Wenger on Youth, Graham on it All

The international break is upon us, with meaningless friendlies alongside the final qualifiers for next summer’s World Cup finals.

Already photos surfaced of Olivier Giroud clutching his shin with an anguished look on his face. No sign of the French dropping him from their squad; Arsenal don’t have the same sway with France that Spurs do with England, it seems.

International football – loosely – was something Arsène spoke about in a BT Sport film which airs during FA Cup Third Round weekend. The England youth teams are World and European champions at various levels but Wenger agreed that their development at club level is hampered by conservatism. Arsène held his hands up at being as culpable as anyone in that respect,

“There is huge English natural talent out there and the best way to prove that and to check that is if you look at the results of the young boys in England youth teams at international level.

“They start to win competitions, they start to exist in every big competition with the youth level. That means the talent is there. Now we go into process No 3, the integration.

“I would say today, many, many, many clubs do well part one and part two – quality of education – there’s a lot work that has been done in England. We all fail in part three, integration into the first team.

“Nobody has found a miraculous solution because the Premier League has become so demanding that the gap between youth and reserve level and the Premier League is so big that all the managers sit there and sweat on the Friday night and finally think – lets be conservative, we’ll see next week.”

The final paragraph is the damnation of English football; the pressure on all but one of the top flight managers.

Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks

Reserve football never found its feet after the introduction of more substitutes in the first team on match days. Gone was the competitiveness from the Football Combination where all the teams were filled with a mix of youth and experience.

Until we find a balance between that and the current system, the prospects of all the world and European champions excelling in the Premier League are slim to say the least.

The ‘stiffs’ as it was lovingly referred to, was a proving ground for young players and while there was still a gap between that and the first XI, it was smaller than it is today. George Graham benefited from it as much as anyone, particularly as the title-winning side of 1989 came together.

Interviewed in the Guardian ahead of the release of ’89’, Graham’s views on managing are interesting and seemingly at odds with the perception the media puts across. Not in who the good managers are – “These new managers are great. Conte is strong. Guardiola too. Klopp is another” – but in how to treat players,

“There’s this myth that because players are earning fortunes they can do what they want. I disagree. Most players, most people in fact, want to be led. Now, because they are strong financially you have to be even stronger.”

The headlines picked up on his views on Mourinho – “Someone said to me: ‘José’s just like you. He sets up his team to win rather than entertain.’ I always thought sport was about winning” – and these will no doubt be used by some as the cross to crucify the Scot on. The nails are his crimes for which he was punished.

A Real Mean Team

There is an obvious contrast to Arsène here. The Frenchman is a benevolent leader, revealing paternal instincts as opposed to Graham’s disciplinarian approach. Which would be more effective? Now, looking at our squad, it’s hard not think they could do with a dose of tough love. Too many are comfortable, seemingly unchallenged and unchallengeable.

Under Graham, recalcitrant players were sold. Sanchez and Özil get short shrift; their path to the door follows the route followed by the likes of Steve Williams and Charlie Nicholas. Indulged but not that much.

He is rightly scathing of football in the Premier League,

“I was great at organising the defence and my ideal team was Milan. They were the best defensive team I’ve seen – and the only side that played offside better than us.

“The trouble is we have very poor defences now. There are few clubs in England that are good going forward in possession and good at defending.”

Tottenham are the example he picked out, no doubt to the chagrin of many. But he’s right and Arsenal certainly fall into the category of being “poor” at defending.

If we’re honest, Graham would have signed few of our defenders. Monreal, Kolasinac, Bellerin and maybe Holding. Maybe Koscielny in this global age if he’d known about French football. Using a press cuttings agency would save his secretary’s back under the weight of local papers needed these days.

Some will cast his views as bitterness but it is those who run the club for whom he saves his scorn. He is not a regular at Arsenal for good reason,

“I don’t bother because nothing changes. What’s the point? There’s no board at Arsenal. There are questions they’re obviously not going to answer. I heard [chief executive Ivan] Gazidis say they were over-performing. Over-performing?”

Carry the News

The death knell on Ivan’s career? So soon after the farcical ‘catalyst for change’, the ‘metrics’ will never be lived down. Graham’s dismissal of the directors captures the zeitgeist of the club from the outside.

It’s laughable that we have Sir Chips as the club’s figurehead when Sir Bob Wilson would be hugely popular with supporters. He may not be able to effect improvement from the playing side but there would be an unshakeable feeling that our footballing past was not going to waste.

The same goes for Arsène. Graham reiterates the view that Wenger’s life is Arsenal but an injection of realism is needed. His successor would do well to heed the Scot’s words,

“We all have our time. You’ve had your period of success. Now move on.”

Sadly, I don’t think that will happen any time soon with Arsène. When the talks happen at the end of the season, another two-year deal is the likeliest outcome.

Finally, a reminder that the songs Jimi Hendrix covered are on Dad’s Jukebox at the moment but a new post will be surfacing today.

’til Tomorrow.

45 thoughts on “Wenger on Youth, Graham on it All

  1. DALM,

    Absolutely! Prior to ’92 (following the loss to Benfica) we were a powerful attacking team. Anyone who says otherwise either wasn’t there or a revisionist liar.

    Even after GG found ways to win, including in Europe, with a limited squad and limited budget. And he’s correct, first and foremost this is still a sport and it’s about winning. Entertaining (which is not the same as aimless passing for the sake of it) must be secondary. If anyone disagrees they are always welcome to go and be ‘entertained’ at numerous other activities and leave the sport to the rest of us.

  2. GG’s ’91 team came within a whisker of going the season undefeated (we should have beaten Chelsea), and a cocaine fuelled Gascoigne caught us cold in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

    GG was gone within 4 years. Wenger managed the unbeaten season 13 years ago, he hasn’t won the league since (didn’t win a thing for 10 years), and he’s still here.

  3. That’s a bit strong, Andy. @ 9:59

    My late father and I were season ticket holders in the West Stand at Highbury [actually the tickets were my father’s] and I loved, absolutely loved, going to watch – all games, any games involving the Arsenal, and I also went to as many youth games as I could.

    Winning is the whole point of entering any competition – that cannot be denied.

    However starting with the youth team matches I went to, I was not particularly interested in whether we won or not – tho a win gave an extra glow to the evening’s proceedings – no, I went to see the aspiring youngsters, including for a time, the wonderful ‘future Arsenal star’ Jack-the-lad-Wilshere. And I loved that too. It did leave me feeling rather sad later to see Arsenal unload so many good youngsters in the following summer.

    Then, altho I missed most of the early Graham years, the final period was absolutely wonderful because ‘1 Nil to the Arsenal’ became the tune/song that defined George’s era [leaving aside alleged brown paper bags] because our defensive play was excellent, and if we went 1 Nil up the game was over. The era of Adams, Bould, Dixon and Winterburn was special.

    And that wasn’t all, we won cups, we won titles and our attacking displays were just as much a team effort as our defending was. But from my perspective, when George bought Ian Wright, Wright, Wright to go along side Alan ‘sniffer’ Smith, in the early 90s, until he got the sack, George ‘stroller’ Graham’s teams became more defensive, without any shadow of doubt, and the goal scoring fell mainly on Will ‘O the Wisp Wright, who was often magnificent in nicking wins for us — but the games became less entertain, than the sheer exciting stuff I had previously watched.

    So, yes, Georgie Boy’s teams were classy and played lovely, entertaining and winning football which was a delight, and then still earned respect and numerous cups towards the end of his reign as manager, but by contrast to the free-flowing early years, the latter years were far more defensive, and for this (then) young fan, rather boring.

    But for you to think I am a liar, and to send me off to support someone else for feeling and saying the above (as I was clearly there) is a tad harsh,
    There are, no doubt, others who are just as committed to supporting the Arsenal as I am, I do not believe anyone is a more committed fan than me, even if they disagree with the above. No siree Bob. 😀

  4. Merson, Wright, Rocky & Limpar were all exciting players whilst Smith was a prolific link up striker – not exactly boring

  5. Top stuff Yogi.

    I came in really in the 91 season which was the end of the GG era but those memories are spotty at best because I was so young but that was the era I was told about that made me fall in love with Arsenal.

    I think GG is actually spot on, you look and there is no reason why we can’t defend and attack or if we are truly going to be an attacking team then do so to the point that our best defense is to attack. Its one of the things that I truly enjoy about watching our youth, thye attack and they do so relentlessly and its a joy to watch. The real shame comes with the fact that we don’t have bad defenders, we just have defenders that haven’t been managed and coached properly. We have a midfield that lacks balance, I mean I know people love when same Ramsey or Jack pushes forward but the one thing you want your box-to-box or other pivot to do is help defend the midfield, no balance.

    On to the youth, I enjoy them and the talent is there but as has been said, the step up from level to level through the youth ranks ending in the PL is more and more difficult. Just because a player doesn’t make the Arsenal first team doesn’t mean they are a failure, hell it doesn’t even mean that they aren’t talented; it simply means that they weren’t able to make that next step yet. I love watching the youth because the talent is there but we will see if they are able to make the next step mentally. I mean for all the talk of the likes of Giroud and applauding him, people forget that he came through the ranks late and wasn’t rated as a youth, then you see somebody like Gignac who was rated in France for a while and was scoring goals but then he hit a wall as a senior player after he left France and was exposed for the limited player he is and now he is playing somewhere in Mexico. Players develop differently, shame that Bill doesn’t understand that.

    I mean, how many would trade Hayden for Le Coq right now; I know I sure as hell would.

  6. I don’t think he’s the best defensive midfielder, but Coq’s role is undermined by Wenger’s philosophy. It’s clear he is encouraged to get forward and not to defend. The same happened to Song before him. Wenger doesn’t value the defensive midfield position, and hasn’t for at least five years. Look at this piece from 2012:

    Arsène Wenger says the age of the specialist defensive midfielder is over.

    The ‘Makelele role’ – named after the former France international, Claude – has become a staple of tactical talk and describes players who tend to eschew attacking play in favour of protecting their defence.

    When Wenger sold Alex Song in the summer he was tipped by some to replace the Cameroon star with a traditional ‘holding’ player, but instead Mikel Arteta has excelled since dropping into a deeper role.

    “There are no defensive midfield players at the moment,” explained Wenger.

    “We try to find the defensive balance collectively. We have fewer players who are purely defenders but some are physically strong in defending like Diaby, some are tactically strong like Arteta.

    “At the moment we have the balance because everybody participates, but we have fewer specialists, purely defenders. We are more versatile going forward because everyone has the potential to go forward.”

  7. Hi C,

    Seems to me that you are correct.

    Oddly enough, I have always thought that with youth players there is a large slice of luck involved too, as to whether they are selected or rejected.

    As you mentioned him, I think Le Coq was someone who had a slice of good fortune. I watched him in the Arsenal youth team, and compared with others in that team he did not stand out at all.
    Arsenal seemed to have doubts as to what to do with him, and he went out on loan in 2010 when he was 19 y.o. and went back to France and then Germany and finally Charlton until 2014, and was not much good at any of them and the rumour was that he was going to be let go.

    Then —– injuries to the Arsenal midfield galore —— and back he came from loan, and put up a decent performance in the first team until the end of the 2014/15 season.

    So instead of being dumped, he has had quite a decent run at Arsenal, but his quality is very suspect —— but he was given the chance by fate and grabbed it.

    The reverse of that was Dele Ali when he was at Milton Keynes Dons. None of the then top teams wanted him, altho he was well thought of there as a very good athlete with a good ‘motor’.
    In the course of events he may well have had a so-so career at that low level, but Spurs took a chance (well not much of one at £5m) and he has shocked them, and everyone else by becoming a very good player and an alleged target of Real/Barça at £70m +

    Fate?

    Then you wonder, how many others were let go, not just at Arsenal, and just gave up and did something else with their lives — when if their clubs had taken a chance on them they might have blossomed, like Dele Ali, into a star.

    The problem is of course that there are thousands of youngsters at any given time trying to make it in football, and when they are similarly gifted at that age choosing who will or will not make it is just a gamble — and some late starters can develop into good players, while some showing a lot of promise as youngsters end up as big disappointments. C’est la vie.

  8. HenryB,

    Okay, a little strong on my part, maybe I should have added a wink emoji as per a certain elder statesman who sometimes frequents this blog 😉

    No slur intended of course, please note that I did refer to pre-’92 Graham sides so I would stand by my claim that anyone who says we were not entertaining before that is a little fibber. After that we were much more functional but still effective in the cups of course.

    While winning isn’t necessarily the be all and end all in the youth ranks I believe there is still a place for being competitive. We seem to have lost that balance somewhere. And I’ve never been a big fan of allowing youngsters to play solely in their own age related leagues, they do need to mix with older players in competitive matches to develop. I’d favour a return to an old style reserves league without age limitations – if you’re old enough and all that.

    Finally my comment about ‘entertainment’ was specifically aimed at those who excuse under performance by claiming we play some morally superior football that is above winning and all that nonsense. In particular because as a lad in the 70’s my Sp*rs supporting friends used to use the same argument to denigrate Arsenal’s superior record of winning titles – “but we play better football” they would say. As if that was more important. So when I hear similar Arsenal fans (not necessarily on this site) it feels like they are trying to turns us into Sp*rs clones. Which when you consider that the current Spurs side bears more than a passing resemblance to GG’s early sides (even to the point of the big man up front topping the scoring charts) makes the whole world seem like it’s turning inside out 🙁

  9. “There’s this myth that because players are earning fortunes they can do what they want. I disagree. Most players, most people in fact, want to be led. Now, because they are strong financially you have to be even stronger.”

    And Wenger’s softly, softly approach is right at the heart of this. Keown’s story of Wenger not wanting to use video of players’ match performances for fear of upsetting them demonstrates his unwillingness to face off against players. I think this is also an issue in coaching, as young players need to be developed rather than simply being expected to turn up and do the job.

  10. Godday,

    Next game is NLD. Surely the mad hatter (Which I think now is quite fitting) can’t play Sánchez and Özil again?

    Surely the idea of playing players who no longer wants to play for AFC (the Ox vs pool, anyone?) is scrapped as it’s quite clear that it’s a pretty piss poor idea and should not be tried again.

    Maybe accept that this season is already gone and give room for youth. Sell Özil, Sánchez, Walcott in the January window. Make way for low expectations and give Maitland Niles, Nelson, Willock etc a fair shot at taking the step up to the first team.

    I would enjoy that. Infinitely more than watching our so called stars and big names getting their pants pulled down by most teams with a little hunger, physical play and some tactics.

  11. Andy @ 2:36

    Please forgive my tongue in cheek and quite deliberate pretence at misunderstanding what you said. 😀

    In fact my actual comment was almost exactly in accord with what you were saying regarding George’s team of the late 1980s and early 1990s. They certainly were entertaining and winning.

    My views of the later years could simply have been the – ‘score the goals and pile ’em high’ – attitude of the younger me, because after 1992 I’m sure we scored many fewer goals that we had previously been used to seeing Arsenal scoring, despite signing a brilliant goal scorer in Wrighty.

    Anyway my reason for pulling your leg was to take the opportunity to talk about an Arsenal of yester year with all the legitimate nostalgia involved.

    So, please accept both my apologies, and my thanks, Andy, for a trip back to my younger days when the world and Arsenal football were very different, and without the taint of foreign capitalism.

    I happen to think — and this might sound outrageous (unless I have said it previously) — that Gorgeous George was one of the best managers we have ever had in recent times, and I liked the dude too — (Herbert Chapman was probably brilliant, but a little before my time). 😀
    And it was a pity for GG that things ended the way they did, especially him going to manage the Spuds.

  12. HenryB,

    Spot on, the interesting thing about say Le Coq for instance is that Hayden was just making his way through playing and featuring as both a CB and DM and that December/January when it was clear Le Coq was on his way out, Arteta picked up that knock then Hayden and then Le Coq stepped in (in memory serves correctly) and there went Hayden’s chance and LeCoq stepped up and played well.

    Fast forward and Hayden was sold to Newcastle where he was WIDELY praised as one of the signings of the season in the Championship last season and has received loads of praise for continuing it in the PL as one of the first names on Benetiz’s team sheet. Luck played a major part and if we are honest, Hayden looked all but set to be the first choice DM while also Captaining those England youth sides. Shame really because he has turned into quite a player while LeCoq has seemingly gone the other way.

    I do think that luck plays a major part in young players as well as them being afforded the opportunity to perform. I know that Arsene has been known for giving his young players opportunities, but I think that is more myth than anything if we really take a look. Playing them in the early League Cup matches is something that you see from ALL top sides across Europe on a regular basis, playing them in the early rounds of the FA Cup is the same from top 6 sides in the PL. I think the biggest difference is that you see clubs like Chelsea, Manure and even Citeh giving more of their youth opportunities in the PL but surrounding them with quality senior players. For instance, for all the talk of Citeh spending loads of money, I wonder how many people have realized that since Dzeko and Balotelli left, Citeh have bought in the likes of Bony but Iheanacho was their #2 to Aguero and he JUST turned 21 years old this year but between 2015-2017 he had 40+ appearances for Citeh with quite a few of them coming in the PL during the spells that Aguero was out. Think about Rashford UNDER Mourinho, or the Spuds side, hell even Liverpool and Chelsea.

    Arsene giving the youth the most opportunities in the first team, I think its a myth that went out the door the day that Cesc, Nasri and even RvP left.

    Lucky, fate, talent those are the things that help youth. I mean even some of the best but the real shame and thing I have the biggest problem with is the whole, “see I told you they weren’t good enough” thing that gets thrown around when a player doesn’t make it. For instance, Afobe, he was a star in the making and banging goals in for fun until he lost form during the end of the season at Bournemouth yet we are told, “see he wasn’t good enough” but he is still going to have a long career playing futbol so in all actuality he has made it on the first team of a PL side and will have a long career.

  13. Welsh corgi cardigan,

    Based on that then what do you do with Jack and Ramsey as both players are either out of contract this summer or next and Jack has spoken about keeping his options open and Ramsey hasn’t said fuck all?

    What about the likes of Kos who has openly talked about playing in France again or say Bellerin who flirted with Barca or visa versa.

    I don’t think its as simple as not wanting to play for Arsenal or not committing to Arsenal, I think its more what will Arsene and Arsenal do next because as GG said, its clear things aren’t changing and they aren’t working so whats the point?

    As a supporter I will continue to support for now and more than likely for the rest of the time I watch futbol, but if Arsenal men like Keown, Henry, GG, Adams,and others who fought and bled for this club are openly talking about not coming back or not understanding why things are the way they are and are not looking likely to change then how are the players who play and train expected to think things are going to change with the infrastructure that is currently in place? I mean surely players looked at the team sheet against Citeh like they did at Liverpool and wonder WTF was going on and why Lacazette wasn’t in the first XI.

    I’m not defending Ozil or Sanchez but I have found it pretty funny that people are saying don’t play them because they haven’t committed but there are others that haven’t committed and are probably questioning WTF is going on at the club and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Hope that makes some sense and its just the ramblings of a rather naive futbol supporter.. 😉

  14. Great post Yogi

    I spend a lot of time talking and debating about younger players but Arsene is absolutely correct and even C will agree that the jump between youth leagues and the PL is gigantic and to much for almost all of the youth players to make. What that means is you can’t take the players performances in our youth teams at face value because it really over estimates their ability to be top flight players and that is even more true with our team. The way our youth teams play really emphasizes technical skill and they are very well drilled in the pass and move approach and we can run circles around inexperienced and less talented defenders. The other issue is that defensive organization and solidarity are not emphasized nearly as much in the academy leagues. We all know that when the team as a whole plays well that can falsely elevate the appearance of every player on the team. Unfortunately that technical skill and tactical advantage our players have in youth league does not translate to an advantage when the defensive players get better and better and the opposition defenses become more and more organized.

  15. I could not agree more, C, especially re Hayden (whom we both rated) and Afobe who as a kid even attracted the likes of Real.

    Staying at Arsenal and being given a decent number of games, would perhaps have allowed both Hayden and Afobe to be leading lights in todays first team roster.

    In any event, both are going to earn a few bucks in their careers and good luck to them.

    As far as Arsene/Arsenal are concerned, I agree the ‘we give kids the best chance of first team football’ is rather gilding the lily — unusually for us there are two ex-youth players in the squad/team at the moment, Hector and Iwobi. But that does not seem like a plan to me — Bellerin benefitted from injuries to Debouchy and Jenks, while Iwobi got his break as a result of the injuries to Cazorla and Jack.

    Planned? I think not, altho both have played pretty well for us, if one is being fair to them.

  16. Bill,

    I sort of understand what you are saying — but remember — all top players were once youth players, so dismissing the development of youth is a mistake.

    If you are pointing the finger at Arsenal, rather than making a comment about the generalité of clubs, that might be a little different, but, if you are right, that is more likely to be down to the selection of kids at an early age which has not been good enough at Arsenal, when compared with City, Chelsea and Manure.

    Maybe that is why Liam Brady and then Yonkers left?

  17. The chasm between the youth team and the first teams is just as big in almost all of the Europes top leagues. In this decade how many of the big teams are producing their own difference making players? Big teams need results and if they need a new player they can buy one who is already experienced. No one would dispute that giving high leverage first team minutes to a younger player like Nik Bendtner who might not be as good as we think and who will almost certainly be inconsistent and potentially make mistakes makes it harder to get results. You can’t afford the opportunity cost that comes with giving all of those high leverage minutes to a player like Ox or Nik Bendtner who might not ever really come good for your team no matter how patient you are. You could argue the system unfairly stacks the deck against the younger players but it is what it is and that will not change for as long as the big teams have the money to buy experienced players and they want to win.

  18. Henry

    Football is a game that favors the defense. It is very hard to score against and organized defense and it gets harder and harder to break down defenses as you move further up the ladder because defenses get more organized. Attacking players with flair and technical skill who are well drilled have a much bigger advantage when they play in the lower levels. I don’t know the stats but I am confident the number of goals/game goes progressively down as you move up the ladder especially when you jump to the PL. The advantage our attacking players have disappears as they face defenders who are smarter and have seen all of the tricks and team defenses who are able to stay organized and not get pulled out of position by our pass and move tactical ethos. It causes us to over rate our younger attacking players. Its not just Arsenal and the same is true in every team and every league in the world.

  19. Henry

    I can understand why you and C love watching the youth league players and games because all the technical skill and passing and movement that you both love actually works a lot more often in those games. Those same elegant things you enjoy are much less likely to be effective against a better defense.

  20. C,

    Evening C,

    Makes very much sense (if there’s any rambling it’s most likely on me. I did the mistake of rewatching the mancity game). Probably a fair bit of frustration bubbling over here after last game. Sánchez performance was every bit as poor as the Ox vs lpool. The physical equivalent of the Dutch skunks letter.

    There’s so much more understanding and patience when it comes Wilshere or Ramsey. Yes, they may leave and fair play to them if they so decide. They are Arsenal players and have been through periods of severe injury problems and will maybe not reach the levels that many of us expected and hoped. But they have never downed tools or shied away from responsibility.

    In fact I think Ramsey is one of the bravest player we have. Who never goes missing, hides or shies away from responsibility.

    Yes, we have a far from ideal situation with a terrible owner, a manager way passed his best and a powerless board. It’s stagnation and as you say, filters down to the players. Scary times indeed.

    But maybe we will see some of the youth players having a break through season🙂.

  21. Bill,

    I cannot dismiss what you say, of course, but the point I was making was not that — it was a simple statement — ‘experienced, talented players were once inexperienced, young talented players’ – unless they are given that experience we might as well all find another sport, like cricket, rugby, F1 Racing, NFL, etc — oh, wait, I already watch those sports too, I am obviously eclectic in my tastes. 😀

  22. Young players become experienced by playing on the smaller all around the world and then the big teams can spend huge amounts to buy the ones that are really good enough to make an impact on a big team. That way the big teams don’t have to suffer thru the “inconsistency of youth stages” and they won’t waste years and precious high leverage minutes on someone like nick bendtner who never comes good.

  23. Henry.

    The system might not be fair for younger players but the other day you had a nice comment that winning is by far the most important thing for a football club. Trying to give top flight experience to your own younger players and winning are to some degree competing goals. We can’t have it both ways.

  24. HenryB,

    Yup, I wonder how Hayden would have turned out, I know people will say things like he was given the chance but fail to remember that he got injured and was out the 2nd half of that season and all of the summer before heading off to loan.

    Agree, good luck to both of them especially Hayden who looks like he has the makings of a really good DM in the PL.

    Couldn’t agree more about the whole, ‘we give youth….’ thing. I mean Bellerin and Iwobi, it doesn’t explain why a player like Toral doesn’t get a look when we are not only devastated with injuries in midfield but nobody has put themselves to the point that they are undroppable. If that was the case then we should be bossing midfields. I agree, Bellerin and Iwobi have done well especially considering their lack of coaching and the fact that both are in an unstable team with little direction.

    It will be interesting moving forward but I feel we have seen the last of a couple of youth players in Martinez through loan and Adealaide through injury. I mean, Malen is doing pretty well for Wolfsburg, shame we let him go.

  25. Welsh corgi cardigan,

    I think that’s the thing, Sanchez was poor and yes Ozil wasn’t the Ozil that we all know he could be but at least he tried and put in a couple of tackles and still looked like he gave a shit at the end of the match.

    That’s the problem for me, I can’t really blame Ozil and Sanchez for not being here during bad periods because well they were elsewhere plain and simple. Jack and Ramsey, my issue with them is different; its the fact that there is hope but Ramsey is thought of by some as a future captain and top player yet he might be brave but brave isn’t good enough, brave is what you want from mid-table players and his inconsistencies are maddening. For instance, you re-watched the Citeh match, I blame two people for the opening goal, Ramsey and Cech; Ramsey for letting De Bruyne just stand their and decide what he wanted to do before making a simple pass around him which Ramsey should of tracked but didn’t and then Cech for being meh. Jack I think his injury history is what has done him in but and through no fault of his own, we continue to wait for him instead of buying quality and then having Jack as a luxury.

    Yup, manager, BoD and owner all past it and it has caused stagnation at a club that if any of those 3 were to change its fortunes would change but we sit and wait.

    The youth have shown well including Maitland-NIles, Nelson, Macey and I am really excited for the return of Bielik.

  26. C

    We can always buy Hayden back if he turns out to be as good as you think. That way we don’t have to struggle thru his inexperienced first couple of years and we won’t have to take the risk of using him for a couple of years only to find out that he really never was that good.

  27. Lee Dixon said:

    They are very good with the ball and pretty poor without the ball – and you don’t win anything like that.

    “You nick a cup but don’t challenge for the big honours if the balance is wrong.

    “I honestly think after the FA Cup, after that amazing performance against Chelsea, it was time for him to go: ‘you know what, I am going to step back from it’.

    “I am a big fan of his. I played for six years under him. I like the man as a human being and what he did when I was there was brilliant for me.

    “He had a structure and he brought all that flair on top of what we did as a defence. But the mentality has changed.

    “It has flicked into a more attack-minded, less defensive-minded team, and the balance is all wrong.”

  28. C

    I know this subject is very dear to your heart and that often tends to cloud ones judgement. If you take the emotion of the equation then I suspect you would acknowledge there is some logic behind my ideas.

  29. Breaking News!!! Breaking News!!!

    Mesut Ozil, “I could sign a new contract with Arsenal but only if I’m given Jack Wilshire’s No. 10 shirt”.

    More to follow…….or not, as the case may be.

  30. It’ll be interesting to see if as the season progresses and he doesn’t get any offers how his demands might drop significantly. We could end up with him outside a tube station wearing a placard stating “Will work for the #10 shirt and a Big Mac” 😜

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