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Wenger and Age Concern

The signing of Mikael Silvestre has reopened a frequently misquoted debate about Wenger`s approach towards players over 30. More than one reference to an apparent disparity in the treatment of Pires and Silvestre has been used on different sites with claims of inconsistent approach. It`s a misunderstood policy that would benefit from clarification.

Firstly, the age at which Wenger, supported by other independent research, believes athletic prowess begins to decline at an accelerating rate is 32 not 30. It is when a player reaches 32 that Wenger takes age into consideration in awarding new contracts and not 30 as some will state. In order to meet the physical demands of football at this level the older player has to put more effort into maintaining a level to compete with younger players as natural changes in cardiac rate, running style and muscle fibre all affect performance. With this in mind Wenger offers players contracts that will usually expire at the end of season in which the player reaches his 32nd birthday. Thereafter he will require players to prove their fitness and willingness to work to maintain those levels on an annual basis. Such was his commitment to do this that Dennis Bergkamp was offered and accepted a succession of one year contracts from the age of 32 until he retired at the age of 37.

Thierry Henry`s last contract with Arsenal would have expired in 2010 a few months short of his 33rd birthday had he completed it. Gilberto would have been 5 months short of his 33rd birthday when his contract was due to end. Robert Pires was at exactly the same point as Gilberto would have been when his contract expired and he was offered, but declined, a one year extension.

William Gallas signed a four year contract 2 years ago and so has 2 years left which expires a few months short of his 33rd birthday. He and Silvestre are, but for a few days, exactly the same age which means that Silvestre`s 2 year contract will expire at the same time as Gallas. Both will be just two months older than Pires was when his final contract ended.

This attitude to age is partly dependent on the demands of playing position. While Jens Lehmann was offered his first contract at the age of 33 and stayed for 5 years midfielders and forwards have to work much harder than keepers. Wenger maybe a little more relaxed about the age of centre backs providing they can prove their fitness having said recently It`s not so much about how far you run, but about how many mistakes you make. The intelligent players learn from their mistakes, and cut them out of their game, the older they get. That`s why the best years for a centre back are between 28 and 34.

When Gallas` and Silvestre`s contracts expire Toure will be 29, Senderos 25 and Djourou still only 23.

Rather than demonstrating inconsistency, the signing of Mikael Silvestre is the very model of a consistent approach to player age and their contracts.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 21 2008

Time: 10:25AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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If we get 2 good years from him, and Djourou continues to develop, they should overlap quite nicely! I think it could mean the end for Big Phil though.
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21/08/2008 10:59:00

why? big phil will be approaching 26... is thta too old for a defender? thot the article suggests that this is when they are reaching their prime. If Sendy is patient then i think this is the stop gap signing that takes the pressure off and he can work on his weaknesses while coming of age!
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21/08/2008 11:39:00

Amos thanks for that by the way... I think that did need clearing up cos if there is anything AW can be accused of, it is being consistent to the point of being stubborn!
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21/08/2008 11:40:00

Oh well. The ignorants will still ignore and dismiss.
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21/08/2008 11:41:00

Defintitely a position thing - after all didn't Arsene squeeze more years out of the the Adams/Dixon/Keown backline... average age around 36 or so! My only concern (having seen next to nothing of him), is what this guy is made of. More like sage concern than age concern :-)
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21/08/2008 12:29:00

Everyone will continue to moan "well Pires didn't get a contract extension" conviniently forgetting he was 33 at the time, the same as Silvestre will be. But people will believe only what they want to believe and see only what they want to see, sad, pathetic but true! Silvestre will be a good addition to the team without affecting the long term development of any players in similar positions as the ones he will cover.
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21/08/2008 13:37:00

so does this mean no more DM???
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21/08/2008 13:55:00

The more I think about this, the more it seems like a good addition. As long as he stays fit, he's a proven, experienced Premiership player that - lets face it - is a winner. That's no bad thing to have in our backline. Him and Gallas would have won 6 PL titles between them. Also, Clichy will definitely need a breather no and again the way he plays the game. We're fine going forward, we just need a top-notch midfielder now and we'll have a squad to challenge.
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21/08/2008 14:22:00

Alex Song BILLONGS in defensive midfield.
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21/08/2008 14:44:00 we get Silvestre and Man City get Kompany -
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21/08/2008 15:46:00

Dont know if i'm too pleased with this news anymore.
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21/08/2008 15:50:00

Looks like Kompany was Man City's 2nd choice then!
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21/08/2008 15:59:00

Thanks for that info Amos. I'm the first to admit I've only been a fan for a few years now so it is good to see some of the truth shine through the ideas we as fans build up on our own.
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21/08/2008 16:55:00

Traore to for him...good place to go too.--
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21/08/2008 17:04:00

I'm sure Wenger and his team evaluate every player on a case by case basis. Pires' continual decline since leaving Arsenal for Villareal shows he was right in only offering a one year deal. Bergkamp proved that if you've still got it, you'll still get a contract.
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21/08/2008 17:26:00

Phew! Arsene drops a hint: "there still might be one more coming in"! Our new DM!!!! :D,19528,11661_4026243,00.html
Lou the Gunneress
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21/08/2008 19:24:00

Lou, don't you love AW's coyness with the media? He loves playing games with them. He makes me laugh when he gets like this (tho I know some of the D&G gooners find him irritating).
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21/08/2008 19:53:00

That's part of his job, an entertaining (for me) part! ;)
Lou the Gunneress
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21/08/2008 20:02:00

I really am begining to fear the worst, arsene MUST have a huge Defensive Midfielder up his sleeve, We steal Silvestre from under Man City's nose and there back up signing is Vincent Kompany ... I no which player id prefer to have in my squad and it certainly isnt Mikeale *****vestra! we must bring in a big signing to fill in that central defensive role!
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21/08/2008 20:12:00

or what? we don't bother playing this season? Gallas and Toure may not be breathtaking in their dominance but if I remember correctly we didn't get eliminated from any competitions because of that partnership. Gooners need to accept it, Wenger isn't going to splash the cash on a big name central defender.
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21/08/2008 20:18:00

And now I'll apologize since I've gone back and reread your post. You were referring to our DM need and I thought you were talking about the CD spot. Sorry about that. To your point though, I don't really care if it is a big name as long as it is a player big enough to help lift some trophies.
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21/08/2008 20:20:00

Arsene in June, "we won't be signing any defenders." More fool anyone that believes what he says about transfers.
Little Dutch
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21/08/2008 20:21:00

I believe this one, I do. How can we not strengthen in the DM position?! Arsene must know.
Lou the Gunneress
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21/08/2008 20:29:00

I'm certain he will, I've always been certain he will. I was picking up more on jaelle's point. But the DM should have been signed a long time ago.
Little Dutch
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21/08/2008 20:36:00

I've also always been confident about this - like I said, how can we not buy someone there? And yeah I guess.. I still don't know why he's leaving it late just to save half a million or whatever it is.. Can imagine why more and more gooners are getting impatient and irritated. I'm actually surprised I'm still pretty calm aobut it.
Lou the Gunneress
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21/08/2008 20:45:00

LD, I don't think he was planning to buy any more defenders, having allegedly had a bid turned down for Zarate, he probably thought he couldn't get the right player for the right price. But when Sylvestre became available at that price, he took advantage of the situation as this seems to have been a last minute signing. Whether this purchase changes his mind about another midfielder, I doubt it.
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21/08/2008 20:54:00

It would seem that Man City's preference was for Silvestre above Kompany as he was the one they were going for first. I think Passenal is right the opportunity wasn't there in June and maybe with Senderos injured, Toure with a hip problem and the sale of Hoyte all that Wenger did was change his mind as the circumstances changed.
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21/08/2008 21:05:00

I'm certain this was an opportunist signing, or else why would he have been driving to Manchester City for a medical? But it does show that if he can sign someone, he will. If he felt he could get a decent striker at a good price tomorrow, I'm sure he would, even though it's a position on the pitch I consider us very strong. That will always be his philosophy and it's a sound one. Anything else he says about transfers is likely to be subterfuge and hot air.
Little Dutch
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21/08/2008 21:08:00

I understand the logic behind the signing even if initially i couldn't stand his long association with MU. However if he scores a couple of goals for us against MU, all is forgiven :-). I'm fickle like that.
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22/08/2008 00:10:00

Great news. I just went to the Arsenal website and apparently Silvestre has a little muscular problem. The man has hardly played last season. How did he get injured? Makes me wonder if it's the same muscular injury that was meant to keep Rosicky out for 3 weeks? fergie sold us a crocked player.
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22/08/2008 00:13:00

good thing that silvestre isn't going to play a game for us soon, cos he still has a bit of 'manc' in him.
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22/08/2008 01:38:00

Its a good point to raise Amos. I've also heard the constant whinging about Pires and the parallels raised to this situation and its annoying coz the facts are ignored. Wenger is extremely consistent (even to the point of extreme stubbornness on certain things). I think Silvestre is a decent signing and fits in with his policy overall.
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22/08/2008 05:52:00

i still think AW is going to rely on Song, Denilson or Diaby (maybe Bischoff also) to fill in the DM position. Song is probably going to be the most successful in the role. A midfield of Song, Cesc, Rosicky, Nasri sounds pretty good to me.
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22/08/2008 08:49:00

Why the hell is everyone raving about Kompany, he has gone backwards in form and value since he was 20, the last 2 years he has been poor. Also would he sign knowing he would possibly be second choice? Too many people play Championship Manager thinkg they know it all. Kompany is joining Man City for around £6 million, WOW he must be fu**ing amazing to go for so much money.............
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22/08/2008 09:08:00

Oh yea a little surprised Wenger offered a player over 30 a TWO YEAR contract!
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22/08/2008 20:32:00


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