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Wenger and Age Concern

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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Date:Thursday August 21 2008
Time: 10:25AM


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.
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!
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!
21/08/2008 11:40:00
Oh well. The ignorants will still ignore and dismiss.
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 :-)
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.
21/08/2008 13:37:00
so does this mean no more DM???
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.
21/08/2008 14:22:00
Alex Song BILLONGS in defensive midfield.
21/08/2008 14:44:00
0 we get Silvestre and Man City get Kompany -
21/08/2008 15:46:00
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