Tag Archives: Chelsea

Is youth team football now pointless?

So Chelsea recently won their 4th FA Youth Cup in a row. They beat Manchester City in the final for the 3rd time in a row, and have made 7 of the last 8 finals. 

Yet the last player to break through Chelsea’s youth system and become a first team regular is set to leave the club this summer.

John Terry made his Chelsea debut in 1998, 19 years ago. And since then, despite many millions being pumped into the Chelsea youth system, no other player has gone on to become a regular starter for the club. 

It leads me to the conclusion that, for top clubs at least, investment in youth is a waste of time and money.

To have dominated youth football for 7 years and not have developed a player good enough for your own first team supports this conclusion.

The likes of Josh McEachran, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Patrick Bamford, Nathanial Chalobah, Lewis Baker & Islam Feruz have all had plenty of loan spells over the time, but not much game time at Chelsea. 

The majority of the players to have performed for Chelsea youth teams have gone on to have half decent careers in the lower leagues, but it is only really Chalobah and, more recently, Nathan Ake, who have shown they have anywhere near the ability to be in a Chelsea match day squad. Although they are squad players rather than 1st team. 

Time might not yet be up for the likes of Dominic Solanke, Charly Musonda & Jay Dasilva. Whilst the likes of Tammy Abraham and Andreas Christensen have been impressive on loan. But whether any of them are good enough to be the “next John Terry” and go from youth product to 1st team regular is still up for debate. 

The majority of players will end up as journeyman, only to pop up in a lower leagues FA Cup run. 

It is not just Chelsea this criticism is labelled at. Manchester City have been the losing team in the last 3 FA Youth Cup Finals. They do not have a single academy graduate who has played a league game this year. The closest being Kelechi Ihenachu who signed for them at 18. 

The last group of players I remember breaking through at City would have been before the money came in. The likes of Micah Richards, Michael Roberts, Stephen Ireland and Daniel Sturbridge – and even some of these might have been signed to the club. 

Gone are the days of Arsenal winning the FA Youth Cup in the late 80s, then a year later winning the league title with many of the same players. 

Will we ever see a Class of 92 again? A Manchester United youth team winning the 1992 FA Youth Cup, then the majority breaking through into the Manchester United first team, and going on to win the biggest club trophy of them all, the Champions League?

Liverpool of the 90s might not have had Manchester United’s success, but they had a similar level of talented youth products. The likes of Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen.

Not one club can be singled out from the current top 6 as having a successful youth system. 

Over at Manchester United, their recent most successful graduates are the likes of Danny Welbeck and Jesse Lingaard (although Marcus Rashford will be a top player). Before that it was Kieran Richardson, Wes Brown and Johnny Evans. Not exactly Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and the Neville’s is it.

Liverpool have given plenty of youth a chance in recent years. But what has happened to the likes of Martin Kelly, Andre Wisdom, Jay Spearing & Jon Flanaghan? Will Trent Alexander Arnold go the same way?

Is Raheem Sterling a graduate or was he poached from QPR? They have produced little quality since the Carragher / Steven Gerrard days.

A look over at Spurs will have many crying out “that is how it is done” as they challenge for honours with a group of young Englishman. It the fact is only Harry Kane in their current starting XI came from their youth set up. 

Kyle Walker and Danny Rose were signed from Sheffield United and Leeds, whilst Dele Alli was recruited from Milton Keynes Dons. Kieran Trippier was a Manchester City youth product who had already been an ever present in the Premier League for Burnley. And Eric Dier came from Portugal. 

They might have also bought through the likes of Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend and Jake Livermore, and have the likes of Harry Winks and Joshua Onomah, but these are all bottom half of the table / Championship players.

Arsenal are no better. 

Having won the FA Youth Cup in 2009, a lot of high hopes were put on the likes of Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. Wilshere is the only one who has really made it from that group, only injury problems holding him back massively. 

Most probably couldn’t even name where the likes of Frimpong & Emmanuel-Thomas were now playing. The next generation of Chuls Aneke and Benik Afobe have also had to drop down the league. And time is ticking for Chuba Akpom. 

The reality is Chelsea have not produced an England regular since John Terry, Liverpool not since Steven Gerrard, Man City not in living memory. Can you count Jack Wilshere as an England regular? I don’t think so. Arsenal’s last was then Ashley Cole. Spurs can at least. Ow cling to Harry Kane. But before that it was Ledley King (although he only won 21 caps!). 

The big clubs have barely produced an England regular between them since the 1990s. And we wonder why the national team is struggling

John Terry made his England debut on 3rd June 2003. That was 14 years ago. Since that date, only two youth team graduates from England’s current top 6 have made their international debut and gone on to win over 30 caps. Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck. 

The days of sides winning the FA Youth Cup, and the competition being a good predictor for which side was set to bring in the next “future of English football” and dominate the game is over. 

The FA Youth Cup is now a pointless competition. It is worth celebrating as much as you’d celebrate your side winning the women’s Premier League. 



Arsenal’s “humiliating” TV rescheduling, Semi Final Tickets, Thomas Tuchel & Leicester Fans

“Humiliating” TV rescheduling

I had to laugh yesterday when The Sun created a story about Sky TV changing their TV choice for a load of rearranged games. Dropping Arsenal v Leicester for Crystal Palace.

Let’s be honest, it is agenda drivel BS which no real Arsenal fan would take seriously. Those who use it to form any sort of Wenger Out / Arsenal in Crisis are clearly a little bit thick.

Having a TV game switched is no a “humiliation”. Anyone with half a brain would realise that Palace v Spurs would be a more attractable game then Arsenal v Leicester.

In recent weeks, Palace have beaten Chelsea and Arsenal. They are currently in a relegation scrap. The potential for a story is much bigger than Leicester.

At the time of TV scheduling, Leicester were still in trouble. Champions on the verge of relegation. The media would have loved that story and wanted to be there every step of the way. In recent weeks they have got themselves to mid table. They are safe. No longer a threat to relegation. There is no story there.

Palace is now a bigger story to tell than Leicester. And Sky want to tell that story.

This season 70% of Arsenal games have been on tv. That is 70% too many for a match going fan fed up with games continually being rescheduled for a TV audience. We play Middlesbrough on Monday night. Easter Monday. A bank holiday. A disgrace of scheduling.

I would rather be “humiliated” and have Middlesbrough v Arsenal on Saturday 3pm so I can actually go, then have it as a TV pick.

Sky have showed so little interest in showing Arsenal for the rest of the season that in the latest set of TV games, they decided to pick Stoke v Arsenal. A pointless game. A pointless rescheduling. The rest of the Premier League should be humiliated that this is the best offering Sky could pick for this slot.

Arsenal would have been on 17 out of a possible 20 times since the turn of the year up until Leicester and 3 of the next 4 after Leicester will be shown on TV.

We have had jut 1 Saturday 3pm kick off this calendar year. And just 7 all season. 7 of 38 games on at 3pm Saturday.

TV companies do not humiliate football clubs by changing the TV scheduling. They disregard fans by scheduling games without thinking about those who actually go to games.

It is not humiliating. It is an agenda.

Semi Final tickets

Another example of “using a story to suit an agenda” is with semi final tickets. Arsenal have yet to sell out and tickets today (I think) go on sale to fans who have been to at least 10 games and held a red membership over at least the last 2 seasons.

“It shows fans apathy. That they are fed up” has been the main narrative wheeled out by many.

The fact is all 4 clubs have struggled to sell out their FA Cup Semi Final tickets.

Chelsea had to go down to fans who have been to 5+ games to sell their allocation. They are top of the league. Spurs tickets went on sale to bronze members (their equivalent of red members) who had “148 loyalty points”.

Spurs loyalty points system is similar to Arsenal’s away credit, but with a few big differences. It includes home games, they give a different weight to different games, and it includes the last 4 seasons and the current campaign (Arsenal’s is last 2 season + current campaign, away games only, 1 point per game).

Now Spurs even give you loyalty points for just renewing their membership. A bronze member gets 15 loyalty points. So if a bronze member has held their membership for the last 5 seasons 9including the current one), they would have 75 loyalty points without even going to a game. Almost half the points needed for an FA Cup Semi Final ticket. Incredible.

They give out 1 point per Category A game, 3 per Category C and 5 points per Category C game. You can use your own brain to work out which sides fall into which Category.

So if you had renewed your membership every year for 5 years, you would have had to have gone to on average, 3 Category C games a season over that time to be over the 148 points.

So Arsenal are getting hammered for tickets being on sale to 10+ games over the last 2 season, whilst Spurs fans would have had to have gone to just 15 games over the last 5 seasons. Chelsea just 5+ games (I have not researched over how many seasons).

Of course, both these clubs are considerably smaller than Arsenal. Have small grounds and smaller fan bases. So it is only natural that their fans would have to have been to less games than Arsenal (although both sides sell more tickets each week than the 32,000 they have sold for the FA Cup Semi Final).

Then we come to Manchester City.

Manchester City have put their tickets on General Sale. That means any Tom, Dick or Harry can buy one. You do not even have to be a member. Or a Manchester City fan. You could be a Leyton Orient fan, do the Marathon, then head to Wembley.

So all 4 clubs, no matter if they are having a great season or an awful season, are struggling to sell out Wembley. This shows there are deeper rooted issues surrounding tickets and poor sales than “Arsenal fans showing their anger”

  • Tickets are too expensive – Whilst tickets priced at £30 – £60 does not seem unreasonable, the pattern will always be the cheapest tickets go first. The majority of last tickets on sale will be the £60 ones. Fans might be unwilling to pay this much for a single game.
  • Wembley Apathy – I am a big believer, like many, that FA Cup semi finals should not be held at Wembley. I would much rather have 20,000 Arsenal fans & 20,000 City fans at Villa Park. The most loyal of fans. Rather than 32,000 fans, watered down by day trippers and ‘friends of the FA’ at Wembley. Some fans just do not want to go to Wembley unless it is for a final.
  • Wembley Apathy II – This will be the 7th time in 3 years that Arsenal have visited Wembley. Football fans get bored quickly. A trip to Wembley, for many, is not as exciting now as it was in 2014. It is like shagging Kelly Brook. Great to begin with, but after a while she gets boring. It’s why so many blokes end up getting rid of her.

Should Arsenal have sold out by now? I would have expected so, yes. But Arsenal have struggled no more than the other 3 clubs still left in the competition.

What it highlights more than everything is that there is just how fragile clubs membership lists are. Clubs have 100,000+ members, but less than a third of that seem to be willing to buy tickets on a regular basis.

homas Tuchel

One of the names banded about a lot as a potential Arsene Wenger replacement is Thomas Tuchel of Borussia Dortmund.

Now I am all for getting Wenger replaced, but the replacement has to be a manager who can take us forward. Someone like the excellent Max Allegri at Juventus or Simeone from Atletico Madrid. What I will not accept is a sub-par manager. Someone who is not superior to Wenger. I want the best players at Arsenal Football Club. I want the best managers.

When I have previously seen the likes of Owen Coyle, Brendan Rodgers, David Moyes, Gary Monk, Michael Laudrup and Eddie Howe linked with the Arsenal job, it is laughable. It actually strengthens Wenger’s position as it makes it appear that there are no better options out there. People are willing to call for any manger to replace Wenger, as to them it is not about how comes in, but who leaves. More interested in Wenger going then who his replacement is.

Thomas Tuchel is another one who can go into the bin. For me he is one of the most overrated managers in Europe.

The sole reason he is on anyone’s radar is because he was at Mainz 05 and then moved to Dortmund. The identical journey as Jurgen Klopp. They label him “the new Klopp”. But having a similar background to Klopp does not mean he is good enough.

A bit like when Bruno Cheryou, French with Algerian descent, was labelled the next Zinedine Zidane, French with Algerian descent, due to him being French with Algerian descent.

Or those that labelled Abou Disney the next Patrick Vieira because he was tall, black, born in Senegal but grew up in France. Or the countless “diminutive playmakers” from Argentina who get labelled the “next Maradona” or more recently the “Next Messi”.

You need to judge someone on what their own achievements are, not on the achievements of someone who shares similar characteristics. And so far Thomas Tuchel has achieved nothing.

Last night Dortmund were taken apart at home against Monaco. Losing 3-2.

They currently sit 18 points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. It has to be said Bayern are an awesomely strong team so being 18 behind should not be seen as a negative for a manager. But sitting 4th in the league is more damning.

On top of this, Dortmund spent around £100m last summer. Much of which wasted on a lot of unknown youngsters.

So Dortmund spent a lot of money, hide failure behind having a team of kids, sit 4th in the league and are on the brink of going out in Europe. Maybe Tuchel is the perfect replacement for Wenger. If you want to keep mediocrity and the status quo.

Leicester Fans

Talk of Leicester fans disgracing themselves in Spain. Some Arsenal fans have commented on the matter calling them a disgrace.

Let’s be honest, at some point, almost every football fan has travelled abroad, stood in a square topless, drank too much beer, sang some naughty songs and ended up being charged by the police.

It happened in Milan. In Munich. In Lille for the Euro’s. European police do not like us and look for any reason to give us a smack.

The songs about Gibraltar were spot on. Gibraltar is ours and Spain can F Off. It reminds me of being in the square in Lille with England (and Welsh) fans last summer singing “we all voted out, we all voted out, F Off Europe, we all voted out”. We got charged, smacked and gassed by the French police that night.

If you have said, tweeted or commented that Leicester fans embarrassed themselves and England yesterday, please get over yourself. Get off your high horse. You are probably someone who on a Euro away spends all day taking selfies infront of the Eifel Tower. You probably do even more embarrassing things at games then have a beer and a sing song.

Euro aways are the best experience. Beers abroad with your pals. Sadly it seems some fans are so concerned over how they wish to portray themselves on social media that they forget their own behaviour abroad.

What Leicester fans did was no different to what Arsenal, Chelsea or Spurs fans have done abroad. And it was great.

Have a good Easter!


Back the team; not the regime

And we go again.

The thing about football is the next big important game is always round the corner. You can feel lower than low on a Tuesday night, higher than high on a Saturday night. It is a rollercoaster of emotions.

For the last 6 weeks, the Arsenal rollercoaster has felt like a never ending drop. A downward spiral, you might say. But this weekend we have the chance to get a little bit of sunlight in our season. A bit of a lift. We are just one game from Wembley.

Since beating Southampton in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, Arsenal have lost 5 of the 7 games played. The only victories against Hull and Sutton. 3-1 defeats away at Chelsea and Liverpool, and two 5-1 defeats against Bayern Munich has left a bitter taste in many fans mouths. The worst result of the run though was the 2-1 home loss to Watford. An inexplicable result.

Fan morale is at its lowest that I can remember in my 22 years of going down The Arsenal. There is hatred on the terraces, hatred towards the manager, the board, the players, hatred towards fellow fans, and it is all justified. But today, it needs to be put to one side, for 24 hours at least.

No matter what you think of Arsene Wenger, the board, or certain players, Arsenal are 1 victory away from Wembley. 2 victories from a Wembley final, 3 victories from another FA Cup. And ultimately that is what matters. Trophies over progression.

Today, no matter how angry you might be, how disappointed about how our season is potentially turning out you might be, it is important to back the team.

Put your agendas to one side. Saying stuff like “I want us to lose today so Wenger leaves” is stupid. Success over agendas. Wenger staying or leaving should not come into your thoughts when you think do I want Arsenal to win the FA Cup. The answer should always be yes, no matter if an FA Cup victory means Wenger will stay for another 2 years.

1 win from Wembley
2 wins from an FA Cup Final
3 wins from a 13th FA Cup

Back the team; not the regime