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Xtratime's Head of Humour 2007
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thought i'd open this thread early becuase found this good article on it today.



Doing it for the kids




When Arsenal meet Manchester United on Wednesday, they will field a team full of youngsters. United will have a few but they have good reasons for giving some senior players a run, says Gabriele Marcotti



The League Cup is still the ugly stepsister of cup competition, but, when it serves up Manchester United v Arsenal, it’s at the very least an ugly stepsister with a body to die for and a fat trust fund. Wednesday’s clash is no exception.

Arsenal offer up a glimpse into a future – their future – a multi-national side packed with athletic, fleet-footed young men all of whom are exceedingly comfortable on the ball: it’s the first team writ small, and not even that small, as their League Cup wins over Manchester City and Everton proved.

Close your eyes, replace Edu with David Bentley – currently on loan at Norwich, where he’s getting regular first-team football – and the result is an Arsenal XI all of whose outfield players are 21 or younger and whose average age is just 19. If that’s the future, it’s scary, particularly when one considers that this group have made a grand total of three Premiership starts in an Arsenal shirt and that doesn’t include Cesc Fabregas, who is still just 17, and Jose Reyes, who won’t be 22 until January.

Had it not been for the fact that, back when he took over in 1996, Arsene Wenger inherited a ready-made English back four, it’s entirely possible that his spell at Highbury might have been even more laden with imports. In eight seasons in charge, Wenger has signed just four Englishmen: Sol Campbell, Jermaine Pennant, Richard Wright and Francis Jeffers. The fact that the latter two were duds and the jury is still out on Pennant, would seem to back his strategy of going foreign at every opportunity.

It’s a philosophy he has adopted in his youth team as well. Of the 12 youngsters who featured against Everton, only three – Pennant, Justin Hoyte and Ryan Smith – are English. Alongside them were two Swiss, two Dutchmen, an Italian, a Frenchman, an Irishman, a Swede and an American. The entire group cost less to assemble than half what Wenger paid for Jeffers, which means the Highbury brass are more than delighted with the result.

“We now have a group of kids just below the first team who are being groomed in the Arsenal way,” says Wenger. “I think in the next year or two you will see more and more kids come out of our youth ranks.”

Arsenal’s policy isn’t just smart business. It’s also a clever hedge against the perennially mooted possible change in Uefa rules, which would require club to feature a certain percentage of home-grown players in their 16-man team sheets.

It’s the next logical progression. Once upon a time, clubs used to scour the nation for young talent. United took a 16-year-old George Best from Belfast to Old Trafford. Not much has changed, except now they are looking further afield. After all, Highbury is closer to Amsterdam, home of Quincy Owusu-Ayiebe, than it is to Newcastle.

United have emulated the Gunners, but only to a point. You’ll find a fair share of gifted overseas youngsters at Carrington: from Spaniard Gerard Pique to American Jonathan Spector and from Dane Mads Timm to Italian Giuseppe Rossi. The difference is that Sir Alex Ferguson has been much quicker to pick up British youngsters – Alan Smith, Darren Fletcher, Liam Miller, Luke Steele and, of course, Wayne Rooney come to mind – while his foreign forays have consisted of players ready to contribute straight away – Cristiano Ronaldo, Gabriel Heinze, Kleberson – rather than teenagers who may yield a dividend somewhere down the line.

It’s obvious, however, that the trend of importing foreigners into the youth team is destined to grow. The opportunity to pick up ready-made talent at bargain prices is too strong to resist. Parma know a thing or two about it. Last season, their under-19 strikeforce consisted of Arturo Lupoli and Giuseppe Rossi, who combined to score 67 goals in 20 league games.

Now the former is at Arsenal, where he has already notched two goals in the League Cup, plus another eight in the reserves, and the latter is at United, where he is likely to be on the bench Wednesday night.

The two could be reunited at Old Trafford less than six months after leading Parma to the Italian Under-19 title.

“Neither boy had signed professional terms with Parma,” says Lupoli’s agent, Luca Pasqualin. “By law, they couldn’t sign for another Italian club, but they were free to move abroad and sign a professional contract. Which is what they did. I think you’re going to see more and more of this.”

Under Fifa rules, Parma were entitled to a fixed compensation fee: £260,000 for Lupoli and £180,000 for Rossi. If they go to the next level it will be the steal of the century for both clubs.

Wenger seems content to showcase the youngsters in the League Cup.

“This is their competition,” he says. “They’ve earned their place in the quarter-finals and I’m not going to change. There are enough matches for the first-team players.”

Sir Alex, on the other hand, can’t afford that luxury. United’s poor start in the Premiership has made a run at the league title unlikely, if not impossible. Qualification to the knockout phase of the Champions League was achieved with minimum stress, but that competition is essentially a crapshoot, much like the FA Cup. Snubbing the League Cup entirely at this stage of the season simply wouldn’t make sense.

That’s why he has included first-teamers such as Louis Saha, Phil Neville, Wes Brown, Alan Smith, Klebeson, John O’Shea and Darren Fletcher in his League Cup sides. It’s likely he’ll take a similar approach on Wednesday night.

There are too many senior professionals at United who simply don’t get enough playing time: Phil Neville, Saha, Klebeson, Eric Djemba Djemba, O’Shea and David Bellion played a combined 297 minutes in official competition in the last month (excluding League Cup). Wenger, whose squad are smaller and who has had more injuries, doesn’t face these issues. Besides, conceding a trophy – any trophy – is simply not in Sir Alex’s nature, particularly when facing opponents such as Arsenal. That’s why the Old Trafford clash will be more like a match between Arsenal’s future and United’s B-side, rather than any telling measure of either side’s strength.

While nobody will be under any illusion that the visiting team at Old Trafford has any relation to the current Premiership champions (beyond the colour of their shirts), the stakes are higher than they appear, at least for Sir Alex. Unless he elects to copy Wenger and field a blend of reserves and the youth team , United will have a lot more to lose on Wednesday night than Arsenal. Even an under-strength side such as the one who beat Crystal Palace in the last round still cost £25 million. Anything other than a resounding victory will taste of humiliation, particularly hard to swallow in the wake of the celebrations over his 1000th appearance as United manager.

28 November 2004


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agreed with this article totally, can United's £25m team beat our little chavvy's who are barely out of school and most still live with landladies or their parents and only know flash cars from what they see our first teamers driving ?

i don't know but it will be good to find out.

this could be very embarassing for Fergie. :D
 

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its funny how people writing articles dont bother to get their stats right. they say reyes will be 22 in january, when he will be 22 in september, not january. seriously, it seems as if the guy just picked a random date
 

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If the senor side were playing then manure would own arsenal. But since AW is giving the youngsters a go, :ass:nal might just be able to give manure a game, and maybe even win. :eek:

I predict a 2-1 victory to the pricks from manchester
 

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Kids vs Reserves.

Your squad is paper thin and hence have no reserves to pick from.

Fergie will be giving the benchwarmers a chance to get out of their tracksuit and have a go.Should be a good game and might see some of the future stars of the League.
 

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Hmm

Man Utd 2-3 Arsenal ;)
 

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The Arsenal kids would give the full strength ManU side a run for there money, nevermind the rejects like Djembax2 and co.

Arsenal 2-0 ManUre
Lupoli
van Persie
 

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SM ONLINE said:
The Arsenal kids would give the full strength ManU side a run for there money, nevermind the rejects like Djembax2 and co.

Arsenal 2-0 ManUre
Lupoli
van Persie
You win one game and you're cocky again. :D ....I suppose, when you're living in Everton's shadow you have to hang on to small mercies. :pp

The Arse kids are overhyped. They have a few outstanding prospects, but they really aren't that brilliant against kids their own age.

And in our match against Crewe, our average team age was just one year older than the Arsenal team.
 

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Typical Man U fan just can't wait to bite into Arsenal at any chance. It's simple the league doesnt lie were above you :howler:
 

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SuicideDD said:
You win one game and you're cocky again. :D ....I suppose, when you're living in Everton's shadow you have to hang on to small mercies. :pp
I said Arsenals kids would give your side a run for there money, not Liverpools.

And in Evertons shadows? lol "forever in our shadows 18:4"

count the cups
 

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reyes44 said:
Typical Man U fan just can't wait to bite into Arsenal at any chance. It's simple the league doesnt lie were above you :howler:
I don't really care about Arsenal tbh. They're our rivals for second place, not much more IMO. :D....Have to be honest and admit that I can't stand Wenger though, I respect him for what he's done, but I don't like him.

Liverpool, City and to a lesser extent Leeds are our only real rivals. You care about us a lot more than we care about you.
 

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SM ONLINE said:
I said Arsenals kids would give your side a run for there money, not Liverpools.

And in Evertons shadows? lol "forever in our shadows 18:4"

count the cups
14 years!

Have you ever done the Treble...Have you ****. :shades:

And not this one:



 

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SM ONLINE said:
Hvae you ever won two successive European Cups?
Touche.

But were you old enough to see them? ;) :D

Arguing with Liverpool supporters is more fun than arguing with Arsenal supporters. At least you're a big club with comparable achievements. *meow* :dielaugh:
 

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SuicideDD said:
Touche.

But were you old enough to see them? ;) :D

Arguing with Liverpool supporters is more fun than arguing with Arsenal supporters. At least you're a big club with comparable achievements. *meow* :dielaugh:
aaah got me there I weren't around during the glory days (I am 17), I was born into Liverpool rather then choosing them, none the less a great acheivment what Liverpool fans should be able to look back at with great pride.

lol good point :D even if it was a bit of a cheap shot :tongue:
 

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SM ONLINE said:
aaah got me there I weren't around during the glory days (I am 17), I was born into Liverpool rather then choosing them, none the less a great acheivment what Liverpool fans should be able to look back at with great pride.
I wasn't born for nearly another twenty years and I still hold Charlie George's goal in 1971 dear to me; just an amazing moment that clubs like ours and the Mancs have ...

... and didn't buy, either.
 

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khimik said:
I wasn't born for nearly another twenty years and I still hold Charlie George's goal in 1971 dear to me; just an amazing moment that clubs like ours and the Mancs have ...

... and didn't buy, either.
:howler:

Cheapshot-o-rama.

Chelsea the latest club on the end of a verbal bitchslap.
 
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