Sunday 22 April 2018

Wenger: Training key for youngsters

Arsene Wenger feels education is key for young players
Arsene Wenger feels education is key for young players

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes greater technical education of young players who "cannot head the ball and have no left foot" over simply just playing matches is key to the development of English football.

A plan of action to increase the number of English players in the Barclays Premier League is expected to be unveiled when Football Association chairman Greg Dyke reveals the findings of his England Commission later on Thursday.

Dyke set up the commission to tackle the issues around the lack of opportunities for English players in the top flight and also focus on the future of the England team.

The findings, including proposals for some clubs to have 'B' teams playing lower-league football, as they do in Germany and Spain, will be announced at Wembley Stadium at 2pm.

Wenger - who earlier this season took charge of his 1,000th match and was one of the hundreds of people spoken to by the commission - believes getting youngsters up to the required standard for first-team football at whatever level should be the priority.

"At the moment with the development of young players in England, you have to balance the training and the competition. For me the competition has too much importance, and the training too little," the 64-year-old French coach said.

"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.

"The sense is made by reducing the competition time and increasing the time in training.

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

"After, what they try to do is to improve the level of competition after the age of 18, when the education is finished. That makes sense because at the moment you have a problem for the people who come out of the academies who don't get the level of competition they need. That is why some clubs have feeder clubs."

Wenger rejects the notion that England just simply do not produce enough players of the highest quality for the national squad.

"We read in the papers at the moment that everyone pushes England to take as many young players as we can (to the World Cup), so you see England still produces young talent," the Arsenal boss added.

"Every single club, despite the big foreign players, the young players come through when they have the quality, and that is what you have to target.

"It is not to fight for mediocrity, it is to fight for quality."

The report from Dyke is also likely to call for a crackdown on the abuse of work permits for non-EU players - the rules state they are supposed to be regular internationals, but that is often not the case.

Wenger maintains having high-quality overseas talent can only enhance the progress of home-grown talent.

"The bigger players we have in England, the more the young players will develop because they develop in contact with those players," he said.

"To get rid of big players would be a massive mistake for the education and quality of the young players - the kid who is good at school, if you put him in a good class he will develop. If you put him in a bad class he will not develop as quickly. In our game it is exactly the same.

"I give you one training session with very good players, and one session exactly the same with average players and you will see two different things, that is why the quality of the development of these very young players is very important."

Following the publication of the report, Labour's Shadow Minister for Sport, Clive Efford, said: "This report focuses the majority of its attention at elite player development - but without improving facilities and the quality of coaching at the grass roots throughout our communities this will all come to nothing."

"At a time when the wealth in the game has been growing at an eye-watering rate investment in grass roots has been going down.

"This cannot continue and the FA and the Premier League cannot continue to get away with this."

Press Association

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