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Doesn't Szczesny believe in himself?

Doesn't Szczesny believe in himself?

Our young Polish goalkeeping prospect Wojciech Szczesny has been making a lot of noise of late agitating for more first team chances. There`s nothing wrong with that, we`d want any of our players to harbour enough ambition and self belief to want to have the chance to show their quality. But the highly rated 20 year old appears to be pursuing a path well worn by other impatient youngsters in seemingly offering public ultimatums to play or else. In this case the else is a contract that expires at the end of this season.

If a player truly believes that he is better than any of the incumbents at a club as big as Arsenal then why doesn`t he trust his own belief that his greater talent will prevail sooner rather than later? Instead a month ago, apparently irked at not even having the backup spot to Fabianski in the CC game at WHL, he expressed his ire with the bizarre proposition that Arsenal are unwilling to give youth a chance.

"If you are fighting for trophies, you should pick your best players, not your oldest" Szczesny said at the time. "I am not interested in being the number-three keeper, only the number one. But no-one at Arsenal is brave enough to let me play."

When quizzed on the young keepers outburst at a press conference shortly after, Wenger challenged the young Pole to show the maturity to deal with the challenge that is inevitable at a big club. "He is right, he deserves a chance but the keeper in front of him, Mannone, deserves a chance as well." Le Boss said "It's part of their job as a football player to live with competition and decisions. I believe the best thing for him is just to focus, work hard and trust us. No club in the world has started more players at the top, top level than we have. Nobody, so he is in the right club. But impatience is a characteristic of youth."

That he has talent is clear but there are few truly top clubs that will trust young keepers to learn on the job. Of the top clubs in the PL only ManU will have need for a new number one for the foreseeable future but they don`t have a great reputation for trusting young keepers. He could go abroad of course but would he be offered the chance of playing in the CL at such a young age with a club with any sort of pedigree in the competition?

Of all the positions in the team goalkeeper is the most exposed and the hardest in which to learn on the job. Fabianski has been roasted for poor mistakes in inconsequential games last season in just such circumstances. Inevitably Szczesny runs the same risks no matter how talented he is. His appearance against Newcastle in the CC was a positive one but had not Koscienly saved his blushes on one occasion and Eboue on another his promise might not have emerged quite as buffed from the experience.

"What they forget when they are 20 is that they can play until they are 40, whereas a normal player can only go to 32 or 34 if it all goes well, so what they lose at the start they gain at the end of their career." Wenger explained in urging patience for his young prospect.

It is just such patience that has been applied to Fabianski who, since taking his opportunity in the team this season, has shown that he does have the makings of being a very good keeper. Fabianski is 25 and has had to wait almost 4 years for the prospect of a sustained run in the side but can`t yet be certain he is Number One. This season will answer that question. For Szczesny to stay he needs to believe that he is better than Fabianski. If he has that belief then signing a new contract shouldn`t harbour any fears for him. His failure to do so insisting that he`ll only extend his contract if he has played enough games this season betrays the fears that he might not believe he is as good as he suggests.

Reported yesterday as having declined the new offer put to him Szczesny said "There was some offers, but I am not interested right now. It`s not that I don`t want to extend the contract, I just don`t want to hold talks at this point. I have enough money to live and I can`t complain about that, but I will only be happy if I play. Everything depends on how many games I play. I admit that I want to play at Arsenal as long as they want me. If I can earn my place in goal I won`t even consider any other offers."

Wenger is keen to keep him saying back in September "When you educated a player like we do with Szczesny, who arrives at the age of 16, it is a long-term investment which costs a lot of money, so you want to keep the players. We will talk to him about a new deal. We rate him and we want to keep him."

So therein lays a dilemma for Wenger. On the one hand we can`t be absolutely certain that Fabianski will sustain the reassuring form he has shown so far but are obliged as well as encouraged to allow him to endeavour to do so. If he doesn`t succeed then we either have to turn to the known quantity of Almunia, who despite everything remains a competent top flight keeper or, with Mannone out on loan, bow to the demands of Szczesny, with all the risks that involves both for him and for the team, in order to keep him beyond this season.

There are few inconsequential games in an Arsenal fixture schedule. Beat Shakthar this week and maybe the remaining 2 CL group games could fall into that category. The Carling Cup clearly still does despite our lust for any form of silverware but beyond that and any opportunity the FA cup offers the scope to give Szczesny what he apparently wants is very limited. In the end the belief that Szczesny is good enough to make it here has to come from himself. If he doesn`t have that belief then he probably isn`t the keeper he says he is.

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Date:Tuesday November 2 2010
Time: 9:48AM


We both published a Szczesny article at almost identical times .... though yours was marginally quicker .... and not so marginally better than mine, so I got rid!

It's going to be interesting to see how this one pans out, I personally don't think he's got the patience to last the pace. He seems very impatient, and with the amount of painstaking trouble Fabianski has taken to get himself to the place he is now, I don't see that much football for Szczesny this season .... though a run in the CC and FA Cup might be enough to sooth him?
02/11/2010 09:59:00
I also think if we're to keep Szczesny then Almunia has played his last game for us.
02/11/2010 10:10:00
I'm sure your article would have made the point sharper and got to it a good bit quicker than mine! But you're right it's difficult if Szczesny, who won't be 21 until late spring, has expectations of being number one any time soon. With supporters clamouring for us to take the domestic cups more seriously then we have conflicting pressures when it comes to making such choices.
02/11/2010 10:17:00
If he is as good as he, and Wenger, seems to believe, then I've no problems in him playing in the cup competitions .... they do need some platform to prove themselves. It is a worry that Man Utd could easily lure him to Old Trafford though.
02/11/2010 10:26:00
We'll hang onto Almunia this season. At least it would be sensible to do so. We know his shortcomings but we know that he can do a job too. In some ways I suppose whether he stays this summer depends on whether Szczesny signs a new contract or not. If he doesn't then there'll be no need to make any room and Almunia's more seasoned experience could be useful back up to have. I just hope that Fabianski sustains his current performance levels and we can put this whole keeper 'crisis' behind us.
02/11/2010 10:26:00
ManU haven't shown much patience with young keepers. They're more likely to look to sign a proven keeper in which case Szczesny going to be in the same position there as he is here.
02/11/2010 10:28:00
I just don't see Almunia playing again. If Fabianski keeps his great form up then there's no reason to get Almunia back in, and if Fab gets injured then Szczesny has to be given a chance. And I don't see Almunia accepting being reserve keeper at this stage in his career, whne he can still do a job for someone else.
02/11/2010 10:30:00
I peg Ferguson as one of those who likes to get one over his rivals, I think he'd go in for a very promising young keeper, for no money no-less. He'd be mad not to .... and let's face it, WS would be mad not to accept.
02/11/2010 10:32:00
If Fabianski is playing as he is now then Almunia won't get a game and it might not matter too much is Szczesny extends his contract or not. But if Fabianski hits a poor patch or gets injured do we go for the promise of Szczesny knowing that he could and will make the sorts of blunders that Fabianski has made or the more reliable and experienced Manuel who has had pretty solid spells in the past? The choice is between the known risks of Almunia or the unknown ones of playing Szczesny. In some ways Almunia looks the perfect back up and at his age then back up at Arsenal can't be that bad a lifestyle. It might make sense to encourage him to stay even if he's number 3 in a Lukic/Poom sort of insurance role.
02/11/2010 10:41:00
I'd go for WS. Almunia can be a solid keeper on his day, but is mediocre at best, but other than that it's not going to gain us anything by playing him. He's not going to be a long term solution, and by playing him we risk losing a great prospect. And the possibility of Almunia making the rookie mistake WS will undoubtedly make is quite large. Only difference being playing WS offers him a chance to progress ... where as playing Almunia would just be further proof that we don't trust the young Pole.
02/11/2010 10:47:00
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