Can Arsenal Run Two Teams?
Arsenal have developed a good conveyor belt of youngsters, from Sidwell, Muamba through to Frimpong, Lansbury. The problem that Arsene faces is how to introduce these players and win trophies.
Arsenal’s successful youth team squad are now all moving up to the Reserve squad, this will cause further pressure on the manager. In the past we have kept players in the Reserves for a couple of seasons, then loaned them out and eventually sold most of the players as we were unable to offer them first team football at the age of 21.
This is a very young age to sell players, especially if they are good enough in the next tow or three years, yet we expect players to be ready at such a young age. The problem is how to keep these players?
The answer is for clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool to be allowed to run nursery clubs. Arsenal for instance could buy Barnet football club. Barnet is a small club with minimal support and in all honesty going nowhere. Arsenal will transfer its Reserve squad to Barnet and not operate a reserve team. The likes of Randall, Merida and Simpson will be able to play for Arsenal B for several seasons, with Wenger decided every season whether they will be promoted to the A squad. The B squad will be run by the Neil Banfield in League Two. They will compete in the Carling Cup, FA Cup and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. This sort of football will be invaluable for the players. Underhill will sell out every game making the operation, whilst not self financing, certainly more profitable than the current reserve team.
This sort of set-up operates in Spain. It allows youngsters early exposure and gives the manager time before he has to decide to sell any of these players. Under this system players like Sidwell, Muamba and Larsson would still be at the club, whilst for the likes of Randall and Simpson the next two seasons would not necessarily decide their destiny at the club.
The small clubs will object to the big teams operating with a second team, but for the Premier teams and even for England, this will allow young English players to play regular football rather than be loaned out and spend several seasons kicking their heels on the bench.
This will be a bold move for football, but no doubt football will not look to be as radical. Instead we will have to face losing several of our youth cup winning team over the next three or four seasons merely because we can’t give them first team football at such an advance stage in their careers.