Early Doors

Arsenal’s future in safe hands?

Early Doors

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"The future is in safe hands" - Arsene Wenger, November 11 2008

Yesterday evening, Early Doors escaped its minders for long enough to tunnel out of its cage, hail a local rickshaw and make for the Emirates Stadium.

There, it saw an Arsenal team with an average age of 13.42 wipe the floor with a full-strength Wigan side.

It was a remarkable, thrilling spectacle - but Arsenal's Carling Cup team is the reason they will never win anything meaningful again.

Put simply, the teenagers are so good that they already merit first-team action. And, as he brings them through, Arsene Wenger will continue to flog established players.

When Emmanuel Adebayor comes to Wenger demanding a bumper new contract, why should his pay demands be met when there is Carlos Vela (pictured) waiting in the wings to replace him?

And when Milan and Barcelona bid each other into a frenzy over Cesc Fabregas, surely Wenger should just take the £30 million and run when he can replace him with any of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Fran Merida and the only man in the Premier League who sounds like he has come fresh from a Swiss finishing school, Henri Lansbury?

Wenger has such faith in the future that he neglects the present.

He has already dismantled a team that went through a whole season unbeaten to make room for emerging players - and more recently he lost Mathieu Flamini on a free to Milan.

Patrick Vieira had to be sold in 2005 because there was a new midfield leader coming through, Fabregas.

The theory was that, in order for Fabregas to grow into the role, Vieira had to move on. All very well, except that at that time little Cesc still needed a note from his mum to stay out late on a school night.

Fabregas is brilliant, no argument. But surely he, and Arsenal, are better when he is playing alongside one of the greatest players in Premier League history, not the 20-year-old Denilson?

Vieira and Thierry Henry might have been past their best, but did Arsenal really improve when they left?

Since leaving Highbury, incidentally, Vieira has never failed to finish first in Serie A with either Juventus or Inter (admittedly Juve were stripped of two titles because of their frankly rubbish efforts to influence referees).

The Invincibles benefited hugely from having 30-somethings like Sol Campbell, Dennis Bergkamp and Jens Lehmann.

Now their most experienced player, William Gallas, appears to have all the maturity of a pre-school birthday party.

Wenger's trust in his youth system is so absolute and his refusal to sign star players so stubborn that, while he is obviously a genius, he is also compromising his team's progress. He is like a boxer beating up opponents with one hand tied behind his back.

To stretch the boxing analogy beyond breaking point, Arsenal can batter football's answers to Amir Khan and Audley Harrison with sublime ease and grace.

But when it comes to Joe Calzaghe or Floyd Mayweather, they simply lack the punching power to match up over the course of a 12-round season.

Yes, they beat Manchester United at the weekend, but does anybody really think they will win either of the two pieces of silverware that really matter - the Premier League and Champions League?

Wenger needs to be bound, gagged and thrown into an unlit broom cupboard while the Arsenal board - led by Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, who has an even posher name than Henri Lansbury - spend £50 million on a couple of world class players.

Not even obscure ones - blindingly obvious signings, the like of which would utterly horrify Wenger.

We know that Gareth Barry has his price - pay it. And Gianluigi Buffon must be fed up of playing in front of half-empty stadia and finishing fourth with Juventus - surely he would fancy playing in front of a packed house and finishing fourth with Arsenal?

Sign Karim Benzema or Franck Ribery or Samuel Eto'o or Xabi Alonso or Lionel Messi or Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Wayne Rooney. Anyone, just as long as they are famous, expensive and good.

Only when these big names are in place can Wenger then be released from imprisonment and allowed to coach his improved side to glory. Then Arsenal's future really will be in safe hands.

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LOOK AWAY NOW JOE COLE: Following in the grand tradition of Harry Kewell's missus and that one off Hollyoaks who used to go out with Cristiano Ronaldo, Joe Cole's WAG Carly Zucker has decided to prove she is more than a pretty face by spending several weeks in the company of Esther Rantzen and Robert Kilroy-Silk eating kangaroo penises.

The Sun's I'm A Celebrity preview describes Zucker thus: "Joe Cole's other half, she will be nipping to the jungle shower three or four times a day, while hidden ITV cameramen try to get a shot of her boobs." The Sun also asks of Ryan Gigss's ex Dani Behr: "Does a Behr s*** in the woods?"

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "In the last week I have been left out of two games. I don't know why and I think Manchester City fans have a right to know. That's why I'm here publicly saying to the fans, and people at the club who like me, that I'm very unhappy and sad. When I am playing I know what he [Mark Hughes] wants but when I come off there is nothing from him." Understand, City fans - Elano is only pulling a massive hissy fit for your benefit.

FOREIGN VIEW: 'Crisis', 'Shame', 'What's going on?' - The Madrid press agree that Real Madrid's Copa del Rey exit at the hands of third-tier Real Union Irun was less than impressive.

COMING UP: More Carling Cup action including Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham among others. Follow all three games live from 19:45 UK time.

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