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Reason To Believe

Reason To Believe

Arsene Wenger is, without question, a pioneer when it comes to developing young footballers. No other manager in the game has the same ability to spot and nurture talent to quite the same extent. You could argue that Ferguson has done the same over the years at Manchester United, and that may have been true in the Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and Neville era, but it certainly is not the case now.

Almunia/ Sagna/ Toure/ Gallas/ Clichy/ Nasri/ Cesc/ Denilson/ Rosicky/ Adebayor/ RVP

That team is arguably our strongest XI for this season; and of that XI only Gallas, Rosicky and possibly Nasri can be classed as having been top class, joining us as well known world players. The rest are all products of the scouting system that Wenger has developed during his time at Arsenal. Players that today would walk into most sides in the world.

Van Der Sar/ Neville/ Ferdinand/ Vidic/ Evra/ Hargeaves/ Carrick/ Ronaldo/ Rooney/ Tevez/Berbatov

In comparison, how many of the current Manchester United team can be classed as having been 'discovered' by Ferguson? Only Gary Neville, every other player has had big money paid out for them, and all of them were global superstars when they arrived.

It's clear that Arsenal and Manchester United have very different policies when it comes to building a team. Manchester United have undeniably more spending power than Arsenal have had over the last few years, and as a result they have been able to build a squad of superstars who will challenge for all competitions this season. Arsenal on the other hand have spent less money on their team than United did on Rooney and Berbatov, and yet are expected to challenge on the same level. By spotting their talent young, and then moulding them into the type of player that they want Arsenal and Wenger have managed to put together a side that is only going to improve with time. Every player in that team, with the exception of Gallas and Rosicky, has yet to hit their peak. Experienced players have slowly been weaned out over the last few years and been replaced by a younger model. Henry with Adebayor, Vieira with Fabregas, Adams with Toure, etc. Any player deemed to be past his prime is cut out of the fold.

The problem is where does this end? The squad has been getting younger and younger every year, and one begins to grow concerned as to when this process will end. How long can we keep going making ourselves younger?

Wenger takes great joy in seeing players that he discovers becoming superstars. Is the joy he takes from discovering a star greater than that he gets from winning the Premiership? Will his pride stop him ever getting a side together that will stay together for some years and grow into something truly special? I don't think it will, but it does seem to be the concern of many Arsenal fans at the moment.

Our current squad is only going to get better. That is a fact. If the current crop of players really want it, and develop as well as they are doing currently I think we will see something very, very special. Not just a few titles and maybe a Champions League, but I think this team could become one of the all time great sides. But only with patience - and faith.

Fans are getting impatient and think that Wenger won't ever let the cycle stop, will continue to replace players with younger ones, until we have a nursery on the pitch. Many are asking for his head if we don't win something this season. Looking for the short term fix if you will. Maybe Alonso was that short term fix on transfer deadline day?

In the short term it does appear that Wenger has allowed his pride to halt the progress of the club...but in the long run it looks as if he's ensured big, big things for this team and our club. If this team is supported and believed in they will produce great football for a long, long time. Although this season may be to early for the team (we'll see if that's the case in 10months) is it worth jeopardising the chance of dominating European football, something that this squad have the chance to do over the next 5-10 years, just for the sake of one title this season?

I think not.

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Date:Wednesday September 3 2008
Time: 3:38PM


The squad isn't really getting younger. The average age is obviously affected by the departure of Lehmann, Gilberto, Hleb and Flamini but there is compensation as the teens of the last year or two move into their 20's. If we can retain them, and in part that depends on achieving some success sooner rather than later, then we will feel the benefits as they mature further.
03/09/2008 16:10:00
Whilst I agree with developing for the long term, I also think that the future is non existent and constantly planning for a team that only exists in an abstract vision of the future is extremely risky. There is nothing wrong with Wenger's vision, but he is surrounded by young footballers and few of them are visionaries like him, youth is impatient and will easily be tricked by the grass is greener ploy. The problem wit visionaries is that at some stage they have to rely on others and therein lies the weak link. I think that at times Wenger is perhaps too focused on a future which may or may not happen, this is what happens when one man expects to build a winning side from scratch with a relatively small budget, develop a youth policy, develop players, play beautiful football and compete against rivals with far deeper pockets and who have managers with one simple agenda - win - Wenger is trying to do the impossible, if he achieves it then in my eyes it will be the greatest achievement ever, but juggling all those factors with something so erratic as youth is as close to impossible as you can get.
Professor Calculus
03/09/2008 16:10:00
It isn't a fact that this team will get better. Wenger had virtually completed the cycle and last year we really looked like something special. Now it's been ripped apart, not all of that is the manager's fault, Hleb and Flamini cases in point. But the refusal to bring in replacements means we are now thrusting junior players into senior positions, which will lead to another couple of seasons adjustment before it all comes to fruition, at which point we will probably lose Denilson to Barcelona, Song to Madrid and Walcott to Milan, not replace them and start over again. I see the points you are making in the article and many of them aren't wrong at all. But the fact is, this article could have been written in 2005 and it wouldn't be far off. I desperately hope another one like this doesn't appear in 2011, because that's my fear. Make no mistake, the transition cycle is starting againFrom where I'm sat, the transition of youngsters is starting all over again when a couple of senior pros to help them along wouldn't have gone amiss. We could have waited for Hoyte to turn into a good right back, we bought Sagna instead. Anyone disagree with that decision?
Little Dutch
03/09/2008 16:10:00
It's not only a question of whether Wenger will let the cycle stop. I'm sure we pay good money. But it's also amazing that Wenger keeps recruiting people like Clichy, Cesc, Kolo, etc. who of course work for money but also for their ambitions, a great footballing education (see Nasri's latest interview from Clairefontaine) and the rare and stylish brand of football we play. Players of this kind are harder to steal for other clubs. But increasingly we're facing the threat of keeping the good players together against the inflationary factors - Bosman, TV money "fattening" so many clubs, foreign ownership. I'm feeling more and more like Arsenal is an exception in terms of how firm (stubborn) our board and manager want to keep running the club the proper way. I'm totally proud of that but I'm getting more worried if we're doing a Don Quixote here.
Lou the Gunneress
03/09/2008 16:14:00
The article could have been written in 2005 LD, that was probably the start of the process but the players written about were 3 years younger then. Van Persie, Fabregas, Djourou, Adebayor, Bendtner, Clichy, Diaby, Eboue all made first team appearances then. Are they not for the most part better players now?
03/09/2008 16:23:00
I remember posting a comment once talking about "SUSTAINABLE" investment on players and got criticised. Sustainable means we are buying due to need and at the same time not jeapordising the future. Say we bought in someone like Silvestre last season, with experience and at reasonable price, we would have gone quite far. Instead, we burnt out Toure and relied on Senderos in CL. In recent seasons, I believe we were only about 10-15 mil away from winning the League or the CL but we never did what was right.
03/09/2008 16:29:00
In fans eyes every team that narrowly misses a trophy is just 1 or 2 players away from doing so. Doubtless if Chelsea had simply spent another £10 or £15m last season they would have won the PL and CL instead of ManU.
03/09/2008 16:36:00
just hope for the best. pray hard.
03/09/2008 16:43:00
So which Arsenal fan is confident that the great young players we have now won't leave the club to go and play for the usual suspects once they have developed and made a name for themselves at Arsenal?
Professor Calculus
03/09/2008 16:56:00
I understand and agree with your statement Amos, but in truth Chelsea spent the money in every position and played the way they wanted. They weren't beat by a weak spot in their team, they were simply beat by a superior team. When you look at the Arsenal I feel it is the exact opposite. On our day with our first XI last year no one could touch us. The football was obviously the best in Europe. But we did have weak spots. Not enough strength in depth and possibly a different CB partnership. We weren't beat by a superior team we were beat by our weaknesses. My concern is I don't feel we've actually remedied our weaknesses. I don't feel it is an issue of just spending another 10-15 million or having one or two more stars - it's an issue of properly using available resources to build the strongest team possible in a sustainable fashion. I hate to sound negative, as I really am not. I know that I am going to enjoy some amazing football and I'll feel the highs and lows. I'm just disappointed because I believed after last year that we were ------><-------- that close to having our finished product with more youth following behind to bring success for years to come. Now I really don't believe we have the strength to push for the PL and CL. Wenger is human and allowed to make mistakes and keep my support. I just hope this season isn't one of his mistakes. Either way I'll still be in the Red and White. (sometimes yellow. and yeah, I even have the much maligned white) ;)
03/09/2008 17:03:00
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