Arsenal - Doesn't Szczesny believe in himself?
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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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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 2 2010

Time: 9:48AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
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?
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02/11/2010 09:59:00

I also think if we're to keep Szczesny then Almunia has played his last game for us.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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02/11/2010 10:47:00

Szczesny has far less chance of making number one at ManU than he does with us. Fergie has never really trusted young keepers. If WS is looking for regular football then he'll have to set his sights a little lower for a few seasons.
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02/11/2010 10:50:00

I'm not saying he will be trusted as number one up there, but you can be sure that Fergie would tell him he has a great chance of being first choice stopper. But in the same vein, Wenger has never really trusted young keepers either ... Manninger was the best young keeper we'd ever played and he was punted back to the bench the second Seaman was fit despite playing out of his skin. Fabianski is the youngest keeper since Wenger has put his trust in, and that was forced rather than by choice, all Wenger's other first choices have been in their 30s.
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02/11/2010 10:55:00

Almunia could be a long (2 or 3 seasons) term solution as a back up. I don't think there are that many better back up keepers in the PL. I'd be inclined to keep them all let Almunia drift to number three and for Szczesny to eventually challenge for first spot with Fabianski. Quite where that leaves Mannone I'm not too sure. But it would be nice to have as strong a keeper unit as we can and that requires experienced back up too.
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02/11/2010 10:57:00

Agree that Almunia would be (and always has been) a great squad goal keeper .... I just don't think he'll accept it at this stage in his career .... can't blame him either really, he would be number 1 and quite a few other teams.
Report Abuse
02/11/2010 11:00:00

Seems like a private conversation going on with Amos and Rocky!
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02/11/2010 12:43:00

You'd be shocked and stunned about what Amos and I talk about in private :0 ..... this is most definately an open conversation :)
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02/11/2010 12:49:00

WS needs to realise that he is the equivelent of a 16 year old out field player (as Wenger aludes to). I have been following him with interest since he arrived at the club, and rate him very highly. I would like him to sign a new contract and then go out on loan again next season with Almunia hanging around as back-up.
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02/11/2010 13:20:00

"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." LOL, this is truly hilarious bizarro world reasoning. Never heard of someone demanding to work in the position he's trained for not being confident of his own abilities. The basic theme of this entire article is utterly ludicrous. The reason that Szczesny is impatient and upset he's not playing 1st team football is precisely because HE'S VERY CONFIDENT OF HIS ABILITIES AND BELIEVES HE'S GOOD ENUF TO PLAY REGULARLY. (I could argue that keeping quiet and being perfectly comfortable with never playing means you have zero confidence in your abilities). When you're confident of your abilities, eager to show how good you are, you're impatient if you're not being allowed to do so. Duh. Really basic. Some people handle that impatience better than others. Obviously Szczesny doesn't handle it well. He's impatient because he believes he can be a top keeper--end of. I know we're supposed to take AW's side on everything but I'm not the only one who thinks AW has made a complete shambles of the keeper situation at the club, showing unbelievable incompetence. He was ruthless with Jens when he made a couple of serious mistakes yet never showed the same ruthlessness with Almunia--meanwhile you have 3 keepers languishing, not being allowed to develop with real football. At least Manone's on loan now. But Szczesny isn't, he wants to play and he's worth fighting to keep. I don't demand that every single player be a placid little mouse nor do I believe we should just throw away a player because he dares to express his frustration at not playing. Good for Szczesny for mouthing off, AW needs a player to confront his inept handling of this whole situation. Szczesny should be given the CC and FA games, and the inconsequential CL games. Let him prove just how good he obviously thinks he is.
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02/11/2010 13:37:00

Truth is jaelle that you've no idea whether Szczesny is worth keeping or not. You've very little to base it on other than hearsay and speculation from others yet you are seemingly willing to put faith in it. If Szczesny truly believes he's clearly much better than Fabianski or Almunia can ever be then the most sensible thing for him to do is to stay where he is. If he is that good he's a shoe in then for the number 1 spot in one of the top European clubs. What better club than Arsenal for young players to be blooded? It's truly a hilarious and bizarre world of reasoning when you were castigating Wenger for giving Fabianski the chance to prove himself while seeming now to offer the same criticism for not taking an even greater risk with Szczesny. Right now Szczesny is just another Bentley, Sidwell or Diarra - happy to tell everyone how great he is but not really having the balls to stick it out and prove it.
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02/11/2010 13:57:00

@Jaelle, "Szczesny should be given the CC and FA games and the inconsequentila CL games...". The fact is, Fabianski also needs games to sustain momentum. The thing with the keeper role is that you only get better with games, yet you only get enough games as No. 1; very few teams (if any) rotate the keeper position, as suggested in your post. It is a special position where you need to give the chosen one confidence with more games, which also helps for understanding amongts the back 5. Unless Fabianski has a cock up of gargantuan proportions, it is unlikely WS will get as many games as he suggests will make him stay. In any case, we seem to forget there is still Manonne to think about.... and he is older than WS.
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02/11/2010 14:15:00

For me, the young keepers need to be more patient, for the sake of their careers and there is no better place than at Arsenal to be guaranteed first team action, if you are so good. With regards Rocky's allusion to Manninger's exclusion soon as Seaman was fit, that was down to "popular decision", afterall, we are talking about England's No.1 here, who also had loads of experience to boot. In contrast, it will be difficult for Almunia to get back his place as he is not even in the frame for his National team; plus, Fabianski is doing well, for now. I agree it will be good to have him around as back-up, at the very least, for this season. Poor guy!
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02/11/2010 14:24:00

What is bizarre is that we now seem to have an embarrassment of riches in the goalkeeping position. Fabianski has shown great character recently in dominating the Arsenal goal with terrific confidence after he has been battered to bits by all and sundry. That tells me he is well worth persevering with and could be a great ‘keeper in the future. As for Szeszesnszssznsny, whilst he should have a desire to be playing first team football, I’m not sure giving the club an ultimatum is the best way to go about it. He is undoubtedly a good ‘keeper and another decent Arsenal prospect, but bullying your way into the first team is not the way to go about it. He would have to be exceptional to jump the queue ahead of Fabianski and Mannone and against Newcastle he showed that he still has a lot to learn. There is no better place for learning football than at Arsenal, so he just needs to have patience and his time will come.
Sir Henry
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02/11/2010 14:55:00

I fail to see what Almunia has to offer us really. Whilst I admire Amos, LD and the handful of others who continue to have faith in him, I just don't. Admittedly, I didn't in Fabianski eight weeks ago either. But Almunia has had his extended run in the side and can anyone really say they were ever delighted? I recall him having one cracking game at United in the CL and a great first half against Barca. I don't remember any more 'world class' performances. "Ok, so then he's just a solid, consistent keeper" his fans will say. Well unfortunately he's not. I can't express how important his mistake at Birmingham was last year. I'm not pinning everything on him, that would be unfair, but it's certainly fair to say we went off the rails after that result, which I personally put down to a loss of confidence. And let's not pretend that's his only error in an Arsenal shirt. You can claim he offers experience. Does he? He played for a couple of *****ty spanish clubs until he joined us, and hasn't won anything with us, only being number one since 2007. My point is, I totally understand Szczesny's frustration. And to those who are keeping their feet on the ground, call me naive, but what is the worst that can happen? He throws the ball into his own net? Drops crosses? Suffers a horrible loss of confidence? We've seen that on numerous occassions from Almunia and Fabianski. The latter is getting a chance now, and is turning it around. Manuel had his chance and blew it, I'm afraid. Frankly, he'd be much better at Bolton, Fulham or some other mid-table side. Fabs currently merits beign first choice and Szczesny also deserves a chance.
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02/11/2010 18:54:00


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