Thursday or Friday, apparently, will be the day when there is more news about Arsene’s contract. The cynic in me would not be surprised if it was an announcement that there will be more news the following week. Not that I doubt that he will sign, more that he enjoys stringing the media along, knowing that they are getting all ‘uppity’ with the the continued comments of ‘you’ll be the first to know‘ or ‘when there’s news, we’ll tell you‘.
Warming to a theme that he started a few days ago, he responded to questions about the lack of spending this summer with,
We want to be faithful to the policy in the Club. We have a team that can develop in the next four or five years. I feel we are in the process of turning Cesc Fabregas, Denilson and Abou Diaby into world-class players. It may not be so long before we are on top again. If you ask me if we have the potential to achieve success this year then I say ‘yes without a doubt’. It is important not to relate only success with money.
The issue of English youngsters not making the grade though was highlighted by Stuart Pearce when he echoed the point that Trevor Brooking has been making for years,
The one thing that hit home to me was sitting down and looking at the fixtures and how many players under 21 that were worth me going to watch. The numbers aren’t very big. Is it worth me going to see Liverpool? No. There’s no one on show. Chelsea? No, one on show. Manchester United?
Noticeably absent from his list is Arsenal yet in the First Team, we do not help him that much with only Walcott and Hoyte being available to the Under-21′s. Regularly chastised in the Sports pages for not fielding an Englishman, it seems that we are not worse than any other team with the development of players, far from it. Indeed, Chelsea and Liverpool cannot lay claim to anything like the number of players who have trained at Arsenal and United who go on loan to other clubs or who make the grade elsewhere.
However, Pearce is not blind to where the problem lies,
There’s no point in saying that’s acceptable – we’ve got to say what are we going to do about it? Can we improve the standard of coaching at a younger age?
From an Arsenal perspective, does Arsene have any duty to England’s National Team, to develop the youngsters into first team players? The truthful answer is No. He has a duty to Arsenal Football Club to field the best team available in his opinion. The answer is a double-edged sword. In the past, he has been reticent to sign English players, reflecting that they are not of sufficient technical quality for him. He has never been reluctant to train them though, evidenced by the strong homegrown element in all of his Reserve squads. It is pointed out that many never make the grade at the Club. Very true but when you have had to dislodge players who won many medals and proven their worth, it requires a lot of patience on the part of the youngster and time, which must be quite soul destroying for them, knowing that they could get into a first team elsewhere.
And therein is the crux. In order to protect the smaller clubs from the Premiership, the FA agreed to introduce the ruling that means unless a player lives within, I think, one hour of the Club, he cannot train there. It means that the London teams are now fighting over a limited number of players and not scouting the Country to the extent that they used to so someone living in the Lake District, for example, has to want to play for Carlisle; if they don’t, professional football passes them by. They cannot go to Newcastle or another North Eastern team until they are over sixteen by which time they have made other plans with their lives or are involved in another sport. The crucial age of their development will have been left to someone not necessarily of a high standard of coaching, carrying out the role for the enjoyment as opposed to being under the guidance of a Professional. That is not to decry their involvement; without them, there would be no coaching, leisure time spent doing other things.
However, for all of the FA complaining, they are the cause of the situation; they can rectify it but are unwilling to do so. They persist in allowing Clubs to bring in foreign youngsters whilst limiting their access to ‘homegrown’ talent. From an Arsenal perspective, that does not worry me for the manager has access to one of the best scouting networks in the World and a reputation for developing players. I do not know the statistics but a high percentage of those who train at Arsenal seem to be able to carve a career in the Professional Game. With that in mind, it seems ludicrous that we are limited to basically a hundred mile radius around the Club.
If England are to progress at Internationals, the FA have to enable Clubs to cast a wider net. ’til Tomorrow.