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The focus on youth players has been an important part of the clubs policy to cope with restrained finances during the commissioning of the new stadium. Now that these finances are less restrained, even if the manager`s policy is no less prudent, the pressure that young players were supposedly putting on older players to make room for them maybe beginning to turn in on them.

This must be a thought in Merida`s mind as he contemplates his immediate future at Arsenal with the relatively young players in front of him. Wenger has to find a way to maintain a delicate balance between motivating the best of the young players to await their chance while adhering to his policy of allowing the existing squad to grow together. While the current first team is more mature overall than in recent seasons it is still quite young and the majority of first team choices have plenty of growing time in front of them.

The position at left back can serve to illustrate the dilemma. With Gael Clichy as the current designated first pick still under the age of 25 he is backed up by currently injured 20 year old Kieran Gibbs. Yet 3rd choice Armand Traore is the same age while lurking behind him is a 20 year old Brazilian player bought 2 years ago, Pedro Botelho. The highly regarded player hasn`t played a competitive match for Arsenal in all of the time he has been at the club having followed a similar route to Carlos Vela in obtaining a UK work permit while on loan to Salamanca and Celta Vigo in Spain. Botelho`s work permit should be acquired in time for next season. Even though at one point we had all 3 left backs injured, allowing Silvestre to deputise, it isn`t hard to see that at least 2 of these 4 players between the ages of 21 and 25 next season must be considering their chances of regular football at Arsenal over the next few years.

As Merida, a couple of month`s short of his 20th birthday, contemplates his future in a midfield alongside 22 year old Fabregas, 23 year old Diaby, 21 year old Denilson, 22 year old Nasri and 19 year old Ramsey he must wonder how long it can be before Wenger has to look to accommodate others like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas only a few months younger than he is.

Young players, particularly at Arsenal with a reputation for their precocious development, find themselves in the limelight very quickly. This feeds their appetite to continue the same rapid rate of development. Former Ajax legend Johann Cruyff, a club that enjoyed a similar reputation to Arsenal`s at one time, feels that players are encouraged to end their development too soon by stepping up to first team action.

"With the youngsters from Ajax that were coveted by teams outside of Holland, my advice has always been the same: wait until you are at least 21 years old and, if possible, 23," declared the Dutchman claiming that the responsibility of having to perform in a big team can weigh heavily on young players and their careers can stagnate as a consequence. But it is hard to tell players like Merida who has watched Fabregas pick up an FA Cup winners medal as well as a European Tournament medal with the Spanish national side by his 21st birthday that he needs to nurture his talent with patience.

Competition for first team places is a healthy position for the club to be in but the number of young players eager for a place and impatient for first team opportunities, means that we will invariably have to let some very good players go before they have had much chance to prove themselves. Players like Simpson , Randall and Gilbert have probably already reached the point where their best chances of making it here are behind them. At least as new midfield signing 17 year old Bolivian Galindo embarks on his anticipated 2 year loan stint to acquire a work permit he won`t be adding immediately to the task of keeping so many happy.

Unsatisfactory though it must appear in the short term, Wenger`s reluctance to discourage the best of the young talent he has invested in by signing established players can be understood. If players like Merida are to stay he must be shown a clear path to regular first team appearances. At the same time Wenger must have enough confidence in the uncertainty of unproven ability to sacrifice the opportunity to bring in established players.

Transfers are the last resort CEO Gazidis declared last September. Merida and others will need to believe that is still true.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday January 18 2010

Time: 9:02PM

Your Comments

your mummy will pick you up from playschool at noon, and dont go diving you listening go home and let the big boys play to win the trophies.....
Having a big mouth doesn't make you a big boy cityman! You have to have achieved something first.
Its heartening to see Wenger actually use the kids in the 1st team this season, like Eastmond and Merida, in the face of injuries. This was something that he was reluctant to do in the past. Perhaps, Merida can be convinced to stay, but we cant have it all, and some kids will leave every season to be replaced by some other prospect.
Are my eye's deceiving me? Did we just get a Man City fan lecturing us about winning tropheys! The old walk before you can run saying springs to mind. Chimp!
Cityman that's got to be one of the most comical posts ever to hit the Vital network, and we've had infestations from all over the shop. We're primed to go top of the PL, we're in the knockout stages of the Champions League and still in the FA Cup, we've won more trophies than you club can ever hope to win ..... please, save the big talk for someone who hasn't been there and done that.
Let the big boys play to win the trophies PMSL!!! What a feckin joker!! Its been over 40 years since you lot won anything of note and you sit 8 points behind us in the league cityman. T*ttenham of the north, the mouthy little fella with an inferiority complex a mile wide. Go grovel at your saviours' sandals some more :)
Obviously with amount of youth team players we nurture some will be moved on and as long as we are getting nigh on 10m for the likes of David Bentley its happy days :) Cityman your club is the Fatima Whitbread of Big boys, toddle off back to your council owned stadium and on your way pick up a bottle of lucozade for poor Robinho.....seems he ran out of puff after 50 minutes the other day.
"You're the Spurs of, you're the Spurs of, you're the Spurs of Manchester, you're the Spurs of Manchester!"
Its been reported that the City trophy cabinet was burgled and ALL the contents stolen...........Manchester Police are looking for a man with a light BLUE rug.
Cream of the crop will rise to the top. Yes, good young players will go, but so long as we keep the players that are better, so what? I don't get it, this is a sports institution not a cradle for egos. Darwinism baby!
Little Dutch
Agree, completely. As they say, if you can't stand the heat (competition, feel free to), leave the kitchen.
The survival of the fittest - that has to be right LD. The strongest will survive but we need to be able to keep those in the nest that aren't yet but will become the strongest. It's far and away the better problem to have but one that has to be managed as best it can.
LOL at Cityman, Birmingham City look more like to win silverware than Man City at the moment
Ozi Gooner
Amos you have a point, but isn't it a good point?? To have that many players under the age of 22 that ARE good enough for the first team? Surely competition for places is healthy for the overall team. I think players like Toure and Ady...whats his name became complacent. Even Fabregas has come out and said he is looking over his shoulder at Ramsey! I do see your point, but I would much rather be in this position then say Chelski.....yes you have a fantastic team (before they jump all over me) a team full of 30 somethings, and I don't see much behind them. Once upon a time they could get away with it by just buying a ready made team for the new season, but with the economics in football now, I don't think that is possible anymore. Your right, its obvious that along the way there will be players too inpatient to fight for there place. But as in the past these players take wengers guidance for granted and rarely move on to greatness. I think that in itself shows how great this manager is at nurturing talent. Can you imagine how good Anelka would REALLY be if he had stayed with us for at least another 5 or 6 years under the guidance of Le that is frightening!
Totally agree with Amos.
Whether you like it or not, its just a matter of time before City and Spurs take over from their bitter derby rivals.
hodfound...zzz, can I borrow your crystal ball for a week? I feel like bankrupting a few betting firms over the weekend.
Merida needs to stay calm. He's good enough to make it at Arsenal and could be for us what one Jose Antonio Reyes promised to be before his unfortunate demise. Arshavin will leave either this summer or the next, a strong feeling I get from him. Merida can own the left if he stays patient and continues to work hard. The one problem I have though is I've never seen a player sign a new contract once they fail to do so beyond January in their final year. Sadly I think he going to leave on a free.
Bentleyitism ^^
hodfoundeileendrewerywithapass.......I see you are carrying on the traditions passed down to you through your forefathers. Predictions of the spuds passing us are now the stuff of legend on our are now a full member of the millennium bug club, congratulations.
It is a matter of time Hod, just not any of our lifetimes, that's all.
Little Dutch
How about a cheeky bid for Robinho?
NI Gooner
A Cheeky bid for Robinho would be great, think he'd do well here and be good to get one over on City. As for the Youth players, i think if there good enough play them.
NI Gooner, Robinho's mind does'nt seem to be on football currently - his performances in the last 20-30 games have been diabolical. It does'nt seem to be just a problem with his manager, after all if he had a problem with Hughes, he should have recovered his motivation if not form now. Robinho is on 200,000 quid a week and he would have to take a more than 50% hit to join us besides us shelling out a minimum of 20 million quid. Cant see it. Right now he is just not worth it.
deltaforce, my crystal ball predicts that Wenger is at the fag end of his Dubaibury career.When the Frenchman goes, you can be sure that most of the foreign legion of mercenaries that play for you will follow him...... you can guess the rest. Little Dutch,I don't know about you, but this will certainly happen in my lifetime.
Oh, it will "certainly" happen, oh well I'm very much mistaken. Your mystic powers have convinced me, when can we expect this sudden overhaul? It's just, much like the loonies that wear sandwich boards on street corners, predicting the world's end, you've been promising it for 15 years now and it just doesn't ever seem to happen. Tell me Miss Drewery, when will it happen? Before or after Droopy goes to bird?
Little Dutch
Apology accepted Little Dutch.
Even without his username his posts alone mark hodfoundgodtakesthep*ss as a spud. Totally detached from reality. It's the only way they can get through the seasons though.
Back on point. As LD said the best will break thorugh and if we continue to sell the others for a profit with good sell on clauses then the acadamy essentially pays for itself.
hodfound, in the alternate world that you live in are Sp*rs the league champions and Robbie Keane the finger pointing chav the golden boot winner? Thought so. Please lay off the glue.
deltaforce, in your world are Arsenal?
Not yet, but in the real world we're above the Spuds and have been since I got my first pubes.
Little Dutch
hodfound, in the last 12 years Arsenal have indeed won the league thrice with Henry the golden boot on two of those occasions. See the difference between day dreaming and reality?
deltaforce, what have you won lately?
Only a spud could believe he has any chance of winning a willy waving contest here. What have we won lately? Depends on what you mean by lately. Spuds haven't won a title in half a century - is that lately? No European triumph in more than 25 years - maybe that's lately? FA Cup almost 20 years ago - lately? Arsenal is the only club to win a trophy in each of the last 9 successive decades. We'll make that 10 lately enough. And in the meantime we'll continue to celebrate St. Totteringhams Day as we have done continuously lately.
Put your willy away Amos, I play with a straight bat!
Play with whatever you like hodblahblahblah - but you're clearly deluded. It'll be all those years of grinding mediocrity and unrelenting humiliation heaped upon you. Still maybe next year eh ? When the year ends in one?
hodfound, what Amos said.
Deep down you all know your club has been has been on a gradual decline for quite a while now. If that makes me deluded, I plead guilty your honour.
It does make you deluded, or rather just confirms that you are already deluded. No need for a guilty plea though one of insanity has already been entered for you on the basis that you're a spud. Gradual decline since when? Unbeaten season? Who has bettered it? New stadium, record revenues, most financially stable club in the PL, team competing in all major competitions. Decline is failing to win a major trophy in 20 years or a title in half a century. Routinely sacking your manager every season or so just to avoid relegation or make the top half of the table. Having to buy back players at twice the price you sold them for. If we're in decline how you'd love to have just a taste of that decline!
hod, you really do live in another world! Good luck coming back to Earth some time. Lets speak again on St. Totteringham's day.
The Arsenal boys doth protest too much! Adieu!
Hod, you must be the pride of your folks, irrepressibly making such a monkey of yourself and appearing to enjoy it. Now, I know most Spuddies need help, but you are a dead ringer for the nut house.
We can seeeee you, we can seeeee you, we can see you sneaking ooooout!!! Tail between your legs as usual.
Now that's deluded.
I knew you'd bite on that! Not like you lot to hang around too long. Most of you had disappeared by half time at the Emirates. Tail between your legs. :)
We also disappeared in the 4-4 draw. Tail between your legs!
Ha!! Celebrating a draw eh!!! Typically Spud!! Almost as exciting for you as your triumph in the first 42 minutes at the Emirates this season. No point you trawling over too much history - you've been losers for far too long to find any comfort there. Tail stuck permanently between your legs for so many decades.
Interesting Amos, your posts contain alot of willy waving and tails between legs. Are you trying to tell us something?
Can't find a response then? Not surprising. Who can blame you. Not much for you to gain talking about your footballing pedigree against ours. Best sidestep that one. When d'ya think St.Totteringhams Day will fall this season?
I responded to your post. What were you expecting after a rant like that. Scrolling back up I notice in an earlier post I said your club has been in gradual decline. When in fact I meant your TEAM has been in gradual decline. Needless to say I'm hoping for the latter too.
What rant? What was I expecting? A little coherence maybe but you're just flailing around desperately trying to find something worth saying. You haven't succeeded so far so I guess the prospects aren't good for you doing so now. You can't justify the gradual decline because since the low spot in the 05-06 season the team has improved. Finances have also improved with the new stadium so team building prospects will also improve. But what am I doing trying to talk some sense to you? Let's get back to what this is really all about - when do you think St.Totteringhams Day will fall this season?
See how low your expectations have dropped? Reduced to bragging about a so called St Tottenhams Day instead of trophies.
Check this out hodfoundaroduphisass...... the description of a bland open space lol, that will be a wasteland apart from on matchdays ha ha (pretty sure they meant especially on matchdays though)
Yet another rude gooner! Was it something I said?
No just the tedious flatulent way you spout it hodfoundaroduphisass
Just because you currently tenuously inhabit your precious fabled (yet always unattainable) 4th place, doesn't mean any one here cares to here your overconfident dribbling and yawn inducing predictions of our imminent doom. We battered the living smegma out of your scaly inbred fanny merchants 3-0 or have you forgotten Fab waltzing through your statuesque 'defence' already? Yeah course you have it's just been locked away in the hurt locker with all the other horror stories you have suffered at the hands of Arsenal over the years. If we are in decline what the hell does that say about your muppets sitting 7 points behind us led by master criminal Twitchy Taxslap?
Well it seemed rude to brag about trophies but if you insist - how about 11 more titles than you for starters? What about being the only London side to win the title at WHL? - more than once too! FA Cups? Head-to-heads? No - it seems much more polite not to embarrass you more than you are yourself - as you are a guest and all. So - when do you think St.Totteringhams Day will fall this season?
I fuggin despise that mullet sporting, god bothering, disabled hating, Drewery humping, W*A*N*K*E*R too. ***** him and his life partner Waddle.
Aren't you ashamed that we've won the league more times than you at your own ground hodfoundrod&toduphisass??
You've certainly got to be an oddball to be carrying a torch for a prat like Hoddle. With a similarly tenuous grip on reality it seems.
Who's arguing about most trophies or the better team. I'm arguing that my team has been progressing while yours has been declining these last few years. And, that when Mr Wenger leaves, the gap between us will diminish significantly. I'm arguing Spurs fans have a positive outlook for the future whereas you must be very worried about a Wengerless future. Goodnight Im off to bed with my tail nowhere near my legs.
Off to bang one out over your 5-1 DVD again is it? Take note sp*rs desperate grubby merchandise team - THIS is worth putting on a mug
The odds must be on Twitchy leaving the Spuds, possibly in handcuffs, before the more youthful Wenger leaves us. Of course Spuds are improving in this season - they've struggled to make mid table for the last 2 seasons but your greatest aspiration is to reach our minimum achievement. Spuds don't have a positive outlook just a deluded one.
Everybody! na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!
If you fancy coming back for a cuppa, settle down here: we need a new pet since Griddo mysteriously vanished in to a fog of humiliation.

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