Project Youth Version 2.0

Strategy for the club is clear and fans will need patience

Project Youth Version 2.0

Raul Sanllehi - Man with a plan?

Please remember the week commencing 17th of June 2019. As this could be one of the most significant weeks in recent Arsenal history. It marks the change from fire fighting with random ill thought out high value signings, designed to appease the fan base. To a strategy of internal development that will tilt us into a club attempting to become a UK version of Borussia Dortmund or alternatively a Monaco. Both these clubs have managed to compete against the financial powerhouses of Bayern Munich and PSG. 

The design and build will be a resurgence, using youth to provide power and dynamism. I’d bet good money with comeon that there will be no more mention I suspect of being a Bayern Munich with no plan to get there.

We could say we have been here before with project youth, however Project Youth Version 1.0. was managed by an autocrat who accepted little input from specialist experts and whose skillset was already being blunted by a new generation of managers. 

To add to the dilemma the majority of our fanbase 10 years ago would not have stood easy with Wenger’s removal and any obvious disquiet in the boardroom would take a further 7-8 years to show any public face.

We are now entering Project Youth Version 2.0.

Raul Sanllehi - a divisive figure to some - has quietly put together a fit for business structure. The thing that Raul can offer is an understanding of corporate governance. Please bear with me as you cry “but it’s just a game!” The point is Tottenham and Liverpool have played the last three years sublimely whilst Arsenal and Man United have blundered from one disaster to another. We need to sharpen our skillset and professionalise ourselves. We cannot continue as we are. We need to diverge from the strange United / Arsenal symmetry. Let United pay £500,000 a week to Pogba. We have are trying to escape the £350,000 a week Ozil. 

It appears part one of the necessary action was to deconstruct Ivan Gazidis’s confused lines of command. 

What was Sven Mstinlat promised? It seems very much the offer of Raul’s role. Yet Raul is first and foremost an executive functionary - according to at least some gossip. Sven sacked some highly thought of scouts and then proceeded to be an absent figure. Next we have seen the sacking of Darren Burgess who appeared to overlap into Shay Forsythe’s territory. It was Darren Burgess who sacked the highly popular Colin Lewin. Darren Burgess was seemingly running on old ideas and was a fixture during Liverpool’s low period around the time of Roy Hodgson’s reign.

Arsene picked Darren Burgess personally. Was he the most compliant interviewee rather than the best qualified?

So Raul’s first two removals may actually be popular within the club and give clarity to the structure.

We are now according to well placed sources bringing in Edu. 

I personally breathed a sigh of relief that the proposed Director of Football Monchi took the easy route back to mid-table club level in Spain. Edu in contrast has built up his experience within the South American football environment but also knows personally what character a player will need to have to play Burnley away on a freezing cold evening. Edu has walked the walk, plus compared to say Rio Ferdinand (who Man Utd are considering) does have the smart links into South America power structures.

Earlier this week we saw the announcement of the reasons why Steve Bould and Freddie Ljungberg have carried out a swap.

The talk was all about transition with Freddie guiding the youth into 1st team intergration and at last Steve Bould can regain his mojo whilst driving youth performance, an area he was originally excelling in. He will take an overall head coach position with oversight of Per Mertesaker as well as deciding with Freddy how much challenge any one young player can be immersed into. This should reduce the risk compared To Wenger’s strategy of throwing in youth no matter the opposition. Arsene effectively helped create the climate to sack himself in that 2018 FA Cup exit against Nottingham Forest. A new overall philosophy should be a controlled climate and limited exposure to physical and psychological damage. We can think of a number of players like Johan Djourou who was destroyed by too much exposure to soon. It should be remembered that Senderos was considered at one stage to be the best for his age in Europe.

Finally I will look at the removal of the autocratic Management Structure and our new vision. Our Coach is now a very important cog, but a cog nonetheless, if Emery is sadly unable to deliver in the job. The specification is clear, the transition coaching is there. The DOF and executive structure is in place but not least a new vision for the way forward. It is therefore a simpler matter to match the right candidate. 

When I attended the infamous supporters event where Ivan Gazidis said he’d searched the earth only to find it was Arsene sitting next to him who was his top choice. The whole project at that time was about images of charity endeavour in the third world and some unmeasurable labelled as “class”. We were made to feel very good about ourselves in our mediocrity. 

We are finally under Raul moving back to our raison d’etre of being first and foremost a football club and with a plan to actually create a meaningful change. 

I believe we are recovering and finding our feet at last. What we will need is at least three years of patience to allow the new Arsenal to flourish. This could just as likely be under Emery or a new manager.

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  1. itsRonagain2

    Jun 24, 2019, 23:43 #114214

    Tierney? Come on. Really? May as well save the money and make do with what they’ve got. Andrew Robertson he certainly isn’t. He s another lightweight. May as well fetch Gibbs back. As for Zaha. I d Baulk at 20 mill for him. All flash and no substance with a deluded opinion of himself. Hopefully the rumours about him are all bollox. He s the type Tottenham used to throw shed loads of money at and hope for the best pre Poch until they had all this ‘ success’ ( coughs and splutters). Seriously. If it’s right they’ve no cash, soldier on with what they’ve got and bring kids into the frame I say. The kind of players AFC are linked with are the same old eg s of ordinariness Wengo used to buy for yrs. SK needs to realise now that nobody’s fooled any more. The cats outa the bag. We all know Arse FC are top 7 candidates now. No need for any more sticking plasters or buys disguised and described as up grades.


    Jun 24, 2019, 19:15 #114213

    Spain 1, USA a fortunate 2. Wonder if Raul will now make cheeky bids for the Spanish centre back & the USA left back. In Hillwood's day he would have had them making the tea would he not? This transfer window has a lot of Laurel & Hardy about it doesn't it? I wonder if Stanley is enjoying people making fun of his prized AFC asset?

  3. markymark

    Jun 24, 2019, 19:11 #114212

    If we get Tierney I’d be pleased obviously he does currently have an injury but weren’t most of us looking for defensive players who have been used to the physicality of British football? ( I suspect they are still kicking lumps out of each other north of the Border ) The Torreira loan and compulsory purchase plan appears odd at first but if it does release over 45m eventually then I’d take it. I’d still need convincing over Zaha at 50m+ . One can only presume that the remark Vinai made that Stan could be approached for one of purchases is correct

  4. itsRonagain2

    Jun 24, 2019, 16:03 #114211

    Whatever we call it be it project, plan or whatever, its clear that Arsenals ambition has finally dissipated, if there has actually been any this last 10 years.

  5. Exiled in Pt

    Jun 24, 2019, 13:14 #114210

    Peter that is just crap in the press , there is no way we could afford Zaha , crikey we cannot even offer a sensible price for a decent left back! Amusing to see Brighton signing the lad from Belgium that was as good as a done deal him signing for us a few months back .

  6. peter wain

    Jun 24, 2019, 13:01 #114209

    well we won the double in 70-71 with rice /Radford/ kennedy /storey/ Kelly/ simpson and armstrong all in the team so I am not sure that's true. Why oh why are we buying Zaha when we have Nelson? Dick has no clue of judging a player.

  7. Colonel Blimp

    Jun 24, 2019, 12:45 #114208

    People, we have to remember that it is very rare for clubs to bring through a spine of a side from its youth ranks. From best of memory it's only happened here 3 or 4 times in like 50/60 years (Man Utd 1950's and 90's, us 1980's the two that come immediately to mind). Project youth is a nice way of saying we're skint so we have to try and get some players in on the cheap. I'd agree, why not bump em up, what do we have to lose? They'll either be up to the task or they won't.

  8. John F

    Jun 23, 2019, 19:31 #114207

    Paul James i have read some good things about Ballard and Bielik has been playing well and can operate in midfield or defence.The rumour mill is saying that we are about to offer Kos a new contract.Project oldies is alive and well if true

  9. Pauljames

    Jun 23, 2019, 15:12 #114206

    Bard : Agree recently our record for producing our own is terrible , Ashley Cole being the obvious exception in the Wenger years. The late eighties crop of Rocky, Thomas , Merse , Adams etc showed what can be achieved with youth as did the Utd group of Beckham and the Neville’s. Whether we’ll ever see that type of thing happen again is debatable, and the bottom line is you have to be good enough, whether 18 or 28.Would certainly like to see Willock , Nelson and Rowe given game time but where are the young defenders ?

  10. Bard

    Jun 23, 2019, 11:06 #114205

    If we dont have any money then it would seem to be the only way forward. Historically we have been really poor at 'growing our own'. I have no idea why. I think this policy has other advantages. We arent going to challenge any time soon so why dont we promote some of the kids. The atmosphere at the games would be much better. I have mate who is a mad Chelsea fan and despairs that they never play any of the young ones, despite having a whole crop of exceptional kids. RC and HO are only very recent additions. Why waste money on the likes of a Suarez who dont even want to play for the club. Incidentally I have revised my view of Dick. I dont think he is what we need. Apart from the odd game nothing has changed since Wenger left, the odd great game sandwiched between appalling defensive blunders and capitulations. We are now a fully fledged mid table side.

  11. Pauljames

    Jun 23, 2019, 10:52 #114204

    Seven : If he turns out as good as Van Dyck he won’t be hanging around at Arsenal for too long ! Probably sees us as a reasonable stepping stone to a big club, in the way Virgil saw Southampton . Sad but true.

  12. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jun 23, 2019, 10:30 #114203

    Pauljames : my sentiments exactly regarding Tierney, the club have probably told him how big a part of our future he is and then slap in an offer, which in these days would not get you a decent Championship player (are we sure Arsene has left the club) The Celtic lad may be the next Virgil Van Dyke but knowing Arsenal he will probably be the next Dick Van Dyke - "Good bless you Mary Poppins"

  13. markymark

    Jun 22, 2019, 19:54 #114202

    Big Andy - I’m not a Kronke fan but if you look at Liverpool and Spurs they have bought and sold off Coutinho and Bale. As far as I can see it’s not pure owner money . Even Abramovitch seems to have reigned in. UTD want to spend millions for the sake of spending millions and do so badly. There Supporters are moaning about their success in commercial deals ! Arsenal cannot compete with Sovereign fund money (City) indeed City are putting Real and Bayern’s nose out of joint which is why I suspect they are hitting some choppy waters recently. I just don’t think you are necessarily going to get a new owner who will pump in 200ml of his own money to buy players unless the Nigerian Oil Baron is serious. Unfortunately for us the UK’s richest man supports Chelsea. Personally I’d like to see youth given its head. Overall it does give opportunity for asset growth which is what Ivan and Wenger f’d up. The asset growth will allow us to run far more in line with modern expectations of a football club. If crowds drop I reckon Emery will be chopped btw as the reality is itssll about the football. Play boring unsuccessful football and it’s Emery’s not Kronke’s head on the block

  14. Pauljames

    Jun 22, 2019, 19:29 #114201

    Sounds good in theory , then you read we trying to give Celtic a paltry 15 million for Tierney. It’s difficult to have any confidence in the current regime , no matter which route they choose to go down .

  15. Big Andy

    Jun 22, 2019, 19:08 #114200

    Markymark - Allowing Wenger and Gazidis to waste money is precisely why Kroenke has the responsibility now to spend his own cash on good players. He is responsible for the mess we are in by not sacking Wenger years ago. He finally brought in a new manager; now he must back him with serious funds. If we go down the path of Project Youth 2 then what's the prognosis? A few years as a mid-table team while we wait for the squad to grow up? This is not acceptable for Arsenal Football Club. Kroenke is about to get a massive shock when supporters boycott the club and turn on him. He wants to charge the highest ticket prices in the world and then serve up mediocrity. Even the tourists won't turn up to watch rubbish. What we really need is a new owner.

  16. markymark

    Jun 22, 2019, 18:11 #114199

    Big Andy - I fear you will become very impatient indeed. Can’t see us winning a title within 3 years. May as well let our youth take centre stage as big signings for Arsenal have failed. I did read Raul wants to get us much efficiently out of the “Transition Team” as possible to enable better , bigger signings. But we will see. It’s interesting to see kick back at UTD where a number of UTD pundits want to dismantle and literally turn to youth. I guess they are thinking the UTD pull is fading and they need to do something different. I get that Stan is not great . But he has spent money. The problem was Wenger and Gazidis completely cocked it up. Delivering zero asset growth in a market averaging I’d guess 25% per annum. The Arsenal under their guidance was like a house in a top post code unfortunately suffering with subsidence , rising damp and knotweed. The guy who apparently could have been an economist was completely bleeding useless and left us in a zero growth high salary environment . This will take 2 years to cure minimum

  17. Big Andy

    Jun 22, 2019, 16:06 #114198

    The article above reads like an official offering from Arsenal FC's propaganda department. The truth is that we've waited 15 years for a title and our patience has run out. Project Youth failed last time and three's every chance that it'll fail again. What we really need now is an owner who's prepared to invest his money and his time in making the club great again - and that's not Stan Kroenke. We are going nowhere with this useless rotten owner: the club is a shamble from top to bottom and will not improve until the Yank and his useless son are gone. Just watch this season as the attendances fall during another pointless nine months of failure.

  18. itsRonagain2

    Jun 22, 2019, 12:30 #114197

    Hi Marky - yes, matey youre totally right. Lets face it, when was the last time AFC signed anybody that really set the juices flowing in anticipation? Bergy? Its exactly the older players who are the trouble as you say. Who in that squad could we honestly say that a young player could put his trust in to have his back, support and make him feel vital and integral to the first team? I dont think there is one. No AFC stalwarts type players remain, none have been brought with a view to them becoming pillars of the club over this last 15 years at least. Maybe Wilshere showed signs as a youngster that he would develop that way, but he had his injuries and is generally a bit of a t--t anyway. Its been a club with a squad devoid of character, personality, passion and drive for so many years. There is no driving force or momentum there and hasnt been for many years. Its a club that drowned in its own deluded perceptions of itself, that increased after moving to that stadium. Wengo and the original plasters he brought in and those afterwards all basked in the notion that Arsenal were in some way 'above' other clubs and superior to them, treating them as if Wengos tippy tappy deserved special privileges from the authorities, other players and refs. Many of the clubs fans bought into it too and relished it in fact. Its not surprising that so many other clubs used to kick them to hell and back as well as detesting Wengo. I think to be honest, had i have faced them, i would have been hacking a few down as well! Its this lingering disease that the club is now having to live down and is struggling to do so.

  19. markymark

    Jun 21, 2019, 15:30 #114196

    Hi Ron - I get your point but I’m really struggling to think the last time Arsenal actually signed a seasoned pro who was any good or up to pace. It’s almost as far back as David Platt? Our current experiences players are part of the problem I feel. I’m sure they’ll do their best to blend them however I’m struggling on who’s knocking around and still has sufficient pace. That’s the key VanDyke isn’t massively experienced but has been well coached and has Prem pace

  20. itsRonagain2

    Jun 21, 2019, 14:00 #114195

    All well and good then. The fact is that to build a team of youth players, they need to be supported by good signings of more experienced players. No successful young player based team has ever done it without top players around them. Go right back to the Busby Babes, perhaps the best eg of youngsters being successful. There were 4-5 top quality older heads in that team. Closer to home, Mee s team of 69 - 72 made up of Wrights youngsters who all came through had quality experienced players in it to win a double. The sound project youth does sound good but it needs a top Coach to pull it off.

  21. Exiled in Pt

    Jun 21, 2019, 13:41 #114194

    Project youth and no major signings , is something the majority of us would except , providing the club are going to reduce the price of tickets . Somehow i do not see that happening i will be interested to see what Edu brings to the role as personally , Overmars would of been a better fit .........

  22. Don Howe

    Jun 21, 2019, 11:35 #114193

    Finding people who really know what they are doing is difficult. The USA ladies coach looks like a genius with her super fit team top full of direst cruelty and aggression. But the Swedes stood up to them physically last night and they did not like it one little bit. What I am hoping for next season is some progress in defensive system and in the overall mental strength of the squad as a unit. This depends entirely upon moving Ozil out. When you want to instill some sense you have to get rid of the idiots in the machine. This could get better but now is the time when the suits earn their money. I'm pleased that Freddie is back and Edu is coming back.

  23. peter wain

    Jun 21, 2019, 10:33 #114192

    heard this all before and nothing happens. Other teams spend fortunes and we spend little but who is skint we are. 20 years of champions league membership and we are skint. If we have no money that is down to the owners to rectify by getting funds into the club. The Glazers do it so do Man City and Chelski owners. Only Arsenal are referred to as skint in the national press and it is all down to Stan to busy building LA Rams stadium with our money. You cannot win trophies if you only use players from the academy and no corporate mumbo jumbo is going to change that. There is no point in patience if the direction of travel is down wards.