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Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy


Think on

By Eduardo
June 24 2013

Arsene Wenger has been a big advocate for Arsenal’s expenditure on the Academy, many times bestowing the virtues of having young players brought through the Academy system to the first team.  He has stated that there are many plus factors for having players in our first team squad who have been at the club from a young age.

Arsenal's Academy Success or Failure or Somewhere In-between?

Wenger believes there is the loyalty factor, - if you engrain them in the club then they are less likely to scuttle off at the first sign of extra riches, the player is also more likely to put up longer with a squad role than seeking pastures new for first team football, when a young player steps up to the first team from the youth ranks he will already know the style and system, - we play the same 4-2-3-1 formation all the way through the club’s teams, we play the same passing style of game too all the way through.  I really don’t think any reasonable person will find fault with the theory of why producing your own players is a good thing.

 

What Arsenal Hope To Achieve With the Academy

Wenger has on a few occasions set out what he sees the role of the Academy when it comes to providing talent for the first team.  As mentioned earlier in the article he of course hopes it provides talented players engrained in the club and with a love for the club, that will make it easier to hold on to them and that these players can seamlessly slot into the team style and system.  But he has explained that the aim is to have much more to it than that. 

 

Many Gooners either missed it or failed to understand Wenger’s explanation of what Arsenal hope our Academy will provide the first team with, not only now but into the future.  He wants the squad to eventually be full of home produced players. 

 

Wenger has explained that the utopian aim if you like is that the Academy will not only provide first choice stars of our first team but actually cut out the need to sign squad players, and by so doing mean that all monies available for strengthening the first team can be spent on super super-quality players and new contracts for those we most want to keep.  Wenger has stated that it would mean signing only one or maybe two of the very best players available every season, the Academy provides the rest.

 In essence Wenger envisages a time when our Academy will over any four or five year period produce Three, four or five quality first choice players for our starting 11 and at the same time produce at least another six or seven squad men for the Gunners’ 25 man squad.  On the squad men produced, its hoped that the way it would work is that as older squad men or the impatient younger ones depart the next batch replace them.  The first real decision point would be the 21 year old age bracket involved in the rules of the 25 man FAPL rules.

 

What’s Needed To Achieve This?

There are many things needed to achieve such lofty aims. 

Facilities, top coaches, good scouting, quality players, a manager who fully backs the ethos, the opportunity and lots of luck.

Well one thing not lacking at Arsenal is the facilities. Arsenal have an ultra modern training complex at Shenley (London Colney),  it not only houses the first team but the older sections of the Academy.  There is also have the Hale End Academy, which is right up there with any schoolboy football Academy in the world.  Add in the satellite training centres, football camps/schools and of course the club’s partnerships all over the world and few can argue that there is nothing lacking in our Academy facilities.

 

I’m going to skip on to our manager, opportunity and luck.  Well we would from the outset seem to have a manager who fully backs the ethos, after all he is the main architect of the ethos in the first place, the Hale End Academy in its present guise and the London Colney training Centre were driven by Wenger, yet some argue that he only talks the good talk when it comes to giving youth a real chance in the first team. 

 

I’m of the opinion that Wenger will give his young players a chance if he thinks they are good enough, and that we have the right opportunity to do so, and that is the key; most who complain fail to recognise how hard it is for clubs outside of mid-table teams to take the risk on giving youth a chance.  It’s all well and good giving a kid a chance in the League Cup or even the FA Cup or in dead rubber CL games, but if you are in a fight for the league, or even top four, just as it is if you are in a relegation battle, it’s harder to find the opportunity to blood the youth.

 Yes of course if the lad really stands out like Cesc did, or Jack does then it’s easier, or I should say it’s less of a risk.  This is where opportunity and luck comes into it, they have to show in the lesser cup games they have something special and then be lucky enough to make the most of the limited opportunities they get there after. 

 

Many ask why we shuttle so many youths out on loan, most never to be seen in an Arsenal first team ever again.  Well its simple really, we do it for a few reasons, one is that very few are good enough to jump straight from youth teams into the first team on a regular basis, and they need experience, game time, and to be battle hardened, and loans are a good way of achieving all those things.  A second major reason for a loan is so the club can without risk to themselves see how the lad handles proper grown up football where the result matters.  It’s a proving ground, and if our young loanee cannot impress at a lower level club then why on God’s green Earth should anyone expect him to be given a run in Arsenal’s first team. 

There are others reasons why Arsenal loan out players too, the need for a work permit, needs game time after injury or very simply we know he isn’t good enough for us and we want to better his chances of making a career in the game, as we surely owe any of our Academy players as much help in getting a new club as we can give them.

I’m now going to finish this section with a bit about the remaining three key factors needed to achieve our aims.  Scouting, Coaching and the Players.

Arsenal has one of the most extensive scouting networks in world football.  There has been some complaints that our scouts are not doing a good enough job as many believe the players we have and especially those brought in from abroad are not making enough of an impact, even at youth level.

 I disagree, yes he club have not found a Messi or a Ronaldo of our own yet, but then there are only one of each.  Our first team squad last season contained Szczesny, Gibbs, Wilshere, Walcott and Ramsey, as regular starters, and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jenkinson as regular squad men, all highly skilled young players, all full Internationals and all with the potential to get even better, add in that our squads in the past found Cesc and Anelka amoung others,  and it can be rightly argued that they can spot talent. 

One last thing on our scouting, I do not believe that there is any truth in the notion that we sign up lots of foreign youths because Steve Rowley gets a bonus for every pro contract given to Academy produced players, and that due to nearly all foreign players coming in on the basis that they are certain to be offered at least a one year pro deal at the age of 17, Rowley stands to make much more money by approving their purchase, ahead of giving pro deals to Hale End boys. 

The whole corruption theory falls apart when you take into consideration that Liam Brady is Head of the Academy and has much more of a say in who gets Academy deals than Rowley has, and also Wenger has even more of a say in the foreign signings than Rowley, but there are some little Englanders out there in blog world who want to blacken Arsenal’s name, even if they don’t want to blacken Arsenal per say.

 

So then we go on to the players.  If as I say the scouts are good enough, does this mean the players have to be too.  Well the simple answer is no they are not certain to be good enough, yes if we sign on 10 first year scholars the vast majority of them clearly have the talent to make it all the way in the game, and the rest of them have the talent to make it as pro footballers at some level or another.  Let me assure you every kid who gets an Academy deal at Arsenal has the raw ingredients to become a pro player.  But it’s not all about talent.  Commitment, desire, aptitude, luck with injuries, being able to handle the pressure, in fact being able to handle adult football, all comes in to it. 

 

Any of you guys who played football to any decent youth level, even say district teams, will know what I mean when I say we have all seen lads at 14, 15 who looked like they would conquer the footballing world, only for them to never progress and be gone from the game by the age of 17 or 18, for a variety of reasons. 

 

So that leaves us with only one thing left to consider in this section, the standard of our coaching at youth level, and that is where we will begin part 2 of Arsenal Academy Focus, also under review will be what changes we can expect at the Academy, What the Youth Player Cull means and my view on the question asked at the beginning of the article – Success, Failure, or something in-between

End of Part 1

Part 2 click link below text box

 

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Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
Arsenal Times (IP Logged)
24/06/2013 13:28
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2013:07:08:18:38:49 by Padre Pio.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
Merlion96 (IP Logged)
24/06/2013 14:31
1996/96 to 2016/17:

That is we will know by 2016/17 whether Arsene Wenger had laid the foundation for self-sustainable development from Hale End Academy to senior squad.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
Jack_is_the_truth (IP Logged)
24/06/2013 15:21
good job ed



http://giant.gfycat.com/DistantVastGuanaco.gif http://164.177.157.12/img/teams/13.png
The future is now!!!!!!!

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
weedz (IP Logged)
24/06/2013 23:49
Tanxs Ed, good read.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
RadioFreeArsenal (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 05:18
Gross over simplification.

Youth development is the most unpredictable aspect in any sport.

At each successive age or seniority or skill level several players who were projected as can't-miss talents at each previous level will do exactly that - miss. And there will always be a player or two expected to fail at each successive player who beats the odds and advances onward ultimately to success even top success at the top of professional sport or in this case football.

Every top coach and every top player can name at least one player they thought would go much further than they did and one player they never expected to be playing with at this level years earlier.

Can you do a better or worse job developing youth players? Absolutely. But there is no science to it no exact formula that works every time or even almost every time.

This is why relying so heavily as we appear to have on developing youth as the cornerstone of any competitive success we were going to have after 2006 was doomed to fail and I was saying this in the fall of 2005.

The problem isn't we couldn't develop a single Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but we couldn't develop the ten or twelve players we were counting on developing for the first team to be more successful and those who did get through have yet to fulfill their potential or worse yet have fulfilled that potential.

But this idea always was fatally flawed unless you maintained much stronger first teamto integrate them into than we clearly were willing to..

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
Bergmars (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 05:39
Good read Ed your right youth turnover is high and a minute percentage make the grade.



A shadow of what we were

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
Philly the kid (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 07:29
Quote:
RadioFreeArsenal
Gross over simplification.
Youth development is the most unpredictable aspect in any sport.

At each successive age or seniority or skill level several players who were projected as can't-miss talents at each previous level will do exactly that - miss. And there will always be a player or two expected to fail at each successive player who beats the odds and advances onward ultimately to success even top success at the top of professional sport or in this case football.

Every top coach and every top player can name at least one player they thought would go much further than they did and one player they never expected to be playing with at this level years earlier.

Can you do a better or worse job developing youth players? Absolutely. But there is no science to it no exact formula that works every time or even almost every time.

This is why relying so heavily as we appear to have on developing youth as the cornerstone of any competitive success we were going to have after 2006 was doomed to fail and I was saying this in the fall of 2005.

The problem isn't we couldn't develop a single Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but we couldn't develop the ten or twelve players we were counting on developing for the first team to be more successful and those who did get through have yet to fulfill their potential or worse yet have fulfilled that potential.

But this idea always was fatally flawed unless you maintained much stronger first teamto integrate them into than we clearly were willing to..

Hasn't failed though, has it.
Sczczcz
Gibbsy
Jenks (new arrival, but he's a gooner, so he'll be staying for the very reasons ed states above).
Wilshere
Ox
Walcott

Not sure if Theo counts either tbf. But, and it's a big but (hah, big butts) we have a young core of English lads who are ready to do their bit for the first team. Considering how many people used to moan about us having no English players, that's quite a turnaround.
You only said it's failed because you can't bring yourself to agree with Ed, didn't you Radio?!

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
tigerline (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 12:49
Quote:
Philly the kid
Quote:
RadioFreeArsenal
Gross over simplification.
Youth development is the most unpredictable aspect in any sport.

At each successive age or seniority or skill level several players who were projected as can't-miss talents at each previous level will do exactly that - miss. And there will always be a player or two expected to fail at each successive player who beats the odds and advances onward ultimately to success even top success at the top of professional sport or in this case football.

Every top coach and every top player can name at least one player they thought would go much further than they did and one player they never expected to be playing with at this level years earlier.

Can you do a better or worse job developing youth players? Absolutely. But there is no science to it no exact formula that works every time or even almost every time.

This is why relying so heavily as we appear to have on developing youth as the cornerstone of any competitive success we were going to have after 2006 was doomed to fail and I was saying this in the fall of 2005.

The problem isn't we couldn't develop a single Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but we couldn't develop the ten or twelve players we were counting on developing for the first team to be more successful and those who did get through have yet to fulfill their potential or worse yet have fulfilled that potential.

But this idea always was fatally flawed unless you maintained much stronger first teamto integrate them into than we clearly were willing to..

Hasn't failed though, has it.
Sczczcz
Gibbsy
Jenks (new arrival, but he's a gooner, so he'll be staying for the very reasons ed states above).
Wilshere
Ox
Walcott

Not sure if Theo counts either tbf. But, and it's a big but (hah, big butts) we have a young core of English lads who are ready to do their bit for the first team. Considering how many people used to moan about us having no English players, that's quite a turnaround.
You only said it's failed because you can't bring yourself to agree with Ed, didn't you Radio?!

Did Ox spend any time at all in our youth system?

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
hacomon1945 (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 13:00
Quote:
Arsenal Times
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.

you mean the acadimy where you nicked from other clubs apart from adams cole wilshire who else as come through interested to know and how many brits you have in there

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
RadioFreeArsenal (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 15:29
Tiger it has failed in terms of producing the needed quality and number of quality players though,given that we were told the academy was being conted on to do - buildthe core of trophy-winning teams or teams that genuinely competed for trophies.

If you do no sell off the Invincibles or replace them as cheaply or inadequately as we consistently have done since the summer of 2005(the summer of 2004 really when you think about it) then your argument that the academy has succeeded might hold water.

In other words if all the expectations of being able to compete for silverware this way were lies then yes its been a success. But that isn't the context in which the academy and youth policy and its success were presented to us really.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
tigerline (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 15:36
Quote:
RadioFreeArsenal
Tiger it has failed in terms of producing the needed quality and number of quality players though,given that we were told the academy was being conted on to do - buildthe core of trophy-winning teams or teams that genuinely competed for trophies.
If you do no sell off the Invincibles or replace them as cheaply or inadequately as we consistently have done since the summer of 2005(the summer of 2004 really when you think about it) then your argument that the academy has succeeded might hold water.

In other words if all the expectations of being able to compete for silverware this way were lies then yes its been a success. But that isn't the context in which the academy and youth policy and its success were presented to us really.

Please re-direct your post to its intended target.
It was NOT me.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
eduardo (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 15:36
quote Philly

You only said it's failed because you can't bring yourself to agree with Ed, didn't you Radio?!



disingenuous is nothing if not predictable Philly, you should know that by now



*Signing Ozil is a signing Bergkamp type moment for Arsenal. It changes things utterly.*

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
eduardo (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 15:42
Darren ‏@DarrenArsenal1 2h

RT @RYO_cleverfish: RT @DeanAFC1989 Have heard Ricky Duncan and Luke Hobbs (both from Southend) are to join Arsenal as U16 and U15 coaches.



*Signing Ozil is a signing Bergkamp type moment for Arsenal. It changes things utterly.*

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 18:35
I think it would be wise to read the second part, which is now up, before making overarching statements.
I would like to thank Ed for such a knowledgeable and comprehensive piece of writing.



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
RadioFreeArsenal (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 18:53
I don't think anyone is is making an overarching conclusion here Padre.

I think there are arguments both ways and their validity rests on the context of our emphasis on developing our own players since 2005 and what it was expected to result in.

I also think you have to look at the whole concept of youth development and the numbers associated with it. Eddy himself once headlined a thread with his shock that only 2% of academy players in English football have gone onto what are considered genuine proesssional careers in professional football.

I am not because as I noted above player development is not an exact science or guaranteed operation. Players who cannot fail will fail and sooner than expected with alarming regularity (if you are a coach or manager) and less often but still plenty of times players you expect to fail at each new step will succeed.

You simply cannot count on your youth system developing that many professional players of the quality needed to compete for and win major silverware at any club any where.

So we have developed plenty of players but have we developed the players we need to develop and have developed enough of those players? and can we? Can Anybody? That's the real question.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 19:09
Ive nothing against overarching conclusions i just feel its better to wait for second part and then to make them



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
RadioFreeArsenal (IP Logged)
25/06/2013 19:33
Fair enougth my mistake.

I guess I just don'tthink there is much that could be done differently in terms odf developing youth,and that the real problem is we seem too reliant on that in our team-building.

 
Re: Success or Failure? Focus on the Academy
SandyB (IP Logged)
27/06/2013 05:41
It's a blunt failure no matter whatever the way you try to put it.
I've seen in my own eyes Arsenal academy U16 team in Lion's cup in Singapore.

They finished 4th out of 6 teams only above two local Singapore teams. They have lost to the champion Corinthians 2-0, Lost twice against Frnakfurt. Liam Brady's team was basically no match to teams like Corinhians, Frankfurt and PSV Eindhoven. Don't forget unlike other teams Arsenal had players from various nationalities. Even I saw local Arsenal fans wearing Arsenal shirt were cheering for Corinthians lads as they play much organized, skilled system which is easily distinguishable.


I think the point which isn't covered in this article and the most vital one for academy based footballer development is it's not the hype but it's the separation of glamour of Arsenal 1st team and focus of basic skill development of players at the tender age. Lack of understanding of what a footballer needs to achieve in their career and without drilling them wouldn't result success to academy.

In fact I don't even buy the argument that lack of 1st team opportunity coz of important league position has anything to do with running a world class football factory.

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