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Give Youth A Chance If It’s Good Enough

Kerrea Gilbert has opined that he will be leaving Arsenal in the New Year, looking for a January move to another Premier League club. Having plied his trade in the lower divisions on various loan deals, it is perhaps hardly surprising that he views his future away from the club.

Such departures are nothing new and with Eboue at the top of the pecking order of reserve right backs, the club is well served by those within and out on loan. There have been murmurings that Gilbert has authority issues, incidents whilst on loan have surfaced to reinforce that perception, rightly or wrongly.

With a young squad, the number of departures in coming seasons will increase. The number of players in the first team is finite and as the average age drops, the previously sought promotion route from the reserves to replace an ageing player diminishes. When competing against players the same, or of similar, age ability becomes king. It is frustrating in the mind of the lesser player, even the most magnanimous will have the belief in their own abilities to the extent that they feel that they are more than adequate for first team duties.

Juggling these resources becomes polarised further with the quota systems envisaged by UEFA and the squad limitations similar to those of the Champions League that the EPL wants to impose. Contract negotiations are increasingly becoming public knowledge as agents seek to pressurise the clubs to compromise, wages closer to those being demanded rather than offered. Such matters are not the entirity of a players decision, first team action is high on their list of priorities as evidenced by Fran Merida.

The cycle of young players coming and going is a by-product of the Academy. Recently, the names of over 100 players who had left the club having come through the youth system was circulated. The majority of those have forged careers elsewhere albeit few in the upper echelons of the game. That suggests that Wenger has by and large shown good judgement in this area. An interesting comparison would be between the big four clubs. Accusations that Wenger does not allow English talent to flourish might just be shown to be wide of the mark.

Tacit admission of that came at the weekend with calls carried in Sunday’s papers for Wenger to become the figurehead of the 2018 World Cup bid, or as it is now described widely doomed 2018 World Cup bid such is the media perception of the impending disaster that is looming. Careful, there is a danger Arsene might be considered an honourary Englishman by various hacks in months or years to come.

The World Cup team could do considerably enhanced by his inclusion. Compared to native managers, Wenger has the advantage of being intelligent and able to string a sentence together without resorting to tired cliches to express football ideas. He has sufficient standing within the world of football to be listened to rather than gladhanding with people who scratch their heads afterwards, wondering who the hell he was. More than anything though, it would give him something to do during the interminably dull international weeks instead of fretting about the state his players will be returned to him in.

’til Tomorrow.

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