The Myth of our Youth Policy
Every season we are sold a tale by the club and the media as to how good our crop of youngsters are. We are told as to immense potential of this group, this group of lads is the envy of team and that they are capable of stepping up to the first team. This last phrase is used as the rationale behind the lack of experienced players being brought in to the club every summer, in other words they will hamper their development.
Once the Carling Cup campaign starts, the media goes into Arsenal-kidmania. Sky Sports will run story after story on these talented players, the press compare our team to that of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United and always concludes that our youngsters are the best. The young players then start to believe this hype and give interviews in which they state that they are ready for the Premier League. Wenger smiles and takes all the plaudits. The fans start believing that we on a magical journey to success.
In reality Ferguson, Benitez and even Scolari give their respective youngsters greater opportunities than Arsene does.
On Saturday we had sitting on the bench Toure, Djourou and Song, all primarily centre-backs, only Ramsey gave Wenger an option in midfield. Where was Randall, Wilshire, or Lansbury (who has been seen less and less of all of our promising players, a very ominous sign a la Bentley). On the same day Manchester United were using Johnny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and Rafael Da Silva. Ferguson knows how to blood young players in slowly, using one or two in “easy” games, bringing players on when the game is won.
Wenger does not know how to use his bench to blood these youngsters. Why chose three defenders for the bench against Aston Villa? Why persist with Denilson who is not coming up to the mark when you have Ramsey sitting around kicking his heels? Why not have Wilshire on the bench, when Nasri or Walcott are flagging bring him on? Why bring Vela along to virtually every game, sing his praises and then play Diaby out of position ahead of Vela? Sagna is out injured, so for the next three weeks Toure will play at right back, whilst Gavin Hoyte will not even get onto the bench and Kerrea Gilbert has been farmed out on loan for the last three seasons in what looks like a way of disposing of the player without giving him a decent opportunity in the first team.
Until Arsene starts have faith in his youngsters, starts to give them premiership opportunities, this “elect” band will go the way of every group of youngsters that we have marvelled at in the Carling Cup in recent years from Jermaine Pennant (we all remember his hat-trick against Southampton) to David Bentley (his wonder goal against Middlesbrough).
If Wenger REALLY believes in these players, then we, as fans, will back his judgment but we must see them play in the Premier League. If on the other if Wenger does not trust them or thinks that they are not ready for this task, then they need to be loaned out for 2-3 years to gain that experience, then Wenger needs to bring in 3-4 players who have experience and are aged over 25 years old..
Wenger and Arsenal football club can’t have it both ways, they are either ready for the premiership or they are not.