Arsenal used to be famous for promoting youngsters to the first team squad, especially in the years when we were struggling to pay off the debts from the building of the Emirates, and Arsene Wenger did extremely well in teaching our kids in the ‘Arsenal Way’ so that they slotted seamlessly into the Gunners first team.
Lately, although we have been spending much larger sums on the transfer market buying readymade stars, our League position has actually been deteriorating, and it would now appear that the Arsenal heirarchy are keen to get back to Wenger’s youth policy and would like a manager that will be happy to do that. When he was discussing the criteria for Wenger’s replacement yesterday, he said: “We have to go through that process. There is another value which I didn’t talk about which is young players. Our academy teams are doing extremely well and under the radar we have got a lot of players coming through into our first team, not just ones that you already know about but the next generation as well. So that value of giving youth a chance is also very important to the football club.
“I think we have got to be open-minded and also brave in the decision. When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar screens. That doesn’t mean we have to make another appointment that not everybody is thinking about and talking about but it does mean we need to be bold and get the person we believe is the right person.”
It is true that our reserves won the Second Division of the U23’s League, and the U18s came second to Chelsea, and we have seen some promising displays already by players like Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but to be honest we will still need to buy some ready made stars soon, especially in defence, or we are surely only going to drop even further behind our rivals.