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.