Worthless Boredom Wood?

Within a space of just a few days, the flame of the youth project flicked just briefly and then fizzled out. So sad! First it was crashing out to Saints in the Mickey Mouse Cup and then to Basel Juniours in the youth version of the CL. With that went the chance to watch our youngsters for another year. Eddie and some other regulars have often expressed the opinion that the youth project is not worth it, while GiE and Total have been discussing the loss to Saints. Perhaps it is time then to organise a full and proper funeral?

It looked very promising two years back when Andy Bonkers had joined in, when youth graduate Gnabry was knocking on the doors of the first team following from The Ox, while Sanogo, Akpom and Zelalem were waiting in the wings. Fast forward to the summer of 2016 and with substantial infrastructure investments and personnel changes in place, there was still considerable discontent. It was reported at one point that Bonkers was leaving, but this turned out to be a false rumour. Henry was under-18s coach but was told he could not continue both a coach and TV pundit, so he left. However, Freddie and Tony are still very much there.

Arsenal staff graphic.jpg

On the progression side, there has been good excitement, with Iwobi and Holding breaking through with credit into the first team, with Reine-Adelaide and Maitland-Niles waiting their opportunities in the wings. All sounded good, except that the juniours then crashed out of two significant competitions within a week. In the UEFA Youth League they had to score at least twice and defeat Basel away. They put in a valiant effort and created several chances, but could only open the scoring around the 80th minute through Nketiah. They they went into all out attack and conceded a last moment goal from a counterattack. There were some significant gains from teh competition, with Mavididi, Nketiah and Keto being the top stars. Not a disgrace, but an exit nevertheless!


Which then brings us to the painful manner of the exit to Saints in the Mickey Mouse Cup. Yesterday, resident tactician-in-chief Gööner-In-Exile wrote: “I think it should also direct us back to the Southampton game where many of our squad players were questioned, amazing how different they look when surrounded by first team regulars … After that game there was a lot of hand wringing here and elsewhere about the quality of our reserves.” Which brings me to the question, if football is about playing one-two-three, and admittedly such Wengerball requires substantial understanding between the players, would we not have been better served by playing our juniours in the Mickey Mouse Cup against the Saints?

Well, we tried that in the past and then Wenger was criticised of disrespect. Damend if you do, damned if you dont! But, given the manner of our loss, would it not have been nice to see for ourselves what the likes of Willock, Bielik, Mavididi, Nketiah, Reine-Adelaide and Maitland-Niles can do as a team? A significant opportunity lost?

Red Arnie

68 Responses to Worthless Boredom Wood?

  1. Red Arnie says:

    Thank you 😊 Peaches

    There was some nice discussion this morning that I could not fully follow or refer to because I was already trying to draft something. Very valuable thoughts, all 😊

  2. GunnerN5 says:

    Thank you Arnie,

    Personally I don’t keep tabs on what is happening with our youth so it’s good to get a well written summation of what has occurred.

    When I lived in Islington I would be at Highbury every week to watch both the 1st and reserve teams and got to know many of the back up players. Those were the days when substitutions were not allowed so there was no need for a bench and therefore there were far fewer players in the overall squad.

    Subs were first allowed in 1965 but only for injured players………….

    I think I’ll stop right there as it might make an interesting post.

  3. Big Raddy says:

    Arnie, thank you.

    That AW played so few of the “kids” is due to the depth in our squad. He has to give playing time to those who are not automatic first teamers. The players struggled in the S’ton game which is no major surprise, sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn’t.

    The draw in Basel is of more concern, especially given the team selected, we should have done better. There were players who have first team experience and others who have big reputations.

    There is a long tradition of Arsenal being a club which developed youth to a high standard, it is one of the reasons so many quality youngsters from the South choose AFC over other London clubs.

    Long may it continue.

  4. Lovely Arnie

    I am a great believer in our youth policy. A lot of people fail to comprehend the importance of a younger understudy, thus failing miserably to name a single Rapper

    Arnie, have you ever seen an Ex bird with a younger better looking version of you? No, of course not, neither have I but believe it or not Arnie many men do. I have noticed a lot of these men tend to come from Grimsby?

    The repercussions are terrible, especially if you come from Grimsby. Self esteem and pride are shattered, so to avoid this the older man has to work harder to keep the bird and make sure Wenger keeps picking him. Why do you think Mustafi or Koscieny are so committed? Without commitment they would be playing for West Ham and getting blown out by some bird who works in Sainsburys.

    The same applies to the workplace. Have you ever been usurped by an academic whos to good looking for University Challenge Arnie? Of course not, but for men who like Bamber Gascoigne, this is common place. I hate to say this, but the emergence of Bellerin means poor old Debuchy will soon be taking a starter for ten, and probably getting them all wrong.

    Yes, we have Wilshere, Iwobi, Bellerin etc,but more importantly we have a structure that keeps more established players on there toes

  5. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Terry,

    Older players trying harder has the knock down effect of making the younger players realize just how committed they will need to be to gain a first team spot so it’s good all round.

    Now I understand why it’s called Grim-sby, 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. Hi GN5

    True, it works both ways. Compared to a lot of the big clubs we should be proud that our club gives youth a chance and produces many pro footballers.

    It’s certainly grim up there GN5. I bet there’s loads of lonely middle aged men this Christmas wishing they had a bird at Christmas and didn’t live in Grimsby. I don’t feel sorry for them, grown men should rejoice in the ecstasy of the desolate and total monopoly of the Remote Control.

    Xmas is for children and happy people. For me it’s the time of year when my thoughts turn to our fellow man and either think thank f*uck I’m not them or if there better off than me, I wish I was like those lucky bastards.

    Cynical? Not at all, just accepting the unsaid reality I’m a horrible selfish git.

  7. Eddie says:

    thank you arnie for the excellent post. I enjoyed reading it, but did not change my mind one single bit.

    By all means, buy young promising players and test them in lesser competitions, but scrap the academy where you pay for players since they are 8 or 9 and end up playing in sunday league. We are a wealthy club that can afford to buy players at 16, 17 and showing signs. We don’t have to cradle snatch babies to save or not as it is more often the case.

    There should be national sports academies (I am sure there are some, but not many). Paid by the government or as Raddy thinks self sustained and getting paid for players going to professional clubs. That would really help local kids; bringing children from Nigeria, Poland or Spain is wrong in my eyes, very wrong.

    I feel better now.

  8. LB says:

    Hi Arnie

    If I have understood this correctly it is being suggested that AW might as well have played more youth players against Southampton?

    If that is the question then my answer would be no.

    To have a good and deep squad at the club you need not only good players you need to be able to juggle that’s to say find a way of keeping players who are not certain starters happy and motivated one of the things that has to happen to make that happen is that the fringe players must be able to get some game time from time to time.

    Southampton provided that opportunity and look at the beneficial effects it had against Basel.

    The EFL cup is not also known as the Mickey Mouse Cup for nothing.

    As for the suggestion of the far younger players being given a chance — bad idea, they would have got thrashed to the point of humiliation and that would not have done their development and self esteem any good at all.

  9. GunnerN5 says:

    Yet another gem from Terry. 🙂 🙂 🙂


    I don’t feel sorry for them, grown men should rejoice in the ecstasy of the desolate and total monopoly of the Remote Control.

  10. LB says:

    Have a look at this, it comes from an Amy Lawrence interview with Iwobi. Notice what they have to say to Ozil when he provides an assist. The mind boggles, does he insist that they all call him My Boss every time or is it just Iwobi?

    “The glow had barely subsided from the goal in Basel when Iwobi was playfully tugged back down to earth by Mesut Özil. It was Arsenal’s master provider who had set him up with an agile reverse pass. “I have to call him ‘my boss’ because he assisted me,” Iwobi explains, chuckling. “Alexis likes to take the mick out of me when I don’t score in training. They are funny.””

  11. Red Arnie says:

    nice comments, trying to follow as much as I can in between travels. at Barcelona now, nice 21 degrees C. 🙂

    Raddy, I would like to take positives from the fact that the juniors drew home and way against PSG. The disaster was the home loss against Basel. Away, they parked the bus and the young good guys failed to break through. Now, where have we heard that before?

    Terry, ha ha ha. One and only unique Terry. 🙂

    GN5. Thank you, in general agreement. 🙂

    Eddie. Interesting. You are saying Barca was wrong in luring kid Messi away from his parents then. hmmm. 🙂

  12. chas says:

    That is a damn fine post, cheers.

    I love the fact that we might be cooking up another Mesut in our own backyard.

    LONG LIVE the Academy and all who sail in her.

  13. chas says:

    That ‘my boss’ thing is superb.

  14. chas says:

    Hey, I’m famous (as fumbunker) with Arsenal history royalty. 🙂


  15. Red Arnie says:

    Interesting view, LB. I am listening. I see both sides of the argument. But having spent a lot of time in junior cricket (not football), I hate it when youngsters are called up for the senior team and then blamed if they do not deliver. That is cricket, but in football, coordination is much more important. So, I see GiE’s point as well. 🙂

    If there was seamless communication between Arsene and Bonkers, Arsene would really not be required to see the young guns in a game situation, in addition to training. Is such a coordination emerging? Who knows? 🙂

  16. Red Arnie says:

    The point about squad depth is well taken. 🙂

    Thanks Chas, I think these are exciting times for Boredom Wood and Coalmine ee. 🙂 Hopefully for the club as well. There is coordinate effort at the Academy level, and if these start paying off soon, we might see big changes in the club. 🙂

    Sad that Thierry had to leave, but on that question of principle, I am very much with the club management.

  17. Red Arnie says:

    The spirit behind the comparison thing is nice, but it can be a big burden on young shoulders.

    Interestingly, the club encouraged this recently by saying: we thought Maitland-Niles was a clone of X but we now think he is more likely a clone of Y. All of this is lighthearted no doubt, but … 🙂

  18. chas says:

    Ohhhhhhh, cosmic.

  19. Eddie says:

    arnie – how can you even question that fact?? Of course they were wrong! Had they not done so, he would have joined Arsenal. arnie, arnie, arnie, I despair sometimes

    No kid should be taken away from his country, school, parents etc under the age of 18. They could have sponsored him, monitor, do their bit without uprooting someone that young. How is that legal? It would not be legal in any other industry

  20. Red Arnie says:

    ha! thats 2 points dropped then. Are we close to relegation? Yet?

  21. Big Raddy says:

    Terry. “Without commitment they would be playing for West Ham and getting blown out by some bird who works in Sainsburys.”


  22. Red Arnie says:

    Thats a fair view, Eddie. Not that I share it fully though! 🙂 Just checking whether you were consistent with it! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  23. Eddie says:

    we are cooking our own Mesut? Are you insane? yes, it is a rhetorical question of course. Who is that?

    I doubt very much we will be on speaking terms in say 5 years time, but I will try very hard to remember today’s dispute.

  24. chas says:

    ‘Might be cooking up’, you fool. 😆

  25. chas says:

    We are only on ‘typing terms’ at the moment.

  26. chas says:

    Today’s ‘dispute’ will be forgotten tomorrow.

  27. Eddie says:

    only on typing terms? next time I am sitting in Jon’s sit I will send you an SMS you ejeet.

    might be cooking, might be fecking not. Next Ozil ha ha ha ha ha. what like fellow with eyes wide apart? Or with Turikish decent? Or with a German passport? What part of Ozil are we trying to replicate in the famous academy of ours?

  28. Eddie says:

    in Jon’s seat

  29. chas says:

    We’re trying to replicate that bit of Ozil that makes you gasp. 🙂

  30. chas says:

    So far, all attempts have failed.
    But we won’t stop trying.

  31. chas says:

  32. Red Arnie says:

    Ha ha ha. Good fun. Fight 😊

  33. Eddie says:

    yeah, you can try! I said that if we are on typing terms in 5 years, make it 35 and you still will not have another Ozil graduating from the academy.

  34. LB says:

    The next Messi is going to have to come from somewhere, if you don’t have an academy you definitely won’t be the the one who finds him; or, as is often said, if you don’t but a ticket you can’t win the lottery.

  35. Our youth system produced someone better than Messi LB. Liam Brady, magical genius.

    Chas, I love your pics and vids man haha

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Arnie,

    You know my view by now. Arsene sent out a team that should have done much better; and I would have preferred a younger, hungry, nothing to lose team, supported by steel in the midfield, with hindsight.

    To install the club’s values and safeguard them going forward, we need an academy, combined with a manager who dares starting young players occasionally. How could we live the club’s values on the field if we only bought matured, ready to play stars? The combo of building our own, buying experienced squad players and one or two top stars every season, is the right one for the club. Long may it continue ⚽️⚽️⚽️

  37. chas says:

  38. GunnerN5 says:

    Just got back from picking up my grandchildren from school, there was about 8″ on snow on the back roads that accumulated in less than 3 hours.

    My dearly departed Dad, who loved the Gunners and rarely missed a game used to say that Brady had a magical left foot – it’s hard for anyone to disagree.

    In my opinion the youth system is the spawning ground for the occasional star of the future and should always be a part of our system. As was pointed out earlier a lot of the cost is subsidised by the sale of those players that do not make the Arsenal grade, so there does not seem to be a valid reason for it’s discontinuation.

  39. Red Arnie says:

    nice day of blogging to fill in the gap. Thanks everyone. 🙂

    Yes, Total, I do know your position. 🙂

  40. VP of Oz says:

    I would have to partly agree with Eddie. No child (under 18) should be taken from family etc. and relocated.
    However an academy should continue for children who live within its region. In this way the club gives back to the community it resides in.
    How fantastic it would be if a poor little kid from the slums of Kensington or Notting Hill was to be given an opportunity to play at the Arsenal Academy and become a future star.

  41. VP of Oz says:

    I’m still thinking about an Academy that only selects poor little kids from North London. If we had done this, we could be fielding a future team of young stars like this –
    McCartney, Ecclestone, Paltrow
    Firth, Branson, Geldof, RIchards
    Dido, Jagger, Rushdie

    and yes the Academy would be guaranteed to be profitable

  42. Gööner In Exile says:

    One thing that is very important to consider in assessing our current youth crop. Up until 2-3 seasons ago no academy player could commute more than an hour each way. Being in London we know how hard the recruiting process must have been. We would be fighting with a lot of other clubs for the best local talent. As a parent of a young player that you think can go all the way do you choose Chavs, West Ham, Spuds, Arsenal, QPR, or the Championship sides. Well I guess the first question is what’s the end game. Has he got more chance of making a name for himself at Arsenal or West Ham come the time he is ready to step up, my guess is a lot of Dads would choose the lesser of the teams on the basis that to break into the first team you have to usurp the man in the shirt, so if you’re a young right back at the club now…..how do you feel about your prospects, if your 10-11 maybe ok, if your 15-16 you may be looking for another club.

    If the academy provides one or two players a season that can step up to the squad and fil boots of now squad regulars who have in turn filled the boots of retiring out of contract players you are doing your job. We had to go and bring in the best talent from overseas to circumvent the 1 hour rule.

    That’s now longer the case and I fully expect more to be produced.

    I’ve always thought the best use of the academy is to provide us a bunch of potential squad players. If a couple of gems emerge even better.

  43. Red Arnie says:

    Motning all.

    Nice points, GiE. 🙂

    VP. ha ha ha. 🙂

    Matchday. will miss the game. sad. 😦

  44. mickydidit89 says:


    Thank you very much. It’s a very interesting topic, and right now, too early in the day for me to get fully engaged

    However, couple brief thoughts. I think it’s important that Arsenal as a huge local business put back in to the community and sports is the natural way to go whether as an academy or merely facilities to encourage active and healthy lifestyles, and keeping children grounded, occupied and out of trouble (in some cases).

    Last brief point, I’m fundamentally against professional sports in any capacity. We hear about the successes, but not the failures and the fallout. Being a professional in the work arena means specializing later in life, whereas in sports, it is so young, and the focus so intense, that the inevitable cull must surely leave many 17/18 year olds slightly scrapheaped.

    Do know how much truth there is in what I say, and I haven’t/won’t look anything up 🙂

  45. mickydidit89 says:

    Ok, morning all

  46. mickydidit89 says:

    Stoke today. Easy peasy three points

    Then Utd Spurs tomorrow. Come on Jose, help us put some fresh air between us and the swamp

  47. Eddie says:

    where were you didit?

  48. Eddie says:

    it is a good point you made micky. It sort of tallies with what I was saying – I am sure many young lives are destroyed or at the very least distorted. I think we need Peaches input on thit – what do academies do for youngsters to ease them into life, especially those who will not become multi millionaires.

    Plus none of us seem to know how many children the academy takes on per year, how many graduate and how many play for us. How much does it cost to have the academy running?

  49. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Eddie & VP. The English have a history of boarding schools, we do not think of it as a sin to send children away from home to be educated.

    Going to Arsenal must be like attending Harrow or Eton for young sportsmen.

    On a seriuos note, we have a game today against The Orcs. PM to write.

  50. Eddie says:

    Raddy – again, I think that boarding schools for very young are evil.And again, I might be completely wrong, as I have no personal experience. But I knew a few men who went to boarding schools, they were great guys, I really enjoyed they company. No signs of psychological damage, on the contrary, great sense of humour

  51. Big Raddy says:

    Eddie. May I say, in the politest way possible and in a tone full of love and respect that you are talking bollocks, especially about the academy 😀

  52. Eddie says:

    bollocks to you too Raddy 🙂

    I have asked you specific questions – enlighten me, because I cannot find answers to the questions I asked. Everybody says I am wrong, but where are the facts???

    The fact is that in the last 5 years we produced Iwobi. I am not counting players poached at 15 from other academies. How much did they spend in the past 5 years? £100mil? For Iwobi.

  53. Big Raddy says:

    Eddie. I cannot be arsed to look up the figures especially as I am writing the PM but …

    Let us guess that the academy costs €1m a year to run (probably much less) There are no player wages, the pitches are part of the AFC training ground – so it is just the wages of the academy staff and in some cases board and lodgings..

    Jack Wilshire is a €20m player. Gibbs €15m. Iwobi ??

    Afobe was sold for €2m. Gnabry €5m. Miquel €2m. Djourou €5m. Mannone €2m. All with sell-ons.

    All academy players.

    Ok ?

  54. chas says:

  55. Here’s my two penneth

    The academy I work for has wonderful people like me who are happy to take young elite sportsmen into their homes to look after on behalf of the club and their parents.

    The Academy is officially 16/17 to 17/18 year olds, almost like a sixth form college. Most of the boys will have come through the age groups at the club and so the club knows them and their families very well. We, the host families, are the unknown and we have to be CRB checked and attend many days of training on safeguarding, first aid, psychology, nutrition etc.

    The talks/training days have always been presented to the boys in one form or another and so we’re able to have discussions about the subject at home.

    The boys have education and the Academy is Ofsted inspected. In addition to the HND they take in Sports Science the club arranges tutors if they want to take any A levels. One of my boys took A level maths and the other is learning to speak Spanish.

    The Academy is expensive to run but pays for itself. It only needs to develop one £2m player to be quids in.

    The boys in the Academy know how incredibly lucky they are but some do go off the rails early on. My two are both fabulous intelligent boys and all the boys I’ve met are similar in nature.

    Arsenal have soccer schools up and down the country and scouts that visit all the Academy games. Without the Academies how would a young talented player get into the game?

  56. Love that Coming Home video chas ……. there are so many spuds I could send it to 😁

  57. mickydidit89 says:

    Back awake again. Interesting to read further thoughts, especially Peaches first hand stuff

    Peaches mentions academy being 16-18 yr olds and that makes me feel much better.

    I was thinking we imported child slaves from abroad aged 8, then, if they were no good, simply flogged them to the highest bidder aged 16.

  58. Big Raddy says:

    There is a New Post

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