On a morning with not much gossip in the world of football, I thought I would reflect back on another article from Arsene Wenger written in 2003, a year that saw us beat sides like Manchester City 5-1 at Maine Road but then lose to Blackburn Rovers at their home ground 2-0.
The team that beat City was Taylor, Lauren, van Bronkhorst, Keown, Campbell, Gilberto, Vieira, Pires, Wiltord, Bergkamp and Henry. Substitutes for the day were Ray Parlour, Edu, Jeffers, Cygan, Warmuz.
I wish we still had a few like that playing for us today, not Jeffers, no, but a Vieira, Pires or Keown would be welcome and of course, so to would be Henry and Bergkamp…
Back in the same year though we started to hear from Arsene about how well the Youth Academy was doing and how important it was for the FUTURE of our club.
This is what he said,
‘I personally feel that we have about nine or ten players who are really close to the first team and to able to say that is fantastic’.
‘I am talking about the players who are aged between 18yrs and 21yrs. For example we have, David Bentley, Jeremie Aliadiere, Ryan Garry, Jerome Thomas, Sebastian Svard, Moritz Volz, Jermaine Pennant, Graham Stack, Kolo Toure and others too, there is also a young Swiss defender Philippe Senderos who will be joining us in the summer’.
‘When you look at that list there are ten or so players who are the top level, that is great for the future of our club and is a guarantee for us. The condition of our young players look tremendous.’
Arsene also said back then ‘I’m in a situation now where I can look at the younger players coming through, which I couldn’t do so much when I first arrived at the club, I had to buy players.’
All very interesting I am sure, but apart from Kolo Toure and David Bentley – just where are the players now?
Aliadiere – Middlesbrough
Ryan Garry – Bournemouth
Jerome Thomas – West Bromich Albion
Sebastian Svard – Roda JC
Moritz Volz – No club
Jermaine Pennant – Real Zaragoza
Graham Stack – Hibernian
Phillipe Senderos – I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going on with him.
My point is, in 2003 Arsene Wenger was telling the world that we had so many play ready to play for the first team. Well, not many of those he bragged about back then went on to play for us on a regular basis, only Toure and Senderos and I wouldn’t call either of them a hero.
Has anything really changed since then? – Are there a few Heroes in waiting right now, or will they go the same way as some of the players above?