Ladies and Reserves Column #13
The season may be over, but the real work is just about to begin for Arsenal Reserves. It`s at this stage of the year that the staff of any Reserve or Academy set up begins to call players into the office and conduct the hardest part of their job. There are always a clutch of players released at the end of May. Academy graduates with little to no prospect of the first team, players whose contracts are up and not considered worth renewing. Though in some cases there will be happier news as youngsters are offered professional terms.
Before the process begins, it`s likely that the club will await the return of their loan players. Whilst the likes of Sanchez Watt- who finished the season at Crawley Town and Chuks Aneke and Rhys Murphy- both of whom had subdued spells at Preston, will be on teletext booking their package holidays waiting to see what the future holds for them, others are still undertaking tours of duty. It`s likely that Watt will be sold I would imagine, we could probably expect a fee for Aneke too from a Football League side. Rhys Murphy I am certain will be released after a campaign which brought him little but injury and a few unsuccessful trials.
Carlos Vela has finished his loan spell with Real Sociedad. He`s made it pretty clear he doesn`t want to stay at Arsenal and I don`t think he has the appetite to be the level of player we`d need. He probably just scored enough YouTube friendly goals for us to command a fee from a Midtable Spanish club for his services. Pedro Botelho also finished his season well with Levante, who qualified for the Europa League. Botelho has been on Arsenal`s books since 2007 but has been unable to get a work permit. His time with Levante marks his 5th loan spell. The 22 year old Brazilian hasn`t always found life easy in Spain and has been beset with personal problems and differences of opinion with a couple of coaches. Whether or not the club want him back will be a decision that won`t be taken lightly.
Bolivian Samuel Galindo and Wellington Silva have been on loan in the Spanish Segunda and will likely be put out on loan again. Closer to home Kyle Bartley seems to have enjoyed his spell at Glasgow Rangers. He`s a first choice pick and the support appear to have taken to him, but given their fiscal worries and their 12 month transfer embargo, it`s likely that Bartley will be put on the open market. Ryo Miyachi`s loan spell at Bolton started well enough but he`s struggled to get minutes as the Trotters ill fated relegation battle heated up. I`d envisage another loan spell for the talented Japanese winger.
At a guess there will be a clutch of releases, which will free up space in the Reserve side for the likes of Toral and Bellerin next season. I think Ignasi Miquel might be given a loan spell at a Championship club, along with Yennaris, Afobe and Ozyakup. Gavin Hoyte has already been released and I am guessing he`ll be joined by the likes of Jernade Meade, Daniel Boateng, Sean McDermott, James Shea and Sead Hajrovic. Craig Eastmond is another who will surely be placed on the market for a fee.
But it`s not only the playing staff that will rotate- as it always does at Reserve level. There is very strong word to suggest manager Neil Banfield will be promoted to First Team coaching duties with Boro Primorac taking a reduced role. It looks as though there will be a new manager with the club promising a full statement on backroom changes in the coming days. Banfield replaced Eddie Niedzwiecki AS Reserve team boss in 2005 having worked with the youth teams. Whether the club will again promote from within to backfill Banfield`s place (not to mention Steve Bould`s vacancy as U-18 Manager) or whether they will cast the net outside is anyone`s guess. Whereas Bould and Banfield`s promotions were open secrets, the club look to be a little more guarded about this. We`ll have answers soon, however.
Meanwhile, on the Arsenal Ladies front, Laura Harvey`s team suffered a second surprise cup defeat in a fortnight when they went down 4-3 at Lincoln City in the Continental Cup on Sunday. Arsenal have suffered somewhat from a hectic early season schedule as injuries have taken their toll. It`s hard to make judgements having not seen the game, but I`d written over the last few weeks that the most obvious hole in the squad is the lack of cover for captain Jayne Ludlow. With Ludlow injured, Steph Houghton has been playing out of position in the holding role. But it`s Ludlow`s leadership that seems to be missed above all else. She was fit enough only for the bench on Sunday, so at least the signs of her returning quickly are good.
Harvey rested another 34 year old, with centre half Ciara Grant on the bench and Yvonne Tracy coming into the defence. The upshot was the concession of four goals. You feel Harvey has a tough balancing act this season trying to handle the transition between the elder stateswomen of the squad and the younger players coming through. The girls are also missing the keen instincts of Ellie White, whose back problem continues to trouble her. But the team has an instant chance for revenge as they again travel to Ashby Avenue to face Lincoln this Sunday in the WSL. Their final group game of the Continental Cup is against Chelsea at Borehamwood on June 10th. Arsenal need a win to qualify for the semi final knockout.
The Ladies` league game away at Bristol Academy has been chosen for broadcast by ESPN. The match takes place at Bristol`s Gifford Park on Wednesday, 30th May, kicking off at 7.45pm. It`s the first time this season the Ladies have been shown on ESPN this season. The broadcaster has the rights to show 10 Women`s Super League games this season, in conjunction with a weekly highlights show. There`s a difficult balance to be struck with broadcasting rights for the Women`s game. On the one hand, the league and its sponsors will want the increased exposure. Last summer`s women`s World Cup, televised by the BBC, was something of a charm on that score. Particularly as the Final, between Japan and the USA, was widely considered to have been one of the most entertaining live games shown at any level last season.
However, televising matches could hurt the prospect of people turning up to the games and paying the entrance fees. Clubs like Borehamwood, Staines Town- who host Chelsea`s home matches; and Crosby Town (who host Everton) are grateful for the extra income. There isn`t much of an atmosphere to speak of for Ladies games, so you don`t miss out on a huge amount by watching on the goggle box. Of course, the increased exposure of television offers more lucrative sponsorship opportunities, but it`s a pretty supine advertisement for the league if stadiums echo to the strains of silence. Nevertheless, Arsenal are a big draw for the Women`s game and it`s little surprise ESPN have opted to show them. LD.
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