It feels like the storm surrounding Arsenal has been going on forever.
A lack of signings, a lack of investment, a seemingly disinterested owner and a prickly fan base, have been a constant feature whenever Arsenal are mentioned.
The final straw was the defeat to Chelsea in the Europa league final in Baku last term which magnified everything bad about Arsenal.
Since then, Arsenal have had a clear out, Chelsea are subject to a transfer ban, Sarri has cut his loses and jumped before he was pushed. Eden Hazard has jetted off to sunny Spain and club legend Frank Lampard has been appointed as coach.
Chelsea however, may have no choice but to dip into its reserves and accelerate their youngsters development in the best league in the world, where the stakes are always high.
Perhaps, Arsenal need to look in the mirror and gain a sense of self, because next season is going to be crucial to the club and if they can’t afford high profile players, they will need to utilise their existing assets.
Disappointingly, Cohen Bramall, Charlie Gilmour and Julio Plequezuelo have all been cast aside and after all the hype on the trio, one wonders if this was just a cost cutting exercise.
I’m really hoping that with Freddie Ljungberg’s elevation to the position of assistant manager, signals a fast track policy for the majority of the talented academy youngsters.
Names such as Osei-Tutu, Medley, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Sheaf, Nketiah, Amaechi, Coyle, Saka, Nelson and Smith Rowe are more than capable of making their mark, but are they trusted ?
The problem here is that Arsenal are so far behind the competition, that entrusting the immediate future to its academy stars is a risk, but it appears, Chelsea may have no choice but to embrace their youngsters in the absence of all other options.
It’s a topic that splits opinion, with some fans demanding their inclusion and others insisting it’s too early.
On that topic, it may be worth noting that Manchester United’s Sir Matt Busby, who probably had the most famous collection of youngster in the games history (The Busby Babes) was quoted as saying, “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough” which is written on the wall in United dressing room.
Ajax’s recent success and emergence from the shadows of world football, indicates that with the right collection of youngsters, anything is possible. The average age of an Ajax players is 22.9, but that hasn’t hindered their progression or ability to challenge for top honours, quite the reverse.
The success was examined in finite detail and concluded:
“It is not because of their (Ajax) innovative coaching, although that helps, or the wonderful facilities at the Toekomst Academy.”
“It is, according to John Heitinga (Under-19 coach of Ajax ) caused by something far more powerful, running through the heart of the club. The simple, pure idea that it is always better for to produce and improve their own players than buy them from outside.”
“We absolutely believe in our young players, that is the most important thing,”
“We want to give them a chance more than anything. Everything we do is designed to get as many players into the first team as possible. From the age of six or seven, that is what we are trying to work towards”
By contrast, Jose Mourinho had no trust in his youngsters at Chelsea loaning hoards of them to other clubs and whilst at Manchester United, he bemoaned a lack of maturity, referring to aspiring footballers as ‘brats’
“Today I call them ‘boys’ and not ‘men’. Because I think that they are brats and that everything that surrounds them does not help them in their life nor in my work. I had to adjust to all of that.”
“Ten years ago, no player had a mobile phone in the dressing room. That is no longer the case. But you have to go with it, because if you fight that you are bringing about conflict and you risk putting yourself in the stone age.”
Emery, Lampard and Solskjær have a massive season ahead and a betting man would say that at least one might not be in the post by the end of the campaign.
United have always developed its youngsters, but Arsenal and Chelsea have been slow to promote from the academy.
Arsenal have been blatantly guilty of using its youth system to flog on players and generate income, whereas Chelsea have made a fortune from loan deals. Under Mourinho, they had 33 players on loan which was openly questioned by some within the game.
The youngsters could make their names this season for their respective clubs whilst saving them a fortune in the process. Glory awaits, it’s just waiting for opportunities that is the problem.
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