If You know Your History Pt.1. Youth Policy?

March 20, 2012

We have talked the Youth Policy completely to death ….. or have we?

To people of my generation the Youth Policy was the only way to establish a top team. Have a look at the FA Youth Cup winning team of 1966: Peter Simpson, Jon Sammels, George Armstrong, Peter Storey, Ray Kennedy, Sammy Nelson, Pat Rice and John Radford were all in the team, and all went on to have fine careers at AFC. – 5 years later they won the Double under Bertie Mee. 8 players made the leap into the first team!

Our 1987 FA Youth Cup winning team was not so fortunate with only Kevin Campbell making a successful jump to fame, though the team did include David Hillier and Steven Morrow who went on to be first team players (in the worst AFC team I have seen).

Of our 1994 winning team only Stephen Hughes made the first team.

The 2000 & 2001 winning team had a little more luck with Alladiere,  Stephen Sidwell, Moris Volz, Jermaine Pennant and Justin Hoyte becoming PL players though none made the grade at THOF.

We won the cup again in 2009. Can this group achieve success? In the team were Frimpong, Bartley, Coquelin, Lansbury and Jack Wilshere. LJW seems assured a bright future at Arsenal but the prospects hang in the balance for the others. The influx of ready made stars severely curtailing their chances.

So what is a successful youth policy? Is it enough that Wilshere has come through the ranks? Should AFC sell him he will attract the kind of fee which makes the youth team economically worthwhile (as did the sale of Cesc). Liam Brady is not only bringing through fine players, he is also creating a handsome income stream.

Arsenal generate a huge amount of money and perhaps, like the rest of the top 6 ,we should rely entirely on mercenaries. Looking at our rivals, how many have home grown players?

MU  Cleverley, Welbeck and … erm (let’s discount the wrinkles)

Chelsea … Josh Mcreachran (and JT)

MC …. Micah Richards

Liverpool … the 32 y.o Gerrard and the 34 y.o Carragher – young players, none.

Spurs …..  none, that’s right – zip!

What does that tell us? Well, one thing is obvious – there is a huge gap in skills between the Youth and the first teams in the PL. Furthermore, clubs are unwilling to take the punt on players developing over time in the PL; we cherry pick our kids from the youth academies all around Europe and still do not let them get a run of games  – unless they come to us from Southampton. Our rivals do not have any interest in developing kids – Chelsea’s lack of kids is a terrible indictment.

Will Financial FairPlay make a difference and force teams to focus upon youth development? It would be great but I have a feeling FFP will be just another money earner for bean counters (sorry to you bean counters!)

Sadly, the days of picking up great players like Charlie George and Pat Rice from the Holloway Road are long gone, the Youth team of ’66 are a distant memory. We should be grateful to Arsène Wenger and Arsenal that they continue to pour money and time into one of Europe’s finest Youth projects.

Let us hope that the 2009 FA Youth Cup Winners take us to another Double in 5 years.


Written by Big Raddy

Great News

Most will have heard by now that Fabrice Muamba is conscious, able to speak and is surrounded by his family. He is still seriously ill but on the long road to recovery. We wish Fabrice and all our friends on AA who are suffering problems at present a speedy return to full health.


What now for Project Youth?

June 22, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

Some time ago I wrote an article slightly jokingly about the vines that Arsene had planted and how we were now seeing them produce some wonderful fruits. A few months on and with another trophyless season under the belt there is a serious question to be asked.

I am not talking about the current squad, they are mostly at an age where they should be delivering on the Premier League stage week in week out (except for Little Jack and Rambo who are still learning their trade).

I am concerned mainly with the youngsters out on loan or kicking their heels in the reserves last season the remnants of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 2008-09.

The players starting both legs were as follows:

  • James Shea
  • Craig Eastmond
  • Thomas Cruise
  • Kyle Bartley
  • Luke Ayling
  • Henri Lansbury
  • Francis Coquelin
  • Gilles Sunu
  • Jack Wilshere
  • Jay Emmanuel – Thomas

Emmanuel Frimpong started the first leg but was replaced by Sanchez Watt after an early injury. Sanchez Watt started the second game.

Of that group of players at least seven impressed me enough to think they may have a future at the club…..Bartley, Wilshere, Lansbury, Coquelin, Sunu, JET, and Watt. I didn’t get to see enough of Frimpong due to his injury. All are 20 except Wilshere and Frimpong both 19.

Only Wilshere so far has forced himself into a regular starting berth, Watt spent the end of last season on loan at Leeds, Emmanuel-Thomas at Cardiff, Lansbury at Norwich, Bartley at Sheffield United and Rangers whilst Sunu and Coquelin were at L’Orient. Frimpong had to make do with a season on the treatment table as a result of the knee injury picked up in pre season.

On top of these lads there are now another bunch of youngsters pushing though, headed up by Afobe, Aneke, Murphy and Henderson.

The majority of these lads have a love of Arsenal they have been raised here since young, the club is in their blood, the lack of this is one of the most common complaints about the current squad. A Tweet from Frimpong recently proclaimed

“I will never leave Arsenal even if I get released I will beg on both knees to stay they gonna have to escort me.”

Additionally they have all been brought up on the Wengerball philosophy, the kind of ball control and ability to pass so absent from the recent England Under 21’s they could slot in to most positions on the pitch if required.

However if Wenger fields these players I am sure the same detractors would also complain that they are not experienced enough.

The other thing you frequently hear is we don’t have enough winners, well this lot have done it:

Three questions remain:

Are these boys good enough for senior level?

Will Wenger give them a chance?

Will the fans accept it if he does?

If as expected we see some of the squad players moved on this year we should expect the vacated positions to be filled by these youngsters, they must be given a chance to play (Carling Cup and possibly the FA Cup). They need Premier League experience too how many of our players who have been loaned to lower league sides have actually improved as a result?

In turn when they are on the pitch they must be fully supported by all in the ground, no groans, no moans, these are young lads they are our future, they are The Arsenal.

For those who didn’t see it here are the first leg highlights of that teams success.


“The catalyst the playmaker once again Jack Wilshere” thats a phrase we will hear for many more years I am certain, but what about the rest, what do we do with so many youngsters?