Time To Protect Our Youngsters? By Dan Smith
I don’t want to be contradictory. On one hand we encourage clubs to give youth a chance and I feel Arsenal are one of the best at doing it. Yet I fear we may be overdoing it and we could be in danger of damaging our youngsters.
Arsene Wenger would use the League Cup for the kids to get a chance, then loans would be planned as part of their development to see if they had the mentality to deal with what comes from being in the first team every week.
The likes of Reiss Nelson, Saka, Willock, etc all have high reputations for what they showed in the underage groups. All have shown they have the talent but that does not guarantee they have the mindset to be in a side where there is pressure to perform every week. Ideally you blood new faces in gradually, bring them into a winning team, where they can play with confident teammates, in front of a happy fanbase.
At times Willock has been picked ahead of Ozil and recently Saka seems to have jumped ahead of Pepe in the pecking order. That’s the equivalent of throwing them into the deep end. I would go as far as saying it’s the worst period in our recent history to be going down this route.
They have barely any leaders to look up to, the Emirates is toxic, meaning they play it safe out of fear of trying something and getting it wrong, and they have got no one to help them because even those more experienced are worried about their own form. We could be in danger of ruining these kids’ confidence at a time when we should be protecting them.
There are zero guarantees we will qualify for Europe next year; we are looking for a new manager, and currently we are under pressure to earn a first League win since 6th October, two months ago.
Of course, this could be having an impact on the self-belief of teenagers. Naturally gooners are going to be more supportive of those who grew up at the club, everyone wants one of their own to succeed. Yet if someone is being picked ahead of your 72 million record signing and then produces zero end product, there’s going to be a spotlight on that individual.
Freddie of course knows a lot of these graduates personally from their time together in the Under 23’s, so he will know where they are at in their head? He also knows though the pressure of wearing the shirt.
I think the time is for the majority of these youngsters to take some time out of the fire, I include Guendouzi in that. This is a crucial period for us. At the moment we need results to try and save our season.
We are no longer good enough to take anything for granted home or away. We are not in a position where we can pat ourselves on the back for giving out opportunities. I think the time has come to field as much experience as possible and go back to basics.
No matter your opinion we still boast senior players who for years have played at the highest level, In World Cups, in major finals, etc. It should be left to them to get us out of this pickle not those who should be gradually being introduced.
I’m looking at these young men and feel really sorry for them, they are being badly let down at the moment.
It’s time to protect them…