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We're growing up fast!

We're growing up fast!

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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Date:Monday January 18 2010
Time: 9:02PM


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.....
18/01/2010 21:13:00
Having a big mouth doesn't make you a big boy cityman! You have to have achieved something first.
18/01/2010 21:46:00
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.
18/01/2010 21:50:00
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!
18/01/2010 21:57:00
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.
18/01/2010 22:02:00
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 :)
18/01/2010 22:10:00
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.
18/01/2010 22:17:00
"You're the Spurs of, you're the Spurs of, you're the Spurs of Manchester, you're the Spurs of Manchester!"
18/01/2010 22:17:00
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.
18/01/2010 22:32:00
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
18/01/2010 22:57:00
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