Wenger: they can’t even head the ball

Wenger: they can’t even head the ball

Arsene Wenger has bemoaned the focus on young players playing competitive football at the expense of training during their formative years.

The Arsenal manager was responding to an FA report released today, and said it’s vital that youngsters are educated as footballers first and foremost.

Wenger has long suggested that the technical skills needed for a career in the top flight are developed early, and that improvement becomes almost impossible after a certain age. He wants to see young players given the coaching they need to give them a better chance in the game.

“You have to balance the training and the competition,” he said. “For me the competition has too much importance and the training too little.

“The time the kids spend on the pitch from the age of eight to 17 in training is too short. The time they spend in competition is too big, so to add more competition does not make sense.

“I have seen too many kids come to the age of 17 or 18 and they cannot head the ball or they have no left foot because they have not practised enough.”

And he warned that restricting the use of foreign players would ultimately be harmful to British players trying to make their breakthrough.

“At every single club, despite the big foreign players, the young players come through when they have the quality. That is what you have to target for. It is not to fight for mediocrity, it is to fight for quality.

“The bigger the players are that we have in England, the more the young players will develop because they develop in contact with those players. To get rid of big players would be a massive mistake for the education and quality of the youngsters.”

SIMILAR ARTICLES

56 COMMENTS

    • Of course they wouldn’t speak to Arsene because they wouldn’t want to hear the uncomfortable truth

      Thumb up 78 Thumb down 3

    • Of course they didn’t. In the words of Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It – “You need to listen to the right expert. And you need to know what an expert is going to advise you before he advises you.”

      Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

    • Why? He is one of the foreigners who is not letting talented British Managers like Big Sam, Redknapp, Pulis grow and get an oppurtunity at big clubs.

      Here is another thought, the B teams have to be managed by British managers.

      Thumb up 37 Thumb down 15

  1. Oh look, we have an intelligent manager not bogged down in disguised xenophobia and obsessed with foreign players being the reason for English players being shit.

    Who knew?

    Thumb up 205 Thumb down 3

  2. British Football has always valued power and pace, blood and thunder over any technical skills. Wenger is just the latest in a long line people to bemoan the state of football training. As long as the big kids play at the back, and the fastest kids on the wings / up front, we will never develop as a football nation. Too many clod hoppers from the 70s still have senior roles at clubs, be it managers or training.

    Thumb up 169 Thumb down 0

  3. I see them on the park, hoofing the ball painfully around. This is organised football with crowds of parents and the football is awful. No passing, the big ones dominate, no clear positioning and they clearly have had no training in sprinting off the ball. But all kids want to do is play, not train. What you need is more specialist schools which blend football training all day with a reduced timetable. Which of us would have signed up for that when we were 11?

    Thumb up 94 Thumb down 5

    • Couldn’t agree more, that was my experience of junior footie. No wonder we are miles behind the Spanish at the moment. Kids aren’t taught to be technically gifted as power is considered more important.

      Thumb up 54 Thumb down 1

      • This is a problem going back 30 years. More even. The FA has seen France’s Clairfontane, the German, Spain and even the Brazil model and still not tackled the underlying problem.

        As a youth, the most naturally gifted players never made it to a certain level as they were always given a hard time for being too fancy. The big lumps, the hardest tacklers, the biggest kids for their age always made it as they were inevitably the most competitive and physically strong and winning was far more important to coaches than playing quality football.

        Also remember we’re talking an about an establishment which turned to the genius football minds of Howard Wilkinson and Stuart Pearce to bring about change.

        Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

        • umm the ‘brazil model’ is basically to have a massive population live in extreme poverty with football being literally the only escape – and then to put massive pressure on kids at the age of 10-12 to perform and develop. yes it makes a lot of talented footballers, but is that really the model England should follow?

          Thumb up 19 Thumb down 6

        • That is of course not entirely true.

          Otherwise India and China would have been World Cup kings over and over.

          Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

      • England got more organised football practice than Spain or Brazil. But why then do they not produce the same quality players? Well after footy practice in England, Kids go home and play videogames or hang around at the mall etc. In Spain or Brazil they just play Even more football.

        Kids walk to school juggling or running with a ball at their feet. They play football before school rings in, they play it in the breaks at school, they play football after school, and football is generally just a vital part of many kids day.

        In England Kids probably spend more time playing football videogames than they do actually playing/practicing football. Sure they go to football practice, but what they do with the rest of their day makes the difference imo.

        Im sure if you ask some of the British footballers like Ramsey or Wilshere aswell, football had a Much bigger place in their life as kids than for most kids in Britain.

        Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  4. I’d always thought there were too many age-grade competitions to allow the young ‘uns truly flourish.
    In all honesty though, youth development is one of the trickier aspects of football and very few footballing countries prioritize it.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  5. Being a teen of 17 years playing football in the east midlands i know Madhobobo and Mr Media are right; Nobody even attempts to play intelligent passes, just kick it forward and sprint until they reach the goal or get tackled.

    Watching Arsenal when i lived in North London in the early 2007 is what got me interested in football so I would always tried to replicate the movement, but if you pass it to anyone don’t expect a backpass or them picking you out when you make a run,just running and running and running for 90 minutes.

    Thumb up 49 Thumb down 2

  6. No but seriously trying getting your coach to explain exactly how he believe his team should play(impossible) or holding the ball up in midfield to get team mates to make runs( they just stand still around you shouting PASS IT FAM!!), there is a surprising lack of tactics management in England.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  7. I remember playing football for local clubs up until about the age of 18 (ate too many donuts after that) and it sounds daft but the emphasis on winning was ridiculous. I mean who cares if we won the south-east 23rd division 2nd hand paint plastic trophy cup. I know Wenger is probably talking on more of a pro level, but it still applies. It’s so stereotypical, but the aggression from managers and parents on the sidelines during matchday just made us young-uns wana go home.

    It should definitely be about training and playing decent football. You have a natural instinct to win, which doesn’t need to be taught. I remember 1 club I played at almost had it – when we trained we played passing football, but come matchday you just hoofed it for fear of being shot at by your team mates in case you scuffed a backpass. The result really shouldn’t matter at all at younger ages – the intention of playing decent football just needs to be there.

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

  8. Just ban Wayne Rooney and John Terry on TV screens and all will rectify itself. Trust.

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 0

  9. English football is mediocre. Why dont they realise this, swallow their pride and refine their tradition? So long as this doesnt change, major tournaments will always feature ridiculous england performances where they hoof the ball and will never beat the big nations.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  10. Hey guys!.I know this is totally off course,but can Mr.Blogger (or anyone who knows) tell me what Phil Collins did to him?..I will be glad to know the valid reason why Old Ole Philly is being mocked by Mr. Blogger.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    • Off the top of my head:

      1. He exists.

      2. He sang in hideous 80s autotune.

      3. His incredibly annoying voice is inescapeable if you’re ever trawling through long wave radio channels or have to stop off in motorway cafes.

      4. John Terry likes him.

      5. He insinuated that he wouldn’t walk past a homeless person in the street pretending he didn’t see him/her. Pffffft…. yeah right…

      Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

      • Some say he destroyed Genesis (I never listened to ‘em so I can’t really say)
        He’s also pretty right wing, a proudThatcherite (and sings bullshit about the homeless to make himself seem kind. He actually wants to spit on them and tell them to get a job) and a fan of Reagan. Woohoo! How Rock and Roll is that?

        He keeps marrying young birds like he’s not a fat, bald aging buffoon.
        He also begged to play with Led Zep at Live Aid. They agreed, but asked him to practice with them. Phil refused, saying he knew all the songs off by heart and not to worry. They said ”MMkay” or suchlike. He turns up and is completely out with his drumming. They take the piss backstage and Phil goes nuts and blames Led Zep for playing their own fucking songs at the wrong tempo! He even gives an interview to that effect. That’s right, he blamed the whole band who were doing him a favour (he also tried to say they asked him which was proven incorrect on video footage. The bugger begged to play with them. Luckily, Led Zep were far too wasted at the time to really care.

        Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

        • Thanks for the history, not all of us know this.

          I never really had a real dislike for Collins. But if Arseblog don’t like him, hey I am in with it too. Kind of like I have never been to Tottenham but I am willing to pretend they are crap you know.

          Love the Zep though. They are awesome, but burn out way to fast.

          Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Just heard Dyke blabbing on about the new proposals (on radio 5 live), which completely ignore the woefully inadequate training facilities and coaches available for UK youth. But no doubt his proposals will be popular as they include limiting non – European footballers from playing in the UK. Good players raise the game of their whole team.

    Dyke’s proposals reek of race to the bottom NOT train to the top. Its an ignorant backward idea and simply urging more of the same, which as we already know isn’t good enough. We need to adopt an approach more like Spain or Germany which trains their youth in technique, and tactics ie; intelligent football, not hump, kick, lunge and barge. Surely we don’t aspire to have a national team that play Stoke – styling? Please no!.

    AW’s points are simply common sense, well put, succinct and true.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  12. I don’t live in England, but it’s frighteningly obvious for anyone to see, in the Premiership, the lower divisions, & the national squads at all age levels, how little attention English football pays to developing the technical side of their game. Blaming foreign players is like trying to lower the grade so your kid can pass.

    Thumb up 56 Thumb down 0

  13. Couldn’t agree more with arsene here. If they have no top players to fight with to get to the first team, they will end up being average. If they just had a bit of patience and even took a glance at what is coming through the ranks at the moment in terms of English players, they will see that we have some real players coming through, and they’re that good because they have to be that good to play in the best quality league in the world. All these changes are going to do is produce quantity at the lack of quality. Like we’ve always had, in other words. And look how successful we’ve been.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. My son’s at a football academy (Crewe Alex) and they do focus obsessively on technique, close control, skills under pressure.

    They do tend to get battered sometimes by more physical academy sides like West Brom, Man City etc which is can be demoralising for the players.

    I think it’s up to the coaches to keep faith in their philosophy and not get drawn in to the whole competitive mentality of it.

    Obviously its good to win but it’s not the priority at a young age.

    I remember Bergkamp talking about the same thing in his book, saying how at Ajax the emphasis is placed solely on improving the young players, not on winning matches.

    So they would place a left footer on the right wing for instance to develop his weak foot, even if it would weaken the team.

    I think things are slowly changing in this country because of the success of clubs like Crewe, Southampton etc in producing technical footballers and I think our manager deserves some credit for that as well…

    Thumb up 45 Thumb down 0

    • So true. I remember when I was a lad (Hovis music). At my school I played on full sized pitches that were usually in awful condition. I’m talking aged 8 or 9. With a proper football (they were quite a bit harder in the late 70’s). It was hard enough to kick the ball ten yards. Also, an eight year old cannot fill a full size goal very well (I wasn’t the keeper thank god). If you got it on target it was in. The mantra was ‘get into ‘em’ and not much else. We did have one mental teacher who wanted us to play like the Dutch 70’s ‘Total Football’ team. Thing is, we were a bunch of snotty kids that could do about 20 keepy uppies between the lot of us. One touch passing and quick breakaways were not our thing (unless you were talking about the chocolate bar). He soon gave up and we went back to hoofball with everyone chasing the ball like a dog chasing a balloon.

      Obviously, I would’ve been the new Pele had they done things correctly.

      Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  15. The fact that Wenger’s expert opinion is expressed only when asked by provacative media says it all about the state of the country’s youth set up.

    You would think that his input is priceless when it comes to developing a player let alone young players.

    Logic is a mythical concept in the FA, it is simply a political party with agendas and inconpetent people running it rather than simply being a governing body of football.

    Many other nations have less rescources but better set ups. That is the biggest shame.

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  16. Ironically, the greatest English heroes impressed because of superior relative technique rather than the degree of “Englishness” with which they played the game.

    Wenger is right, of course. In the USA we are trying to reverse trend where youth pay to play too many games and do not train enough. Why is the FA considering the opposite? Ah, £££. Naturally.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  17. How many English players play abroad ? n we still import more foreigners than any other league ! Have we got professional footballers who can’t get a job dose any other countries want them ? Is there to many average foreigners here cause they are cheaper than an English player ?

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  18. Heading the ball? I always wondered why we didn’t get Gervinho to practice his heading. Imagine if he’d connected with a cross with that magnificent forehead of his?

    It would’ve burst the net, gone into the crowd, through someone’s guts, through the seat, through the concrete, outside the stadium, through the shops, accross the globe and returned a few hours later.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  19. “Englishness”.

    Suppose to add grit and ‘get on with it’ attitude as oppose to roll on the ground and play act like say…Joey Barton or erm Wayne Rooney.

    Look at the current Arsenal squad for strength and robustness and you see 4 of our English lads kited up in Lanvin ready to grace the Emirates (Private VIP box).

    By way of contrast, those whinging effete Frogs are well the indestructable Gourd, or no compromise black booted Flamini or the solid carved straight out of pure hard ebony Sagna, I don’t mind a red card KOscielny, take your pick.

    There already is a B league in the championship where potential English prospects should first horn their skills and competitiveness. If they can’t make it in the Championship, they do not deserve to make it in the PL and no amount of pussy footing around acronyms and false leagues will raise the standard for players to spend time in an artificial sense of superior performance ina B league.

    Get the coaching numbers up first. Play against the best and you are likely to improve better than playing in mediocrity in an artificial caccoon.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  20. I smirked when I read this, as even the great Thierry Henry never looked like he knew how to head the ball (apart from that goal against Man United)

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. I remember some qoute awhile back where the frenchmen maybe thierry chided jose reyes after he scored a headed goal in training “what are you doing?! the head is for thinking!”

    Maybe someone else hass remembered it better.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. If a guy like Cazorla was born and raised in the UK he’d probably be working in a cubicle or something.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  23. Worth noting that the partial reason why foreigners are so cheap is bc domestic players are way over valued.

    This in itself is a self fulfilling thing as the league in trying to ensure a certain participation for British talent (fair enough) has otherwise set an ‘artificial quota per team. The result is that market forces do not balance themselves out and prices are set artificially high for those players irrespective of talent level.

    Still kudos to a number of teams that continuously bring up good British players. Southampton and Everton are top on the list and it would not be too much for the FA to see what they are doing right.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. I was taught very little when I played. I played left back because I was slow. I mean I enjoyed the position and it was probably my suited position (but I wasn’t very left footed, because i never practiced), but to me it was just “defend” no technical ability and all the nice little moves I see on tv are completely new to me. It’s not just us though. In norway right now and I’ve seen a lot of hoofing from the kids….

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. To be honest you can’t be weak and play in the premier leauge, i just can’t imagine Neymar doing well against a team such as stoke and as our youth from here the idea is for the scouts to get a player which would be fit to play for the premier leauge and not to do well in spain so the emphasis is a bitter bigger on players which can take a tackle and take contact rather then just dribble like in brazilian leauges for example.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  26. There goes Wenger and his excuses. I never heard Ipwsich, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton, etc not acknowledge our Titles because we had more money than them.

    Diego Simeone is winning La Liga. Mourinho won Champions League with Porto. Roberto Martinez just battled Adsenal to 4th place with a quarter of our budget.

    When it comes to Arsenal we are always finding creative excuses for our manager. SMH

    Sigh…

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

Leave a Reply