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A United fan's Age Concern

An outsider`s view of the club which seeks to provide constructive observation, such as the one below from a Vital ManU member tuscan3000, can be worth wider contemplation. ManU fans may feel they are still getting good service from players like Giggs (36) Scholes (35) and Neville (35) while we have allowed players like Pires (currently 36) and Gilberto (33) to depart. We have re-recruited 35 year old Campbell for a short spell so far to balance that though. Not sure how well the suggestion that we should be worried about the potential departures of Silvestre and Almunia in particular might be received by some here:

"I think all this Arsenal team needs now is to be bolstered by experienced, even-headed professionals. The facts are no team can have as many young players as you do and expect consistent performances over four competitions for the whole season. Young players will always have the odd off game. You look at Chelsea, United and Liverpool teams that have finished above you in the last few years and you'll see clubs that either don`t have any young players at all or are using them less and less often.

As a United fan I'm genuinely worried that some of the talented youngsters in our club will never see the light of day in a United shirt because we simply cannot afford to compete with Chelsea whilst suffering the inevitable mistakes young players make. Consistency is the key to the league and young players simply don`t have it. Luckily the 25 man squad should change this and even the playing field a little. Also, young players will always take defeat badly. Whether it`s being too down on themselves, blaming each other or refusing to accept any responsibility and blaming everyone else - young players just cannot handle losing properly as that comes with age.

Having older players around the camp helps turn these young boys into men by teaching them how to accept responsibility for their own failings and how to pick themselves up and keep fighting. There is also a lot of what I like to call 'old boy' tricks that your club is missing out on. Experienced old pros always have sneaky little techniques for wasting time, influencing a ref or putting the opposition off. These marginal actions can be the difference between winning and losing a lot of the time. The old boys will always keep the younger ones in line and generally stop them acting like over paid prima donnas both on and off the pitch.

I know its silly season in the press but the constant rumours surrounding Gallas, Campbell, Silvestre, Almunia and Arshavin moving on would be worrying to me. Whilst you obviously want to improve in some areas getting rid of that much experience in one season would surely only make the problems worse. I think if Wenger raises the average age of your squad you will definitely win silverware next season."

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The Journalist

Writer: Tuscan3000 with Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday May 13 2010

Time: 10:07AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
tuscan is absolutely spot-on! Excellent post. Only thing to disagree with is that neither Almunia nor Silvestre provide the kind of guidance and leadership our kids need. I've never understood Arsene's belief that you can develop and mature young players with no older heads to guide them on the pitch - to help discipline them, calm them down, help them to focus when they can't handle a particular problem. So many times I saw Adams, Keown, Seaman, Parlour, Vieira, et al. fight for each other, back each other up when the opposition had targeted one of them, helped a young player to calm down, barrack them if needed. I remember a couple of times Sherringham deliberately elbowing one of our players and Adams or Keown would set their sights on retaliation to set him straight, taking a yellow card for the team. We stood up for ourselves and let opponents know they couldn't mess with us. Except for a couple of players, I don't see that attitude anywhere in this new team of Arsene's. It's no accident, I think, that the 2 strongest personalities we have (Cesc and RVP) played with and learned from older, experienced players who'd won trophies. The other such personality we have of course is Campbell. It's instructive to listen to Arsene's praise of Campbell's fighting spirit and commitment this season. What struck me is how he said it, as if Campbell's attitude had struck him so deeply as to markedly differ with the attitude of our other players - the contrast was so stark. This is why the Bburn game was so farcical--our old English back 5 or Jens/Campbell/Lauren/Vieira would've known how to deal with Allardyce's tactics in our box. Whereas our current keepers and their teammates just let themselves be intimidated and outmuscled. Our opponents know we won't fight back. Arsene has not instilled into them any of the savvy and know-how that our former teams knew very well.
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13/05/2010 14:19:00

Jaelle, I think we're too concerned with trying to play - and being allowed to play - our pretty football that we don't consider the other parts of the game. We've become too engrossed in that. You'll probably know this Jaelle, but the Brazilians are wonderful at mixing flair and virtuosity with hard-work and physicality. It sometimes goes unnoticed but they win the ball back brilliantly - a tackle even turns into a pass in one movement, I've seen it! That's the side of game that we need to work on massively to be a true top side that can actually win things.
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13/05/2010 14:38:00

The Brazil thing is a neat point of reference. Everyone has always raved about Garrincha, Pele, Jairzinho, Kaka and the like. Yet successful Brazil sides have always had a Dunga, a Gilberto, an Emerson. They master that side of the game. Just as well we have a Barzilian defensive midfielder to take over from the last one really......
Little Dutch
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13/05/2010 14:46:00

I agree. I reckon a touch of physicality is all we are missing and we get that, then we have a similiar style of play to the Brazil model which I reckon we arguably had during the unbeaten season. Hardly anyone used to screw with us when he had vieria, adams, keown et all and they did truly look out for each other. Since Vieria left, I think the last remnants of that physicality went with him and we have never really replaced it since.
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13/05/2010 15:00:00

Vin, good point re the successful Brazilian model - tho right now I think we could do with a little more of the Garrincha factor, we have TOO MUCH of the Dunga/Gilberto aspect.
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13/05/2010 15:49:00

Bring back Gilles Grimandi and Remi Garde. Those were the days !
Cockney Rich
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13/05/2010 15:53:00

Ha, how funny! If I'd known I was going to be published, I'd have taken more care with my grammar.

Not sure if you guys have seen the recent article on (not exactly reliable but still...) which is talking about 8 players possibly leaving arsenal this summer and gives possible reasons why - Silvestre (age & form), Gallas (wage demands), Rosicky (injuries), Arshavin (lure of barca & english taxes), Eduardo (injuries), Senderos (not wanted), Clichy (lure of barca & potential of gibbs) and Merida (end of contract). I've also read stories about Almunia being shown the door if you sign a new number 1, Campbell perhaps not being given another contract and Inter Milan sniffing around Sagna who some say hasn't had the greatest year and so might be allowed to leave for a decent fee.

I doubt there is much truth to it all, as it makes no sense to sell that many players at once. You guys would have a better idea than me as to which of these players will stay and which could go - but on paper, if the prices were right - none of those players leaving would be completely shocking from an outsiders point of view (as would be the case if RvP left for example). Whats interesting, is that man for man - that is every player in your squad over the age of 26 being linked with a move away THIS WEEK! My question is - Does the media just make this stuff up because of some perverse desire to keep painting arsenal as the peter pan of the premier league? Or is their some desire from within the club (ie the guys who give Wenger his transfer budgets or Wenger himself) to keep the team perennially young, because it prevents fans from pointing the finger at them for the lack of silverware?
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13/05/2010 16:26:00

OT: This excellent Guardian article is a wrap-up of the season's stats. Several are directly relevant to Arsenal:
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13/05/2010 17:24:00

Excellent article jaelle, thanks for posting. It sums up our weaknesses well (obvious to most fans anyway)... poor at defending set pieces, poor at crossing, and not enough tackling/closing down in midfield. I'm sure AW will adress those problems over the summer.
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13/05/2010 18:42:00

"I'm sure AW will adress those problems over the summer" -- I hope your optimism is merited, bowie. These problems have been with us for yrs now and AW still has not addressed them. I knew we were poor at crossing but I didn't realize we were the league's worst.
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13/05/2010 20:28:00

The 'you cant win with kids' theory is flawed, 4 vermaelens in defence, 2 cescs in midfield with one song (we've only got one song), 2 messis and a bendtner up front and thats a wrap
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13/05/2010 20:36:00

I am optimistic jaelle, I believe AW has made mistakes in the past but he has learned from them. Also he finally has some money to spend so I think he will do things differently this summer. It's been a frustrating season again but things are not as bad as some people make out and I don't think we're far from being a brilliant team.
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13/05/2010 23:24:00

Keep Gallas and Andrei, tell Mikael and Manuel to jump off a bridge. Not sure about Sol.
Ozi Gooner
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14/05/2010 01:13:00

It's true it comes with Experience, i saw Rosicky go in and take someone's legs out after a dirty foul on Diaby and Rosicky copped a yellow card for it. Cesc and RVP were lucky because they got to play with our strongest team. It's not about going out there and being a dirty player, it's about, if someone comes in thinking they can push you, push them back. It even happens at the most basic levels of football, and the more they do it and you keep your cool aswell as let them know they're gonna get nowhere with it, you'll see them start to lose there bottle, they'll come in dirtier and get themselves carded, play worse becasue they are agrivated. It's acually a good feeling when people play like that against you, it's basically admitting defeat because they can't handle playing against you.
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14/05/2010 05:56:00


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