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The Need For Experience

Throughout football history, experience has always been prevalent amongst trophy winning teams. If you were to look back into the past, the best of teams consisted of players who had experienced everything football has had to offer. Be that the ecstasy of winning the FA Cup, or the anguish of losing a World Cup final. It is a rare quality that cannot be compensated for, through other means. As talented as a player can be, experience is something that cannot be taught. Only the successes and failures of ones life, can he be adept enough to make the right decision, the next time he were to come up against a similar obstacle from the past. Such as playing in the Champions League final with 30 minutes left, or being part of a team that has a 10-point lead in the Premier League.

That is only taking into account, the experience that can be gained on the football pitch. There are whole other encounters that need to be successfully negotiated off the field, for one to have the nous of an experienced football player. Ordeals, like the bereavement of a loved one, or the elation of a newborn child can make a player more appreciative and resolute. You might say, how does this affect a player on the pitch? Well its incidents like the above from life on the pitch and off it, that make a player mature and proficient enough to make the correct decision, at the most vital of moments.

So in saying all of this, it is rather worrying that Wenger to an extent, has overlooked such an essential quality. Ideally, a team should have experienced individuals through the core of its team and within its squad, especially if that team is young in other areas. Looking through our roster, I only see Gallas, Silvestre, Toure, and Rosicky as our truly experienced members. People point to the likes of Clichy, Van Persie, Adebayor, Almunia, Sagna and Fabregas as also experienced members. However, do they really belong with the former? Granted, Fabregas and Clichy have had some experience on the pitch, but how many people under 25 in any walk of life, are matured and experienced? Let alone in a profession that pays exorbitant sums of wages to people so young. Fabregas makes a compelling case, and he very well could be part of the former group. Nonetheless, how many from the rest of our team truly belong in this group? How many of our players have been through the highs and lows of football, at a big European club like ourselves? How many players from our team, would you seriously consider asking for advice, as a rich young footballer? It`s the answers to these questions that deeply worry me. Compare that to the experienced players from our previous teams, and its like they were from a different stratosphere. Even as a triumvirate, Fabregas, Gallas and Silvestre, simply cannot compensate for the lack of know how and maturity in the rest of the team, or the lack of sharpness as Wenger might put it.

There have only been a few teams that have achieved success, whilst being relatively young. The Ajax team of 95 won the Champions League and Dutch League, and remained undefeated throughout the entirety of both campaigns. Their team was comprised of stunning young talents like, Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Nwankwo Kanu, Edgar Davids, amongst several others. However it was the experience of the likes of Danny Blind, Frank Rijkaard and Fred Grim that allowed them to flourish on the biggest stage. Similarly, Fergies fledglings had players like Paul Parker, Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and Denis Irwin who kept the youngsters on the straight path to glory.

It`s the old heads that need to be bought, in order for the young players to have someone to learn from, and someone that can give them the advice to return unscathed from a troublesome time. My mind always goes back to Fabregas`s comments about Vieira giving him wise advice, when he was having a poor game. Who will Vela or Ramsey or Denilson go to when they are in a tough situation? Adebayor? Nasri? Fabregas? Whether they have the experience and advice necessary to achieve success, remains to be seen.




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The Journalist

Writer: Shurayh Hafez Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday November 29 2008

Time: 11:36AM

Your Comments

Great piece. Wenger sees talent as the one thing that cannot be bought, which is why he often overlooks Experience. An experienced player brings steadiness. Last year talent took us to the no1 and from there, our campaign self-destructed due to the lack of experience. That in itself was an experience. To win you need a blend of both talent and experience, shame Wenger belittles the second element.
Gael-Force
The irony is that every great Arsenal team has had a strong element of youth or own produced players in it. The '71 double winning side had 8 players that came through the youth system. The '89 side was heavily dependent on a core that included Adams, Rocastle, Thomas & Merson. It isn't a choice between experience and youth it's all about blending those different qualities and skills whether they come from players developed internally or externally. Externally that can include inexperienced players like Vieira just as easily as it can experienced players like Pires.
Amos.
I see what your saying Amos. Although, I'd say that those teams had the correct balance between youth and experience. I don't think we currently have enough experience, to counter all the youngsters we have at the club.
outlaw_member
Some good points here. I prefer to summarise it by saying we need more natural leaders or stewards. Arsene's philosophy is that of a purist - i.e. if you can nurture a collective responsibility without the need for 'stars' you will have all the authority you need. In theory this sounds correct, but I think overall it falls a bit short because attitude gets you close but finally it never quite makes up for lack of experience. The answer is simple and we all know what it is - mix in a few grey hairs and the younger ones will get even better than they are today. I don't have to look far for proof of this - whenever I play football with people who are better than me, I do things I could not ordinarily do.
Andy-bayor
That's generally accepted. But as Wenger said if experience is the key component we would be relegated because every team in the PL has more experience than us. We have lost experience in midfield this season and haven't been able to replace it as yet. We can acquire it organically as Cesc, Denilson, Nasri develop. We might be able to bring experience in but that doesn't come with guarantees either. We are where we are. We have bought old heads like Silvestre and our defense is now easily the most experienced part of the team yet many will argue that our defensive failures have been most costly this season. Experience alone isn't the answer. Team balance is.
Amos.
I agree that it's balance but who said experience alone is the answer? That deflects from the point: it's not that experience is the key, it's more the catalyst. A leader or two are just the final ingredients to make this cake simply stunning!
Andy-bayor
Spot on Andy-bayor
outlaw_member
Which point was I deflecting from? Wenger himself said, pre season, that we could do with one more experienced player in midfield. But that has a to be a player of a specific type and quality. Not simply because he has 'leadership skills' or has played 'at a big European club like ourselves'. Sagna, Eduardo, Hleb are all examples of relevant experience that didn't meet either of these criteria. On the other hand we already have players in the squad that do. Making a generalisation of a specific need doesn't really take us anywhere.
Amos.
Throughout football history, experience has always been prevalent amongst trophy winning teams. If you were to look back into the past, the best of teams consisted of players who had experienced everything football has had to offer. Be that the ecstasy of winning the FA Cup, or the anguish of losing a World Cup final. It is a rare quality that cannot be compensated for, through other means. As talented as a player can be, experience is something that cannot be taught. Only the successes and failures of ones life, can he be adept enough to make the right decision, the next time he were to come up against a similar obstacle from the past. Such as playing in the Champions League final with 30 minutes left, or being part of a team that has a 10-point lead in the Premier League. That is only taking into account, the experience that can be gained on the football pitch. There are whole other encounters that need to be successfully negotiated off the field, for one to have the nous of an experienced football player. Ordeals, like the bereavement of a loved one, or the elation of a newborn child can make a player more appreciative and resolute. You might say, how does this affect a player on the pitch? Well its incidents like the above from life on the pitch and off it, that make a player mature and proficient enough to make the correct decision, at the most vital of moments. So in saying all of this, it is rather worrying that Wenger to an extent, has overlooked such an essential quality. Ideally, a team should have experienced individuals through the core of its team and within its squad, especially if that team is young in other areas. Looking through our roster, I only see Gallas, Silvestre, Toure, and Rosicky as our truly experienced members. People point to the likes of Clichy, Van Persie, Adebayor, Almunia, Sagna and Fabregas as also experienced members. However, do they really belong with the former? Granted, Fabregas and Clichy have had some experience on the pitch, but how many people under 25 in any walk of life, are matured and experienced? Let alone in a profession that pays exorbitant sums of wages to people so young. Fabregas makes a compelling case, and he very well could be part of the former group. Nonetheless, how many from the rest of our team truly belong in this group? How many of our players have been through the highs and lows of football, at a big European club like ourselves? How many players from our team, would you seriously consider asking for advice, as a rich young footballer? It`s the answers to these questions that deeply worry me. Compare that to the experienced players from our previous teams, and its like they were from a different stratosphere. Even as a triumvirate, Fabregas, Gallas and Silvestre, simply cannot compensate for the lack of know how and maturity in the rest of the team, or the lack of sharpness as Wenger might put it. There have only been a few teams that have achieved success, whilst being relatively young. The Ajax team of 95 won the Champions League and Dutch League, and remained undefeated throughout the entirety of both campaigns. Their team was comprised of stunning young talents like, Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, N*****wo Kanu, Edgar Davids, amongst several others. However it was the experience of the likes of Danny Blind, Frank Rijkaard and Fred Grim that allowed them to flourish on the biggest stage. Similarly, Fergies fledglings had players like Paul Parker, Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and Denis Irwin who kept the youngsters on the straight path to glory. It`s the old heads that need to be bought, in order for the young players to have someone to learn from, and someone that can give them the advice to return unscathed from a troublesome time. My mind always goes back to Fabregas`s comments about Vieira giving him wise advice, when he was having a poor game. Who will Vela or Ramsey or Denilson go to when they are in a tough situation? Adebayor? Nasri? Fabregas? Whether they have the experience and advice necessary to achieve success, remains to be seen.
meee93
It has long been apparent to anybody with the cranial capacity equitable to that of a hamster that the English Football Association is constituted of a bunch of lazy, subservient gimps with a messiah complex. If you apply any sort of intelligent thinking to their decisions, you`ll see little more than mealy mouthed platitudes and media friendly bluster. The fact is and always has been that they take their cue from the media with Pavlovian quiescence, if they can get away with sitting on their fat arses and doing nothing, they will. For instance, they have always hid firmly behind the rulebook and pleaded indifference whenever a clearly horrific challenge receives a yellow card, "the referee dealt with it, our hands are tied." (I`m not even sure I understand the logic of this rule other than the fact that it precludes the F.A. from having to do any sort of work). Of course, when the media furore surrounding Ben Thatcher`s despicable elbow on Pedro Mendes reached fever pitch, the F.A. all of a sudden decided that that particular law was not so rigid after all. Thatcher was booked for the challenge, but after a sustained media campaign for the F.A. to do their job, they buckled and gave him a six match ban. Back in 1999 Patrick Vieira caused a media storm by spitting at Neil Ruddock and was given a six match suspension. In May 2000, Mustapha Hadji of Coventry was sent off for spitting at a Derby player and was awarded a one match ban. A fortnight after the mega hyped 'battle of Old Trafford` between Arsenal and United in September 2003, when four Arsenal players were banned for, errr, pushing. (Can anyone show me any footage of a blow being landed in that handbags melee?) West Brom and Fulham brawled, with Neil Clement and Andrew Cole landing a series of punches at one another. No extra punishment was meted out. The size of the media storm informs the severity of the punishment. Today, the F.A. have had absolutely zero compunction about confirming all of the above. Last month, Sheffield United`s Chris Morgan hospitalized Barnsley`s Iain Hume with a pre meditated elbow to the head leaving Hume with a fractured skull and internal bleeding to the head. Since undergoing surgery, which left Hume with an unsightly scar which runs from ear to ear over the top of his cranium, the Barnsley striker had to spend another spell in hospital after complaining of severe dizziness and vomiting. Chris Morgan and Sheffield United are yet to even offer an apology. (Presumably for fear of admitting culpability and facing the accompanying legal music). Morgan was booked for the "challenge", which was precise and measured in my opinion. Hume had even complained to the referee several times in the build up to the incident of Morgan elbowing him persistently. Today, the Football Association have announced that no further action will be taken against Morgan, hiding behind that old familiar "the referee dealt with it at the time" fallacy. Strange how that rule didn`t apply when a comparable incident occurred in the media glare of the Premier League two seasons ago. That the F.A. are prepared to admit that endangering the life of a fellow professional is only worthy of a yellow card is disgusting in itself. But what really rankles is that they are willing to all but admit that their interest in an incident is measured by the size of its media profile. In other words, the health and wellbeing of a Championship footballer is expendable. Not only does that set the moral compass twitching to somewhere close to 'despicable`, but it is yet another example of how the F.A. are in dereliction of duty. Hiding behind their supposed (selective) subservience to FIFA, they actually cannot be bothered to ensure that maliciously elbowing an opponent, to the point that his life is threatened, should be dealt with and punished appropriately. But because this incident attracted little media attention, it has not been worth dealing with in the way the Thatcher incident was. This incongruous approach to discipline and ensuring the health and safety of the players reveals two entirely unforgivable facets of this F.A. 1) That they are inauspiciously idle. Would they really have attracted a lot of ire from the media or their supposed puppet masters FIFA had they taken appropriate action against Morgan? After all, in the wake of Eduardo`s injury (obtained in a televised match by a player playing for the side leading the Premiership table) Sepp Blatter threatened to intervene and extend Martin Taylor`s ban. This is an act borne out of pure laziness. 2) They are 100% informed by the media and trial by media is a dangerous and gloriously undemocratic
meee93
What this author seems to forget with this LONG article is that, we lost the season last game by 1 GAME.
nevidimka
The SQUAD from last season is very different though. We lost experience after the departures of Lehmann, Gilberto, Hleb and Flamini, whilst the only experience we bought was from Silvestre. That is 4 players who would have been able to play at any given time. Only 2 players were bought that are trusted enough to play and that is Silvestre and Nasri. We not only lost numbers but also old heads.
outlaw_member
Lehmann and Gilberto were irrelevant to last season. Hleb and Flamini weren't. But experience grows. Cesc is a more experienced player this season than last, and a European Champion with Spain. Similarly other players have gained and continue to gain experience. We are short in midfield - Wenger admits that himself - and specifically in wide midfield but that is the only area we lack experience at present.
Amos.
I kinda miss Lehman. He was VOCAL and will not hesitate to put his head in an argument. That is what leaders on the pitch should do. We seem to lack that at Arsenal at the moment. had Lehman stayed, he would have been a great candidate for captaincy b4 Cesc.
nevidimka
Amos, I meant that yes - we know that it's BALANCE that matters - but that we shouldnt underestimate how much our lack of experience is unbalancing us. I started to think about what is the definition of experience - is it just having games under your belt? If so then the likes of Silvestre have much experience. I don't think that in itself is enough. Maybe there are qualities that also become more pronounced with experience - an easy example is Patrick Vieira - he had some authority about him and it seemed to develop further as he aged with us. Is it over-simplifiying to say that he had grit which galvanised everyone around him. That's what Flamini (although he not a captain-figure) brought to the field in a way that the more experienced Gilberto could not emulate. Without doing him a disservice it's almost like we would have been too nice with him around last year, however much experience he had. Having said that, I don't think that in our present club the answer is an easy purchase... a squad is an ever-changing and complicated thing and there are intangible things that even a manager can't always predict - like how the dynamic of the team changes (for example I'm sure Wenger along with the rest of us, had no clue Flamini would have been so central last year). In summary we need an expereinced player, yes, but one who is more of a hard-nosed fighter and a tad more rugged than our current youngsters.
Andy-bayor
That's the point I was really trying to uncover Andy. You put it quite well in making the comparison between the vastly more experienced World Cup winner Gilberto and the much less experienced Flamini. It's the qualities of the player we need - not just experience for experience's sake - old heads aren't necessarily the answer. ManU have benefited at times from the experience of Scholes, Neville and Giggs - all players who gained that experience with the one club. Experience of a kind they wouldn't be able to buy in and we are attempting to nurture. It's relevance we need not just what's on a players CV.
Amos.
Lehmann were irrelevant to performances on the pitch, we are under-estimating their impact on the squad as a whole, including off the pitch. Buying experience is not an easy fix, but I'm sure Wenger can find a 26 year old with reasonable experience who fits into our squad. We only need 2-3 players like that to seriously challenge for honours.
prits
arsenals squad lacks leadership. i think wengers plan was to recruit lots of young talented players to form a solid squad, which in theory will have a much stronger bond between them in the long run thus saving money. the arsenal team today already has the quality and if playing well, can beat anyone out there as shown against manU and chelsea. my opinion about this method is its logical and it seems to be working...slightly, but do i think its the way to go? no. the positions they have finished in the league for the last few seasons prove it. this method will take a tremendous amount of time, not to mention the huge amount of pressure on these young talented players and the expectations that come along with such a big club. i believe they need more senior who have the experience in playing at the highest level on a regular basis to lead the team. the team they had back in 2004-2006 was phenomenal, the likes of Bergkamp, Henry, Lehmann and Ljungberg gave the team leadership and experience in knowing how to win titles, having been there and done it themselves. back then arsenal was undoubtedly the more dominant force in the league over the other top four. but since wengers method came into play, arsenal have slowly dropped in shadows of chelsea and manU with liverpool starting to overtake. i can see why wenger bought gallas into the squad for leadership hence giving him the captains armband because of his experience, but clearly it was the wrong choice. when playing bad, theres no one there to grab them by the scruff of the necks to push them to up their game. like some of you have said experience isnt everything, but it definatey plays a major part and is key to every successful team. will it work in a few more years down the line when the players start to mature with one and another and everything start to fall in place? maybe, but its a huge risk not worth taking in my opinion.
chopstah
 

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