By Kieran Lovelock,
It’s not often that I stand up for the French but this time I can’t help it.
The two biggest problems English soccer currently faces is the £3.4 billion ($5bn) worth of debt amongst the Premiership clubs, in addition to the millions more in the lower leagues, and the sheer inability of their young players to play with their heads up. The two things that Arsene Wenger is renowned for as a manager is ensuring that his club lives within its means and developing young players with an emphasis of high quality touch, technique and awareness.
Therefore imagine how better off the English game would be had they given Wenger the keys fifteen years ago when wages started spiralling out of control and when managers started buying from abroad through the realization that young foreign players developed earlier than young English players.
The truth is that Arsene Wenger (photo) should not be berated by anyone in English football but instead his philosophies should be focused on, embraced, studied and implemented.
Yes Wenger moans too much about his players getting roughed up by the ruggedness of inferior teams. But his gripes are only line with his philosophy and his view on the game will always be on the whole more beneficiary in comparison to the likes of Sam Allardyce’s. For despite Allardyce’s rather elevated view of himself the reality is that long balls, long throws, free kicks and playing centre halves up front will never benefit the long term future of English soccer- whereas Wenger’s emphasis on a passing, free flowing style of play is the only thing for young English players to learn if they want to develop into Premiership and at international players.
How is a young player at Blackburn meant to learn how to keep possession of the ball when it is always up in the air? How is a twenty year old striker out of their academy going to get the chance to develop when central defender Chris Samba is preferred up front when first team numbers are low?
Sam Allardyce deserves praise for doing a good job wherever he goes, but he doesn’t care much for developing young players with Bolton’s Kevin Nolan being the only one that he has brought through with any real success. Instead he chooses to purchase middle aged, battled hardened, experienced pros who are able to fit into a rigid and old fashioned system rather than youngsters who know how to create something out of nothing and express themselves.
But, as Spain proved this summer, flair and technique will always overcome a rigid and physical style of play over a run of games and if England are to ever succeed on the international scene then Wenger’s philosophy simply must drummed into the heads of young English players as much as possible.
Away from events on the pitch, one astonishing piece of news that came out last week was the fact that Arsenal made a £56 million ($81m) before tax profit since the month of May. (What is particularly impressive about this from a business point of view is that this period largely co-insides with the off season where no revenue is brought in through ticket sales)
Consider then the fact that Arsenal finished third in the league last campaign averaging 2.1 goals a game whilst spending significantly less than everyone else and then making a profit post season, one could say they are huge achievers.
Therefore shouldn’t we give Wenger great praise for this? Rather than analyzing what he moans at, shouldn’t this debt ridden organization called the FA that has virtually no home grown players coming through look at exactly what Wenger has done to produce a club that regularly wins games with young players and concurrently turns over a profit?
Whatever you say about Wenger’s lack of trophies in recent years he has consistently produced a young, exciting, dynamic and successful team that is managed sensibly so that Arsenal’s long term future is eternally secure.
And during a time where numerous clubs stand on the verge of extinction, combined with a summer of sheer drudgery from the aged England national team, it’s fair to say that the FA shouldn’t be consigning Wenger to the stands like they did at Tottenham last week, but instead they should be inviting him into their office to sort everything out.