Thursday, September 2, 2010

The home-grown rule will help us

I'm thinking about the FA's new home-grown rule. When it was first proposed, Arsenal were one of the only clubs who took notice of it. We planned accordingly, and invested heavily in youth. And now that the home-grown rule is in effect, it looks like it was worth the investment. When you consider the number of good-quality youngsters we can call upon, we've actually got one of the deepest squads in the Premier League.

I don't like it - I'd rather we went out and bought a goalkeeper, to be honest - but the bright side is that we're going to get a chance to see our kids play this season. Considering we're three games in the season and we're down to our last central striker, we're definitely going to see the likes of Chuks Aneke and Sanchez Watt fairly soon. And considering the injury-proneness of the rest of our squad, we're going to see the rest of them soon as well.

So it's kind of exciting.

And we probably have a significant advantage over most other clubs. When the games start piling up and the injuries mount, the rest of the league is going to be scrounging around for spare bodies from their academies. The Arsenal, however, will have the luxury of selecting from a cohort who have already had experience in the Carling Cup and have won youth leagues and FA Cups. So it might compensate for our lack of a quality keeper.

I remember the UEFA home-grown rule was one of the big considerations in Football Manager transfer strategy. It meant that I always scoured the world for the best European u-18s, so that they'd qualify as home-grown players. I derived a perverse pleasure from seeing a bunch of young Frenchies qualify as Arsenal home players. Eventually, I stopped buying experienced players and just stockpiled u-18s every year, hoping that some of them would make the grade. It was amazing to see these youngsters, whom I'd plucked from obscurity, turn into world-beaters. Makes you feel really proud.

I guess Arsene Wenger feels the same way.... only in real life.

So on the 235th last day of my 20s, I need to sleep. Been a long day. Wish it was tomorrow already.

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