One life, one game, one team, one invincibles

One life, one game, one team, one Invincibles (So far)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Arsenal: To B or not to B in a B team

You would have to imagine that a number of top Clubs in England, other than just Arsenal, must be in the same development 'Catch 22'. They develop some fine home-grown players, in fact they develop many quality home grown players, all good enough to represent their respective countries at various levels. But then they all reach an age where they have to be farmed to lower league clubs where they either sit on a bench or in some cases get to watch a ball sail over their head if they play. If they do get to play they may also endure some wham-bam-thank-you-mam blood and thunder footie in order to survive the respective league where they attempt to ply their trade. Essentially if they can survive a good kicking by holding their own at a lower they may make progress. This has nothing to do with technical ability or skills. My belief is that they're far less likely to develop world class technique in such an environment and that even acquired technical skills may regress. Or they might not develop further because training is at a lower technical level to that received at Arsenal and standards lower.

Good enough for England under 21's

Elsewhere, Spain for example, the Villareal and Barca youngsters are still trained in house and compete for the B teams of their respective Clubs in Spain's Segunda Division. That in itself is no guarantee of their development but the training control is still retained by the Club. At the very least the skills required to develop players hoping to progress to their top teams and national sides are the minimal standard that is aimed for. There has to be no decision at age 19, 20, 21 or 22 as to whether they go or stay. They can be retained by the club and make progress with their B teams. For England's top Clubs to progress, for England's top youngsters to progress and ultimately for English football on a national level to progress I feel we need to go down this road in England. The logic of Arsenal's youth's gaining experience in League football is undeniable, so why shouldn't they do it as a team?

Retain, sell, loan?

If a decent young player such as Henri Lansbury who is good enough for the England under 21's but only good enough for Fat Sam's bench is to progress he needs the opportunity to thrive at Club level. That Club should be Arsenal because they'll do a far better job than the battering-ram approach of Fat Sam. But that team could be Arsenal B because although it doesn't have to be Arsenal's first team it should at least be at a higher level than our reserves and a less random level than to a loan Club where he may or may not get a game. There should be no need to make a choice now on Lansbury's future based on guesswork as to his future potential. We shouldn't have to gamble on him going or staying because he's hit a specific age group where we have a fixed quota.

Lansbury is just a random example but we all know he's certainly good enough to make a career in football, we know he has sound technique because he's come through the Arsenal Youth system, we know he's good enough to represent his country through the various age groups. But we don't know yet if he'll merely be another decent Premiership/Championship player or one good enough to fight for a place in a top Champions League team. He should have the chance to find out without going on loan or being sold. Arsenal should have the chance to develop players in a league set up using a satellite Club as the basis for developing future English International players. Why is there no Arsenal B team allowed in the league set up? And why couldn't Arsenal take over a Club such as Northampton and use it as a development Club? Rules prevent it but the rules make no logical sense.

Fat Sam bench warmer

Arsenal Lite if you like playing against Manchester United Lite, Chelsea Lite, Liverpool Lite or whoever but in a lower league division could well be the way forward for English football. Not the reserve league, not a youth league but real league football. It seems such an obvious and logical idea that I can't see why no one in the Premiership appears to be pressing for it. Why indeed the likes of Sir Trevor Brooking isn't pressing for it. Surely even the finances would make sense in that a Club, such as Northampton (I'm only using them as a random example) would benefit from a sound financial base such as Arsenal, a massive international fan base and a steady flow of highly talented players.

So why not?

Brian Dawes @Gooner48

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