One Of Us Speaks – Making It Last

There’s this idea I’ve been entertaining for a while. It’s about young players and how they develop.

I bet you’re asking why you should care what it is.

Well smarty-pants, you will care after I reveal the pinpoint prognostications I made about our youngsters a few years ago:

When I first saw David Bentley play for the first team, everything in the background slipped out of focus. I had eyes only for the guy with the spiky rattail thing on his head. He was so brash, so stylish!

Yeah he had lines shaved into his eyebrows, but what of it?! He could lob goalkeepers from 30 yards and play those snazzy “I murked you by looking the other way, bruv!” passes.

I smoothed the goosebumps on my forearm and dared to wonder whether I was watching the promised one – the long-awaited English champion of the new Arsenal way. I didn’t want to burden him with expectation, but I was pretty sure he’d take over from Bergkamp in a couple of years.

Later there was the winger, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie. Already better than what we had in the first team 2005, he was an Overmars, Pires and Kanu smoothie. But ouch, baby! Someone added some spice to the mix because that boy was audacious, outrageous and downright paceous. Speedy enough to be the tracer that would light the way to our new home at the Emirates.

Arturo Lupoli was the best finisher I’d ever seen at his age, and so intelligent for a player so young. I had it his career mapped out in my head – allowing for injuries and adjustments he’d be getting 25 goals a season come 2008, no problem. I tell you, back in 2005 the future was so bright I got a tan off my crystal ball.

Don’t worry; this is going somewhere. Well, sort of.

I got a bit carried away and assumed that a couple of good performances in the Carling Cup augured a fine career. I mean, if that was how well they could play on their debuts then they could only improve from there, right?

Wrong! They’d all leave the club within a couple of years, and have since gone on to do not very much.

But to get to the point at long last – often when a young player first breaks into the first team and plays well, I believe we get a glimpse, not of what the guy is capable of producing every match thereafter, but what level he might be able to reach in a few years with luck, hard work and careful guidance.

Beyond having a fine education, I reckon one of the main reasons our teams have done so well in the League Cup is because they’ve known that there’s no shame in losing to a side with five or even ten more years of experience. And if a youngster happens be thrown into a Premier League lineup – hey, it’s his first day. Slip-ups can be excused, both by fans and teammates, and he should be talked through every step of the experience.

Add to that, a youngster playing in his first few games for the team often has no profile. People may have heard things about their possible loan moves or form for the reserves, but they won’t have the kind of detailed information about youngsters that they already know by heart about established first team players.

Youngsters are also desperate to impress. And when you combine that keenness with the spring in their step brought on by the knowledge that the match is relatively consequence-free, and that the other team probably doesn’t know much about them, you’ll get the exciting performances that we’re used to seeing from our youngsters.

This is where the manager steps in. When he’s allowed to make the decision, I think Arsène Wenger is the best around at knowing which players to bring forward, which to hold back, and which to cast the hell off.

Yes, David Bentley looked good in the few minutes he got for the first team, but got to thinking that he deserved a place ahead of our first-choice creative players. I imagine that he didn’t realise what kind of dedication would be needed to get to a level and maintain it. There’s an inevitable comedown to inconsistency after the high of the first few matches, and this is where players prove their worth.

You can be as cocksure as Bendtner fresh from a day at the salon, but what’s important is the maturity and intelligence to knuckle under when football becomes a grind. David Bentley had lots of skill and abundant swank, but he turned out to be a bit of a swanker.

Assuming you can read around the cracks on your smashed computer screens, I’d like to apply my half-baked thinking to our current young players. Take Aaron Ramsey. In the first months after he joined us he looked like a classy fighter. And then came the grind, with a dodgy homecoming against Cardiff and some inconsistent performances in early ‘09.

Two years ago he was just getting up to a good level when he stumbled into the wrong cave. And as a consequence his journey will be more difficult that it ever should have been. Here’s what we know though – he has outstanding potential and he has the makeup to overcome extreme adversity. At present he’s getting by, but before long he will take another step up. I’m sure of it.

How about Alex Song? At Charlton, during his first run of first team matches in England he looked like a creative midfielder with muscle. Back at Arsenal it seemed he was limited, but thankfully aware of it and kept his game simple. With patience, hard work and changing circumstances, the traits we saw at Charlton resurfaced this season, and he’s now a player who can affect both attack and defence.

196 thoughts on “One Of Us Speaks – Making It Last

  1. Spurs have a much better run in – and we need to beat Chelsea next week, so can’t see Chelsea catching Spurs ZP.

    Now Newcastle could be dangerous – but they have a tricky run in too.

  2. Ideally,the sharing of the spoils as follows:

    ManUre: Champion
    Arsenal/Man City; 2nd/3rd
    Newcastle: 4th

    FAC winner: Everton

    Mickey Mouse Cup winner: Liverfools.

    Europa League: Chelsea, Spurs.

  3. i think martinez is most likely to make it out the current reserves.As for thye standard of the young players it is alot better than a few years ago with each batch providing two or three real contenders for the first team every year.Alot of loanees stand a great chance of coming back into the squad. The standard of players we are getting rid of each year is also rising which is also a mark of higher quality and sucess rate

  4. Just another Luke – yes that sounds ideal to me. I’d love it. LOVE IT. If Newcastle finished 4th.

  5. I’m not sure run-in opposition counts for that much at this stage, although Spurs do have it easier than the other three. The thing is, playing a bottom six club who have to, have to, have to not lose, and the manager says “just 90 minutes of incredible effort, and we could survive” is a frightening phsyical prospect. I’m just basing on the fact that Chelsea, many of the same players, have a pedigree in “the late season surge” and are playing pretty well, whereas Spurs are dropping their focus rapidly. It’s hard to re-capture form (momentum) in a poor run; you need time and Spurs don’t have it.

  6. Maybe you are right ZP…

    As long as we finish 3rd now, I have to say I don’t really care too much, although us being 3rd and Newcastle 4th would be most agreeable!

  7. That said, I could not care less where anyone else finishes except Arsenal, and of course that Jack wins his bet, and ld traditions do not end (St Totts Day). They’re all the same to me. Prefer Newcastle though, just. And hope City utterly fails on all counts and Mancini fired. Hope Wigan stays up, and Swansea and Norwich do well. Hope Everton gets the FA Cup. That’s it really.

  8. I’d love a situation where we are clear with a game (or two, who knows, not likely) to go, and Wenger picks a little dream team, with Diaby.

  9. Well in Santos – Speaking to ESPN Brasil, he said, “In the first half Balotelli almost broke Song’s leg, than he harshly tackled Sagna. Someone had to be hard on him, put him in his place.

    “Someone had to say something to him because he was doing what he wanted, and that’s not how things work.

    “I was watching from the bench. When I was on the pitch I’d have the job to mark him, and that’s what I did. It’s part of the game.”

  10. nice of santos to do that. That is just one of the things that make you feel Arsenal is a family. I love to see the players sticking up for each other.

    Wenger’s response to Sol Campbell was brilliant. Why would anyone talk nonsense about Arsenal given the way they are currently playing and the man in charge.

    Here is his response:

    “Sol Campbell has a lot of money, his gifts are welcome”

    “If he gives us money, we will spend it, believe me. The best way always to give advice is to show example. Give your own money and we will spend it.”

    “What has not changed at all is our policy – that we will be ambitious as ever and spend the money we have available,” Wenger explained.

    “We’ll always spend money because we are very ambitious for top-class players and if we look at the history of our last 15 years we have always had top-class players and, incidentally, Sol Campbell is one of them.

    “People forget we had a terrible start to the season down to the fact that we had injuries and transfers.

    “Our ambition is in tact – to win the championship – and it depends now how we finish the season to decide how much we need to buy to have a good chance to win the championship next season.”

  11. good topic..
    good post..

    i think it shows the youth policy works..not all the players make it but it generates the club with a decent return..
    i cant remember the full fee..but bentley for example brought in around 10mil in profit..

    the absolute cream of the crop come out of the kiddie system, the best one ive seen is cesc although jacks breakthrough season was not far off..
    theres also a few who take a few years to get going, like theo and rambo..

    the rest? they help bring in revenue..although we need to stop selling the very best ones when they start to getting in and around the ‘top quality’ bracket

    one of the things that tickles my balls about all this is that the new batch of project youth is the best ive seen for a while..
    in any project it may take a few tries to get it right..a few years go by and you make mistakes and learn from them before you hit the spot..

    im confident we could have unearthed a core group of young superstars this time around..
    i feel it would be a better scenario for the likes of le coq, le ox, le rambo, le ryo. le jenks and le jack for us to integrate them in slowly into a strong first team..and not throw them all in at once like we have done with previous batches and watching them get mentaly and physically battered..

    if we look at our first team its pretty solid and thats without most of the wonderkids..
    this summer we should maybe look to make our first 18-20 solid…then back a solid first team and a solid bench up with our future stars..

    then we can start bringing them in when we are on winning streaks and giving them a taste of blood..instead of throwing them in like a rabbit in headlines and giving them a taste of their own blood..

    if we wouldnt have bought the experienced players last summer we wouldnt have recovered with just the kids..
    this was a year of nervous breakdown proportion, it needed a whole load of seasoned pros to get us out of it and almost get us over the line..
    we could do with a few more..

    then next season, come May i dont think we’ll be 20 points of 1st spot..

  12. SA
    i chuckled when i read those comments..
    wenger knows sol has money cos wenger paid him his wages for best part of a decade.. 🙂

    funniest thing about it all is..sol basically came in on a free transfer.. 🙂 and hes calling for money to be spent (if its true)

    to be fair his wages were astronimical he was on well over 100k a week but thats only cos we saved about 30mil on a fee – he was better than rio..he was the best defender in the league..

    situation with robin is striker in the league..
    showing him the money will help make his mind up.. and it will end up costing us less than forking out the 30mil it will cost to buy someone like robin

  13. JAL

    I’m pretty sure that if Everton win the FA Cup, only the 5th placed team in the PL goes into the Europa League. Normally one of the cup winners qualifies for the Champions League which opens up another space for 6th place. Unless of course, England gets a place via the Fair Play League which will go to 6th place.

  14. if everton win the fa cup and finish above liverpool it will be brilliant..
    it will serve them right for sacking commoli and not kenny..
    hes turned liverpool into what graham turned us into near the end..a good cup team but totally shite in the league..

    and his management skills and PR skills are shite..

    liverpool have created a cultured of ugly football and ugly personalities and its left a sour taste in the PL mouth..

    commoli got some good players in, especially suarez.. and theyve been poorly managed.
    im pretty much convinced if suarez was a wenger player the racism thing would never have happened and everyone would be making comparisons with aguerro..
    hes wasted at liverpool..

    the formations built to benefit carrol..kennys a joke..

  15. ZP – why on earth would you want Mancini out? He’s ideal! 😉

    An incompetent buffoon at best. I have never rated him – his achievements in Italy were on the back of others work and iduring the aftermath of the betting scandal, which conveniently opened the field for him to have to do very little in order to have a shot at winning.

    What we have seen here, in spite of his embarrassing expenditure, is that when he is presented with a challenge he hides from it or tries to nullify it. He’s a cowardly manager, too scared of losing to risk winning.

    I hope he is kept on regardless of the season’s outcome because whoever his replacement is will undoubtedly do a far, far better job.

  16. I really loved the Mancini who played at Sampdoria. Particularly when he made a magnificent four with Lombardo, Platt and Gullit when they were runners up in serie A. It’s sad that his coaching doesn’t reflect the classy player he was!

  17. Sorry to hear you are not well FG – get better soon. Great post @ April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm. Look at Szczesny – allegedly threatening to leave, kicks a ball at Fabianski (who was in great form at the time) damages his shoulder, bish, bash, bosh – Szczesny in, Fabianski out and the rest is history.

  18. Good stuff Big Al!

    I agree with Shotta and Jonny regarding Denilson. A fine talent that has been jacked up by injuries and cruel people.

    As far as the petition, it came to me that we should post it on the various sites prior to and after matches. That is when people blog the most.

  19. “It’s sad that his coaching doesn’t reflect the classy player he was!”

    One doesn’t always follow the other KG.

    My money is on the return of the special needs one.

  20. Jonny.

    With fear and dread of re-opening yesterday’s fun threads and ruining OOU’s fine post and diverting from the many interesting comments above, Calciopoli was not a betting scandal. It was a match fixing scandal. : )

    Moving swiftly on…enjoy your Arsenal free weekend everybody.

  21. Arsene Wenger cracks me up – this one should become a classic and it’s true. It’s always so easy to spend someone else’s money!

    “Sol Campbell has a lot of money, his gifts are welcome”

    “If he gives us money, we will spend it, believe me. The best way always to give advice is to show example. Give your own money and we will spend it.”

  22. “Calciopoli was not a betting scandal. It was a match fixing scandal. : )”

    Which strangely enough involved certain ‘friendly’ referees being appointed to key matches

  23. just because match fixing and stuff happens doesnt mean it happens here..

    im sure theres cases where such things have been highlighted but lets face it, this country isnt exactley a bed of roses, but at the same time its not a place thats run by the mafia, tyrants or communists..

    we are pretty tight as far as these things cant even place a bet in bookies on a player to score first against a team he used to play for without computer saying no..those bets have to be monitered and okayed by head office..annyone who bets will know what im talking about..a 10sec bet turns into 30mins of red tape and phone calls before you can put your 50p on.. simply becuase they have a system that closes the bet if theres any sign of foul play..even if its a former player….

    everyones calling for video evidence.
    if wengers quotes on the topic today were written on this blog would there be any disagreements with it??

  24. “Which strangely enough involved certain ‘friendly’ referees being appointed to key matches”

    Ha! I feel that to understand the ties the football people involved had and that many continue to have with criminal organisations is to understand Italy which gives understanding of the fertile ground for Calciopoli.

    It could happen here, but one should be careful of drawing direct tangents to Italy, without careful consideration to those crucial influential factors.


  25. Or – what JJ said.

    And off goes the eternal disagreement again!

    Like an Ethopian at the Olympics, this one is going to run and run.

  26. Sickening isn’t it Duke? It would ALMOST be understandable if was at the point of the season when things looked bleak but NOW?!

    Not all of us run away to momma half way through the game.


  27. Chim chiminy, chim chiminy, chim chim chiroo, who needs Sol Campbell when we’ve got Djourou

  28. Just wanted to mention that we have seen matches rigged in Germany as well, and not just in former East Germany either. and when it comes to corruption etc. I don’t think that Germany is any worse at all compared to England.

  29. Where is sol now, not down the priory still is he??? anyway he mugged Wenger off didnt he saying he was gunner play abroad then turned up down at pompey with a big old brass fukin neck. the bloody cheek.

    bloody great signing when we got him though as like JJ said he was the best at that time and as soon as we got him we all knew the title would follow.

    shame ex players have to tarnish their reps, like smithy…i always had that moany gits shirts. he fukin loves the mancs more then us now…i would like some biased blind loyalty from our ex’s.(like ex scouse players)..

  30. pretty much agree with duke..
    i do like sol, i met him once and he did speak to me..briefly
    but his comments are ill timed..

  31. Agreed Evil there has been corruption across Europe – Germany was the tip of the Iceberg. Not only that, widespread corruption was revealed to be endemic in Germany, with Siemens being the highest profile example. In fact Germany has a VERY long history of match fixing from before the wall fell – then 2005, 2009 and so on.

    I do think it could happen here I just refuse to casually take faith it is the cast-iron truth in absentia of proper evidence.

    In the wake of the 2009 scandal – which engulfed numerous countries in Europe, and involved a gang of Eastern European mafia types, they investigated matches in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia-Hercegovina & Austria!

    They also did some raids in the UK but found no evidence.

    All of which proves nothing but, as a bit of a rationalist, I remain open to the idea without making up my mind.

    I do feel some are working the other way round.

  32. innocent until proven guilty..

    corruption is highlighted by all the cases across wherever..

    with all this ‘evidence’ there is why hasnt the case been cracked yet?
    unless theres no case, because theres no real evidence..

    so why instead of pride ourselves in that fact do we try to make out we a part of it??
    just because we dont win?


  33. One principal difference is that the UK has been largely free from the influence of true ‘organised crime’ in the sense of a ‘mafia’ (endemic in Eastern Europe and a fucking institution in Italy) for years.

    Germany shares borders with Poland, which is another mafia hotbed (it’s football has been a regular repeat offender).

    I hope I am right – strangely enough I feel that some people would actually prefer it was found to be corrupt.

    But then I guess everyone likes to be right. 🙂

  34. @Jonny
    I personally don’t think that there is proper match fixing in England, certainly not in the Premier League. Lower leagues — hell, why not? Wasn’t there a report recently about County Cricket being fixed, by domestic players and all that? So one can’t say that we haven’t seen that kind of manipulation in England. But at the same time some people seem to genuinely believe that England is some sort of last harbour of honesty in the world and that corruption is possible everywhere but not in the UK, as if by virtue of being English you can’t be bribed. This holier-than-thou attitude-shit gets on my tits, to quote Alan Davies.

  35. no evil.
    its the other way round i feel sometimes.
    ppl scream corruption becuase they have the opinion england is the last harbour of honesty..therefore wanting to taint that…

    cricket isnt football…just like england isnt italy..

  36. JJ,

    If only Wenger got his shopping in early a?? we were all crying out for wenger to offload the weak minded and bring in some fukin players who were up for it. 27 points out of 30 thats title form. really this sol article must be old coz the way we are playing now if we keep this team no one is going to touch us next year.

  37. MDGunner @ 9:14pm – Possibly the most intelligent of all your postings, I can find no fault with what you say at all. Well said 🙂

  38. As long as the players stay, we will be the best team in the PL next season. Well…we are now but we will add the silverware next seasono. What we are looking at is a team that can be the best in the world. All the other teams have quite a few aging players, most of our players are not even in their prime as yet.

    Blow wow!

  39. If we keep all the players we currently have and get them to sign their contract extensions, get the rumoured signing of Poldi done and add maybe one more player (but that’s not a must, rather a wild card if Arsène identifies a player of top quality for the right price that will undoubtedly improve us) as well as the usual intake of talented youngster signings (like Oxo and Jenks last year) it will have been a fantastic summer in my opinion. But that’s in an ideal world. I fear that it won’t be that easy. Maybe someone will be looking for a new challenge, others might leave looking for more first team action while some will just be lured away by money calling. And should any of the cases happen, and I sincerely hope that they don’t, we will have to replace those players.

  40. Im a staunch supporter of Wenger, and I absolutely love the feel good vibe thats returned to the club following the recent run. BUT, the true test will come in the summer. We HAVE to invest, our first X1 is undoubtedly a good side, but at the moment we are only playing one game a week. Next season, we are going to be playing 3 games a week for a month at a time, and its during that period when titles are won and lost.

    Thats why I cannot reteriate enough, we HAVE to invest tin 3-4 solid players who can do a job. Van P will not be able to play 60-70 games next season, not with this being a Euros year, and its exactly because of this that makes the summer one of the most crucial in a long time. Get it right, invest in the right players, trim the squad in the right manner, get in a good pre season without to many injuries, and we’ll be challenging for the title.
    Fail to tie Van p, Song, Walcott etc onto new deals, invest at the last minute in response to departures, and I think we will be back to square 1

  41. Just what shade of purple is SAF’s nose exactly? Or would it be more rightly considered mauve?

  42. When watching the Wigan/Manure game the camera showed a close up at one stage, I swear it seemed to change color right in front of me!! Very creepy. Even more so in Hi-Def.

  43. I don’t swallow it MGK.

    I remember the miserable looking bastard though. I couldn’t stop laughing at his downturned mouth. The very picture of misery.

  44. A good sign is how blatant he’s being, but I can’t think of any other positives.

    “Dinner with great company”

    I’m really confused because at face value this looks shit on various levels.

  45. Right, I’ve done some more dtective work and hopefully this I think this is the truth

    Squid Boy ‏ @TheSquidBoyLike

    Robin follows this Famlan person, just so you know. So the dude must be a family friend. I think we’re okay, folks. You can breathe again.

    Reading Aquid Boy’s timeline on Twitter, he seems to know the whole story.!/TheSquidBoyLike

    Apologies for the scaremongering – wasn’t my intention just wanted my mind put at ease.

  46. Oh Gawd. Now just watch as the press get hold of this and the media shitstorm enfolds.

    I’m bored just thinking about it.

  47. jonny, bob

    Check out the Twitter link above. There seems to be a rational, perfectly harmless reason.

    I’m sure if the media do start peddling this, RVP wan’t hesitate to discredit it.

  48. I’m sure that is the truth but why did he look so miserable at the match?

    Just one of those faces maybe.

  49. You always know a post that starts
    “Im a staunch supporter of Wenger, and I absolutely love the feel good vibe thats returned to the club following the recent run.”
    isn’t going to be worth reading.
    I don’t know about you but I’ve never felt the need to reassure anyone how much I support the club and all of it’s staff. Isn’t that a given?

  50. Frank

    I assume you’re talking to me. If so, read all of my posts again – hardly promoting the idea rather trying to discredit it / get more info to put my mind at ease hence my post at 8.56 and subsequent tweets.

    If you still feel I’m peddling crap rather than updating ACLF’s on what is already doing the rounds practically everywhere else then apologies and, well, fuck you.

  51. Show me a left back like Santos and I’ll show you a liar.Thanks finsbury for the videos.

    OOU very nice post though I am a day late in reading it and very nice comments from most of the commentators.

  52. I watched the City game again last night,without the nervous squirming that accompanies the live game.
    I noticed a few things.
    Firstly,how useless I am at analyzing a game whilst watching live.I was screaming at the TV for Santos to hold the LB position and stop thinking he was a fucking forward.Yet on a re-look He came on and vastly increased out attacking options.
    And Rosicky was ten times better than I noticed first time.He is truly a magnificent player.

  53. George

    I really think Santos has been amazing for us. Never heard of the fucker and maybe he was only signed once Arsene felt Traore wasnt up to the task, but whatever, he is a top top player and a geezer too, judging by his comments about Balotelli.

  54. How sweet that jonjon thinks there cannot possibly be any skullduggery involved in this country. I wish I was so naive. Must be wonderful to have a child like outlook on life! 🙂

  55. Im a staunch supporter of Wenger, and I absolutely love the feel good vibe thats returned to the club following the recent run.But Wenger really has to start thinking like me.
    We need an English CB ,a DM and a striker to cover for RVP .Also we must sign that Hazard lad.
    We could fund this by selling the deadwood ,Arshavin ,Vela ,Diaby,Denilson ,Rosicky and Bendtner.
    And as well we need a change of shape .I think 442.We alsays won stuff with that set up.
    Oh and I forgot ,we need a playmaker as good as Fabregas.And AOC should start every game.

  56. We could use a new goal keeper to George as I really don’t think this Szcezny fella will cut it in the long run.

  57. There’s no sense denying that there is a lot of work to do this summer, however. Finding loans/sales or deciding to keep in the squad players out on loan this season, negotiations or decisions to sell players with one year left, strenghthening where needed or possible and managing all of this with typical fiscal constraints and squad rules. Very complicated with so many factors involved and each aspect influencing other decisions to try to end the summer with strength and balance in the squad and decent pre-season preparation despite Euros and Olympics. Takes a genius–luckily we have one.

  58. I hope Arshavin comes back to us this summer. I think we could have done with his magic vs QPR. Next season he won’t be as concerned about playing infrequently as there isnt a Euros/WC to worry about.

    Top player, we definitely should hang onto him.

  59. Who the feck do I want to fin the FA cup now? Such a pisser that the racist half of scouseland won today. Perhaps a chavs win with them finishing 6th?

  60. Yea would like to see AA back at some point. I have to admit to being very disappointed in Chamakh and Park. Between the two of them this year, they have really made me appreciate NB52!

  61. Limestone

    Yeah there’s lots to do in the summer, but there’s still plenty to do now! We keep this winning run going and end the season on a high and then we tie down the captain, Theo and Alex. That will be a successful summer for me, any additions will be a brilliant bonus! I think 2 or 3 signings will arrive, but the new contracts are more pressing for me.

Comments are closed.