Balotelli almost broke Song’s leg, than he harshly tackled Sagna. Someone had to be hard on him, put him in his place.

    “Someone had to say something to him because he was doing what he wanted, and that’s not how things work.

    “I was watching from the bench. When I was on the pitch I’d have the job to mark him, and that’s what I did. It’s part of the game.”

  110. Badass Santos a side we haven’t seen yet.

  111. Sensational Arsenal

    nice of santos to do that. That is just one of the things that make you feel Arsenal is a family. I love to see the players sticking up for each other.

    Wenger’s response to Sol Campbell was brilliant. Why would anyone talk nonsense about Arsenal given the way they are currently playing and the man in charge.

    Here is his response:

    “Sol Campbell has a lot of money, his gifts are welcome”

    “If he gives us money, we will spend it, believe me. The best way always to give advice is to show example. Give your own money and we will spend it.”

    “What has not changed at all is our policy – that we will be ambitious as ever and spend the money we have available,” Wenger explained.

    “We’ll always spend money because we are very ambitious for top-class players and if we look at the history of our last 15 years we have always had top-class players and, incidentally, Sol Campbell is one of them.

    “People forget we had a terrible start to the season down to the fact that we had injuries and transfers.

    “Our ambition is in tact – to win the championship – and it depends now how we finish the season to decide how much we need to buy to have a good chance to win the championship next season.”

  112. good topic..
    good post..

    i think it shows the youth policy works..not all the players make it but it generates the club with a decent return..
    i cant remember the full fee..but bentley for example brought in around 10mil in profit..

    the absolute cream of the crop come out of the kiddie system, the best one ive seen is cesc although jacks breakthrough season was not far off..
    theres also a few who take a few years to get going, like theo and rambo..

    the rest? they help bring in revenue..although we need to stop selling the very best ones when they start to getting in and around the ‘top quality’ bracket

    one of the things that tickles my balls about all this is that the new batch of project youth is the best ive seen for a while..
    in any project it may take a few tries to get it right..a few years go by and you make mistakes and learn from them before you hit the spot..

    im confident we could have unearthed a core group of young superstars this time around..
    i feel it would be a better scenario for the likes of le coq, le ox, le rambo, le ryo. le jenks and le jack for us to integrate them in slowly into a strong first team..and not throw them all in at once like we have done with previous batches and watching them get mentaly and physically battered..

    if we look at our first team its pretty solid and thats without most of the wonderkids..
    this summer we should maybe look to make our first 18-20 solid…then back a solid first team and a solid bench up with our future stars..

    then we can start bringing them in when we are on winning streaks and giving them a taste of blood..instead of throwing them in like a rabbit in headlines and giving them a taste of their own blood..

    if we wouldnt have bought the experienced players last summer we wouldnt have recovered with just the kids..
    this was a year of nervous breakdown proportion, it needed a whole load of seasoned pros to get us out of it and almost get us over the line..
    we could do with a few more..

    then next season, come May i dont think we’ll be 20 points of 1st spot..

  113. SA
    i chuckled when i read those comments..
    wenger knows sol has money cos wenger paid him his wages for best part of a decade.. 🙂

    funniest thing about it all is..sol basically came in on a free transfer.. 🙂 and hes calling for money to be spent (if its true)

    to be fair his wages were astronimical he was on well over 100k a week but thats only cos we saved about 30mil on a fee – he was better than rio..he was the best defender in the league..

    situation with robin is similar..best striker in the league..
    showing him the money will help make his mind up.. and it will end up costing us less than forking out the 30mil it will cost to buy someone like robin

  114. JAL

    I’m pretty sure that if Everton win the FA Cup, only the 5th placed team in the PL goes into the Europa League. Normally one of the cup winners qualifies for the Champions League which opens up another space for 6th place. Unless of course, England gets a place via the Fair Play League which will go to 6th place.

  115. Super article!

  116. if everton win the fa cup and finish above liverpool it will be brilliant..
    it will serve them right for sacking commoli and not kenny..
    hes turned liverpool into what graham turned us into near the end..a good cup team but totally shite in the league..

    and his management skills and PR skills are shite..

    liverpool have created a cultured of ugly football and ugly personalities and its left a sour taste in the PL mouth..

    commoli got some good players in, especially suarez.. and theyve been poorly managed.
    im pretty much convinced if suarez was a wenger player the racism thing would never have happened and everyone would be making comparisons with aguerro..
    hes wasted at liverpool..

    the formations built to benefit carrol..kennys a joke..

  117. ZP – why on earth would you want Mancini out? He’s ideal! 😉

    An incompetent buffoon at best. I have never rated him – his achievements in Italy were on the back of others work and iduring the aftermath of the betting scandal, which conveniently opened the field for him to have to do very little in order to have a shot at winning.

    What we have seen here, in spite of his embarrassing expenditure, is that when he is presented with a challenge he hides from it or tries to nullify it. He’s a cowardly manager, too scared of losing to risk winning.

    I hope he is kept on regardless of the season’s outcome because whoever his replacement is will undoubtedly do a far, far better job.

  118. Just finished reading all the comments. Particularly love deisegooner’s A.Santos qoutes!

  119. I really loved the Mancini who played at Sampdoria. Particularly when he made a magnificent four with Lombardo, Platt and Gullit when they were runners up in serie A. It’s sad that his coaching doesn’t reflect the classy player he was!

  120. Sorry to hear you are not well FG – get better soon. Great post @ April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm. Look at Szczesny – allegedly threatening to leave, kicks a ball at Fabianski (who was in great form at the time) damages his shoulder, bish, bash, bosh – Szczesny in, Fabianski out and the rest is history.

  121. Good stuff Big Al!

    I agree with Shotta and Jonny regarding Denilson. A fine talent that has been jacked up by injuries and cruel people.

    As far as the petition, it came to me that we should post it on the various sites prior to and after matches. That is when people blog the most.

  122. “It’s sad that his coaching doesn’t reflect the classy player he was!”

    One doesn’t always follow the other KG.

    My money is on the return of the special needs one.

  123. Jonny.

    With fear and dread of re-opening yesterday’s fun threads and ruining OOU’s fine post and diverting from the many interesting comments above, Calciopoli was not a betting scandal. It was a match fixing scandal. : )

    Moving swiftly on…enjoy your Arsenal free weekend everybody.

  124. Arsene Wenger cracks me up – this one should become a classic and it’s true. It’s always so easy to spend someone else’s money!

    “Sol Campbell has a lot of money, his gifts are welcome”

    “If he gives us money, we will spend it, believe me. The best way always to give advice is to show example. Give your own money and we will spend it.”

  125. FYI: An archive of that particular epsiode – http://calcioitaliascandal.blogspot.co.uk
    ‘…the referee-rigging “Calciopoli” scandal…’

  126. “Calciopoli was not a betting scandal. It was a match fixing scandal. : )”

    Which strangely enough involved certain ‘friendly’ referees being appointed to key matches

  127. Fins, ah yes, spot-on. My bad.

    Second beer, you know. 😉

  128. Limestonegunner | April 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Quality post, and I think you are spot on.

  129. just because match fixing and stuff happens doesnt mean it happens here..

    im sure theres cases where such things have been highlighted but lets face it, this country isnt exactley a bed of roses, but at the same time its not a place thats run by the mafia, tyrants or communists..

    we are pretty tight as far as these things go..you cant even place a bet in bookies on a player to score first against a team he used to play for without computer saying no..those bets have to be monitered and okayed by head office..annyone who bets will know what im talking about..a 10sec bet turns into 30mins of red tape and phone calls before you can put your 50p on.. simply becuase they have a system that closes the bet if theres any sign of foul play..even if its a former player….

    everyones calling for video evidence.
    if wengers quotes on the topic today were written on this blog would there be any disagreements with it??

  130. “Which strangely enough involved certain ‘friendly’ referees being appointed to key matches”

    Ha! I feel that to understand the ties the football people involved had and that many continue to have with criminal organisations is to understand Italy which gives understanding of the fertile ground for Calciopoli.

    It could happen here, but one should be careful of drawing direct tangents to Italy, without careful consideration to those crucial influential factors.

    😉

  131. Or – what JJ said.

    And off goes the eternal disagreement again!

    Like an Ethopian at the Olympics, this one is going to run and run.

  132. what the feck is it with our ex players…their all like a bunch of bloody bitter ex’s.

  133. Sickening isn’t it Duke? It would ALMOST be understandable if was at the point of the season when things looked bleak but NOW?!

    Not all of us run away to momma half way through the game.

    STFU.

  134. News of the world?

  135. mattgoonerknight

    Chim chiminy, chim chiminy, chim chim chiroo, who needs Sol Campbell when we’ve got Djourou

  136. Trevor Francis in hospital after a heart attack… 😦

  137. Just wanted to mention that we have seen matches rigged in Germany as well, and not just in former East Germany either. and when it comes to corruption etc. I don’t think that Germany is any worse at all compared to England.

  138. Where is sol now, not down the priory still is he??? anyway he mugged Wenger off didnt he saying he was gunner play abroad then turned up down at pompey with a big old brass fukin neck. the bloody cheek.

    bloody great signing when we got him though as like JJ said he was the best at that time and as soon as we got him we all knew the title would follow.

    shame ex players have to tarnish their reps, like smithy…i always had that moany gits shirts. he fukin loves the mancs more then us now…i would like some biased blind loyalty from our ex’s.(like ex scouse players)..

  139. I don’t pay these ex Arsenal players any mind, Petit and Campbell. They are looking for attention.

  140. pretty much agree with duke..
    i do like sol, i met him once and he did speak to me..briefly
    but his comments are ill timed..

  141. Agreed Evil there has been corruption across Europe – Germany was the tip of the Iceberg. Not only that, widespread corruption was revealed to be endemic in Germany, with Siemens being the highest profile example. In fact Germany has a VERY long history of match fixing from before the wall fell – then 2005, 2009 and so on.

    I do think it could happen here I just refuse to casually take faith it is the cast-iron truth in absentia of proper evidence.

    In the wake of the 2009 scandal – which engulfed numerous countries in Europe, and involved a gang of Eastern European mafia types, they investigated matches in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia-Hercegovina & Austria!

    They also did some raids in the UK but found no evidence.

    All of which proves nothing but, as a bit of a rationalist, I remain open to the idea without making up my mind.

    I do feel some are working the other way round.

  142. I’m sure if they raided Mike Rileys house they’d uncover some incriminating evidence.

  143. innocent until proven guilty..

    corruption is policed..as highlighted by all the cases across wherever..

    with all this ‘evidence’ there is why hasnt the case been cracked yet?
    unless theres no case, because theres no real evidence..

    so why instead of pride ourselves in that fact do we try to make out we a part of it??
    just because we dont win?

    silly..

  144. One principal difference is that the UK has been largely free from the influence of true ‘organised crime’ in the sense of a ‘mafia’ (endemic in Eastern Europe and a fucking institution in Italy) for years.

    Germany shares borders with Poland, which is another mafia hotbed (it’s football has been a regular repeat offender).

    I hope I am right – strangely enough I feel that some people would actually prefer it was found to be corrupt.

    But then I guess everyone likes to be right. 🙂

  145. @Jonny
    I personally don’t think that there is proper match fixing in England, certainly not in the Premier League. Lower leagues — hell, why not? Wasn’t there a report recently about County Cricket being fixed, by domestic players and all that? So one can’t say that we haven’t seen that kind of manipulation in England. But at the same time some people seem to genuinely believe that England is some sort of last harbour of honesty in the world and that corruption is possible everywhere but not in the UK, as if by virtue of being English you can’t be bribed. This holier-than-thou attitude-shit gets on my tits, to quote Alan Davies.

  146. Jonny, george does i know that much!!

  147. no evil.
    its the other way round i feel sometimes.
    ppl scream corruption becuase they have the opinion england is the last harbour of honesty..therefore wanting to taint that…

    cricket isnt football…just like england isnt italy..

  148. JJ,

    If only Wenger got his shopping in early a?? we were all crying out for wenger to offload the weak minded and bring in some fukin players who were up for it. 27 points out of 30 thats title form. really this sol article must be old coz the way we are playing now if we keep this team no one is going to touch us next year.

  149. duke
    i think weve got a chance next year..
    if we have a better summer than the last one..

  150. MDGunner @ 9:14pm – Possibly the most intelligent of all your postings, I can find no fault with what you say at all. Well said 🙂

  151. As long as the players stay, we will be the best team in the PL next season. Well…we are now but we will add the silverware next seasono. What we are looking at is a team that can be the best in the world. All the other teams have quite a few aging players, most of our players are not even in their prime as yet.

    Blow wow!

  152. If we keep all the players we currently have and get them to sign their contract extensions, get the rumoured signing of Poldi done and add maybe one more player (but that’s not a must, rather a wild card if Arsène identifies a player of top quality for the right price that will undoubtedly improve us) as well as the usual intake of talented youngster signings (like Oxo and Jenks last year) it will have been a fantastic summer in my opinion. But that’s in an ideal world. I fear that it won’t be that easy. Maybe someone will be looking for a new challenge, others might leave looking for more first team action while some will just be lured away by money calling. And should any of the cases happen, and I sincerely hope that they don’t, we will have to replace those players.

  153. Im a staunch supporter of Wenger, and I absolutely love the feel good vibe thats returned to the club following the recent run. BUT, the true test will come in the summer. We HAVE to invest, our first X1 is undoubtedly a good side, but at the moment we are only playing one game a week. Next season, we are going to be playing 3 games a week for a month at a time, and its during that period when titles are won and lost.

    Thats why I cannot reteriate enough, we HAVE to invest tin 3-4 solid players who can do a job. Van P will not be able to play 60-70 games next season, not with this being a Euros year, and its exactly because of this that makes the summer one of the most crucial in a long time. Get it right, invest in the right players, trim the squad in the right manner, get in a good pre season without to many injuries, and we’ll be challenging for the title.
    Fail to tie Van p, Song, Walcott etc onto new deals, invest at the last minute in response to departures, and I think we will be back to square 1

  154. Just what shade of purple is SAF’s nose exactly? Or would it be more rightly considered mauve?

  155. Limestonegunner

    Cheers, Passenal!

    Irish, blood purple–a special color all Fergie’s own…

  156. When watching the Wigan/Manure game the camera showed a close up at one stage, I swear it seemed to change color right in front of me!! Very creepy. Even more so in Hi-Def.

  157. I’m going with ‘hint of port’.

    It’s 7.30 and I’ve been awake for an hour.

  158. mattgoonerknight

    Right, first of all, I’m not trying to scaremonger but I do want some of you guys to put my mind at ease because I’m confused.

    http://www.goonersworld.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=21858&sid=ce18c09e41530051e14a7d34101baa22

    Anyone got any info on this?

  159. I don’t swallow it MGK.

    I remember the miserable looking bastard though. I couldn’t stop laughing at his downturned mouth. The very picture of misery.

  160. mattgoonerknight

    A good sign is how blatant he’s being, but I can’t think of any other positives.

    “Dinner with great company”

    I’m really confused because at face value this looks shit on various levels.

  161. mattgoonerknight

    Right, I’ve done some more dtective work and hopefully this I think this is the truth

    Squid Boy ‏ @TheSquidBoyLike

    Robin follows this Famlan person, just so you know. So the dude must be a family friend. I think we’re okay, folks. You can breathe again.

    Reading Aquid Boy’s timeline on Twitter, he seems to know the whole story.

    https://twitter.com/?tw_e=screenname&tw_i=190945739017420800&tw_p=tweetembed#!/TheSquidBoyLike

    Apologies for the scaremongering – wasn’t my intention just wanted my mind put at ease.

  162. Oh Gawd. Now just watch as the press get hold of this and the media shitstorm enfolds.

    I’m bored just thinking about it.

  163. mattgoonerknight

    jonny, bob

    Check out the Twitter link above. There seems to be a rational, perfectly harmless reason.

    I’m sure if the media do start peddling this, RVP wan’t hesitate to discredit it.

  164. mattgoonerknight

    won’t not wan’t – whatever word that is!

  165. I’m sure that is the truth but why did he look so miserable at the match?

    Just one of those faces maybe.

  166. The Real Stew Black

    You always know a post that starts
    “Im a staunch supporter of Wenger, and I absolutely love the feel good vibe thats returned to the club following the recent run.”
    isn’t going to be worth reading.
    I don’t know about you but I’ve never felt the need to reassure anyone how much I support the club and all of it’s staff. Isn’t that a given?

  167. mattgoonerknight

    TRSB

    What post is that?

  168. Stop peddling fucking crap

  169. mattgoonerknight

    Frank

    I assume you’re talking to me. If so, read all of my posts again – hardly promoting the idea rather trying to discredit it / get more info to put my mind at ease hence my post at 8.56 and subsequent tweets.

    If you still feel I’m peddling crap rather than updating ACLF’s on what is already doing the rounds practically everywhere else then apologies and, well, fuck you.

  170. Heh! Morning Frank! 😉

  171. Like carpenteraaaaaaaa11
    I am a devotee
    of Tomáš Rosický

  172. Who’d have thunk it. Arsenal have a squad!

  173. Brazil.

  174. Show me a left back like Santos and I’ll show you a liar.Thanks finsbury for the videos.

    OOU very nice post though I am a day late in reading it and very nice comments from most of the commentators.

  175. commenters rather

  176. I watched the City game again last night,without the nervous squirming that accompanies the live game.
    I noticed a few things.
    Firstly,how useless I am at analyzing a game whilst watching live.I was screaming at the TV for Santos to hold the LB position and stop thinking he was a fucking forward.Yet on a re-look He came on and vastly increased out attacking options.
    And Rosicky was ten times better than I noticed first time.He is truly a magnificent player.

  177. Oh balls! The wrong scousers won!

  178. George

    I really think Santos has been amazing for us. Never heard of the fucker and maybe he was only signed once Arsene felt Traore wasnt up to the task, but whatever, he is a top top player and a geezer too, judging by his comments about Balotelli.

  179. How sweet that jonjon thinks there cannot possibly be any skullduggery involved in this country. I wish I was so naive. Must be wonderful to have a child like outlook on life! 🙂

  180. Im a staunch supporter of Wenger, and I absolutely love the feel good vibe thats returned to the club following the recent run.But Wenger really has to start thinking like me.
    We need an English CB ,a DM and a striker to cover for RVP .Also we must sign that Hazard lad.
    We could fund this by selling the deadwood ,Arshavin ,Vela ,Diaby,Denilson ,Rosicky and Bendtner.
    And as well we need a change of shape .I think 442.We alsays won stuff with that set up.
    Oh and I forgot ,we need a playmaker as good as Fabregas.And AOC should start every game.

  181. Santos is a major, MAJOR acquisition to the 1st team.

  182. We could use a new goal keeper to George as I really don’t think this Szcezny fella will cut it in the long run.

  183. Limestonegunner

    There’s no sense denying that there is a lot of work to do this summer, however. Finding loans/sales or deciding to keep in the squad players out on loan this season, negotiations or decisions to sell players with one year left, strenghthening where needed or possible and managing all of this with typical fiscal constraints and squad rules. Very complicated with so many factors involved and each aspect influencing other decisions to try to end the summer with strength and balance in the squad and decent pre-season preparation despite Euros and Olympics. Takes a genius–luckily we have one.

  184. Morning everyone!

  185. I hope Arshavin comes back to us this summer. I think we could have done with his magic vs QPR. Next season he won’t be as concerned about playing infrequently as there isnt a Euros/WC to worry about.

    Top player, we definitely should hang onto him.

  186. Yo Paul N!

  187. Who the feck do I want to fin the FA cup now? Such a pisser that the racist half of scouseland won today. Perhaps a chavs win with them finishing 6th?

  188. Yea would like to see AA back at some point. I have to admit to being very disappointed in Chamakh and Park. Between the two of them this year, they have really made me appreciate NB52!

  189. I wouldn’t go that far Irishgray!

  190. Dex, mi bredin! wah gwaan?

  191. Limestone

    Yeah there’s lots to do in the summer, but there’s still plenty to do now! We keep this winning run going and end the season on a high and then we tie down the captain, Theo and Alex. That will be a successful summer for me, any additions will be a brilliant bonus! I think 2 or 3 signings will arrive, but the new contracts are more pressing for me.

  192. Irie Paul!

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