Lack of faith in youth systems see Ferguson & Wenger turn to old heads

Despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s claims that his squad wasn’t faltering, the re-arrival and coming-out-of-retirement of Paul Scholes and return to the Manchester United squad smacks of desperation. A blunt Arsenal squad rely on their highest ever goalscorer Thiery Henry to return to their club for two months from his winding down towards retirement job at New York Red Bulls to fire up their season. To some, alot even, it’s a dream to see these undoubted legends of both clubs to grace their hallowed turf again. Not me.

Paul Scholes, undoubted genius midfield on the pitch with split second timing and an eye for a goal... in his prime. Since he’s been back, he wasn’t able to create much against Manchester City and even nearly gave away a goal. He scored against Bolton but didn’t exactly do too much else against a a poor defence. Plus I thought he retired at the end of last season because he knew his legs were going and he couldn’t think he could compete at highest level anymore! Why dilute his legacy of a midfield maestro at Old Trafford like this?!

At least Scholes’ return was a surprise on the day, unlike Thierry Henry. The hype leading up to last Monday night’s cup game against Leeds United was unbelievable. You’d think it was done and dusted for Henry to score the winner. He contributing nothing after scoring his “magnificent” goal and was lucky not to get a yellow after lumping a Leeds player. In 22 minutes, just to score an arguably offside goal wasn’t exactly a good way to live up to the legend of Henry.

Henry’s cheerleading was bloody disgusting as well. What if Leeds took the restart quickly whilst Henry was parading about, hugging the squad and Wenger and put the match back to a draw? We would have been talking about the ridiculous amounts of showboating he did, putting himself first before the team! I’ll give Scholes credit for not parading about like a singular entity that thought he was bigger than his team.

What annoys me the most about these two coming back into match day squad is that it kills both squad’s youth systems.

18 year old Ravel Morrison is on Man U’s books and nearly on the verge of breaking into the first team radar within a year or two (Contract negotiations permitting). If he is capable of such talent, then why shouldn’t he be getting spots on the bench when the United’s squad is depleted as it at the moment? I keep hearing about discipline problems the youngster has, but surely he’s at the right club and has the right manager where it can stamped out or used to turn into more effective performances (i.e. Roy Keane). Counts for Paul Pogba too. Here’s Ferguson from the start of the season – “I mean if we hold Pogba back, what’s going to happen? He’s going to leave. You know, in a couple of years’ time when his contract is going to finish. So we have to give him the opportunity to see how he can do in the first-team and he’s got great ability.” Despite this obvious backing, Pogba has featured just 3 times this season – all in League Cup. To say this and not even get him and Morrison play for a few minutes here  and there in the league and Europe, must knock the lads confidence a fair bit! What’s the point of him trying and not making a bench/starting appearance?!

Same goes for Arsenal. They have South Korean striker Park Chu-Young in their squad and yet didn’t even start him against a lower league side in Leeds. Not to mention Benik Afobe or Rhys Murphy kicking about in the reserves. Whilst Park is mid 20’s and was brought in this season, the ignorance of Afobe and Murphy speaks volumes about Wenger’s faith, despite to have this supposed masterplan for the Gunners to live successfully off their youth system.

What’s the point of getting in these lads for your youth academy, with great potential, if you’re not even going to use them?! Play them for god’s sake, you’re not losing out playing them! Henry and Scholes aren’t going to the full 90 minutes at this stage of their careers in such a hard, physical, demanding league like the Premiership. Both have come off the bench so far in the FA Cup and Scholes went 70 minutes against Bolton, looking a bit knackered to me.

Henry and Scholes, emotion aside, are just a massive plaster on two waning squads, with two managers struggling for funds afraid to gamble on their own youth policies. It is no wonder than we are always complaining about the lack of youth coming through in the Premier League when two of the biggest clubs, not just in England, but in the World, stubbornly refuse to give the youngster chance to shine and rely on breaking down legends clinging on to past glories.


NOTE: This was written before Swansea/Arsenal kicks off on Sunday afternoon. Also, I did not see Peter Rutzler’s similar “Are the Golden Oldies a sign of England’s ailing youth system?” article being published until just before posting.