Friday, February 3, 2023

Brady replacement required for struggling Arsenal U21s

It has certainly been a whirlwind few days for Isaac Hayden. Last Saturday the promising youngster, who can play at centre-back or as a defensive-midfielder, was drafted into the first-team squad for the final pre-season friendly against Manchester City in Helsinki. Although the 18 year old only featured for the last two minutes at the end of the game, his mere presence in the squad was something of a landmark in his fledgling career.

Last night, however, he was brought back down to earth after receiving a red card for a late challenge during an U21 friendly away to Colchester United. To compound matters for Hayden and his team-mates, Arsenal lost the game 5-1 against what was essentially Colchester’s own development squad, with four of the goals that they conceded coming before the red card.

The defeat to Colchester concluded what has been an arduous pre-season for the second-string, who conceded 22 goals in their five warm-up fixtures, including seven in one game against Luton Town. A significant improvement will be expected when the U21 Premier League season commences with a trip to face Stoke City on Monday night, but genuine concerns have been expressed about the lack of options available at this level following the decision to release a horde of youngsters at the end of last season.

Especially with players such as Serge Gnabry, Gedion Zelalem and Chuba Akpom hoping to make the first-team squad for some fixtures this season, options are likely to be rather thin on the ground for coach Steve Gatting, who has been forced to call upon many first and second year scholars during the pre-season programme.

Results are not always the most important aspect of U21 football, with player development taking precedence, but continuous heavy defeats can hardly be of benefit to the morale of these young players, and, it seems, some rather significant changes are required if the situation is to ameliorate in the near future.

That could involve yet another overhaul of the coaching staff, with Gatting, despite having previously done an impressive job with the U16s, failing to prove his credentials since succeeding Terry Burton as U21 coach, with the 54 year old often making bizarre tactical decisions and deploying key players out of position.

A decision also needs to be made imminently on who will replace the outgoing Liam Brady as the club’s Head of Youth Development, as, until a successor is appointed, it will be very difficult to clearly establish the long-term aims of the Academy. There has been speculation that Romeo Jozak, the current Dinamo Zagreb Academy Director (pictured above), may be the man to replace Brady, but it is hoped that, in any case, this situation is rectified as quickly as possible.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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What sort of experience/qualifications do you need to be Head of Youth Dev? Maybe we could get one of the old legends to do it, didn’t Zidane do it for Real Madrid?

fooled you all

The main qualification to work under Wenger is to be a yes man/arse licker


Not enough players, huh. Sounds like our first team…

Diaby's ankles

At least we are consistent…


Not taking any credit away from the lad, but if we are using these sort of players right now, I really dont understand why noone is saying to arsene “alright arsene? Is it just me or do we seem to have half the squad of last season? And we really struggled to get that 4th spot? Maybe its time to spend some fucking money…”


Too many crappy young foreign kids getting paid huge sums of money for very little talent. Arsenal need to go back to the drawing board.


What difference does it make if they’re foreign? What matters is how good they are at football.

Harry rednapps dog

What are the smoking over there at the u21s


Shouldn’t Brady’s replacement been introduced as soon as possible? The Academy is supposed to be the bedrock of our sustainable model. Producing young talent such as Wilshere after every 2 years.


Yes we should, but Wenger does not want to bring someone in to replace him as it will stifle the development of the likes of Steve Gatting……


Brady does not leave until next year. Can’t really have 2 people in one job for a year. Wouldn’t happen in any other workplace.


yes it does. you inform your management that you will leave the company, and your replacement is brought in prior to that so you can train him/her. thats what a top organization does.


Ajp, Hayden is English, and most of the best academy players are foreign.


Then how were they slaughtered by Colchester a team entirely English. LMAO you are ludicrous.


You don’t make much sense. What has nationality got to do with it? Are you one of these people who thinks we need a “good British spine”?


Well the whole club seems to be in turmoil….
Damn, I sound like a Daily Mail writer.


One of our legends could very well be doing the job if our profit obsessed yank board gave a fuck about football. Patrick Vieria was expecting the role of “Head of Youth Dev” at Arsenal. Offer never came and so he ended up joining Mcfc.


Wrong. Citeh offered him a playing contract, then gave him a coaching role, then appointed him as head of youth development. Wenger indulged himself in a youth project and ensured most of our leaders on the pitch had f*uck all connection with us after the age of 30


Is the “yank board” you talk about the one that has 1 American director out of 5?


Jeorge, always interested in reading your updates on the Arsenal youth teams. Does anyone know why Gatting took over the U21’s from Terry Burton? Burton seemed to be doing quite a good job with them, I know he is also the head development coach, has he been focusing more on this and so relinquished the match day U21 duties to Gatting? Gatting really seems to be struggling to make them competitive, albeit with much less players to chose from than what Buton had last season.


Burton is Reserves & Head Development coach now

Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.

At least we’re making savings on the wage bill so we can install some solid gold urinals for the Diamond Club bar.

Hey, what is your real name?

Mike Hunt



I don’t understand?


“…often making bizarre tactical decisions and deploying key players out of position”

Are we still talking U21?


Not enough talented players in the U21 squad too huh, sounds like wenger’s ideology is indeed running through the club.God help us because we’re sure as hell not helping ourselves.

Lenny The Pep

Reading this morning Walcott was stretchered off at England training. Couple more injuries and we’ll be forfeiting games unable to field a full 11.


What is new here? Someone please enlighten me.

glory hunter

wow this is not good at all.
I guess, it’ll be Kos & Mert in the league cup games as well.

with the left and the right

It amuses me to read comments that suggest that Wenger is completely oblivious about what is going on inside a club he’s been in charge of for the last sixteen years. This is why football fans are the dumbest sports fans in the world, they honestly believe that 9/10 times they know more about the state of the club better than the people whose actual job it is to be involved with the running of the club day in and day out.


we had a guy doing doc management for 3 years on a project I worked on. in 2 months, his replacement discovered several glaring errors and oversights that no one (the DM guy, the project managers, the engineers, etc) had noticed. sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference in the world. ever tried editing your own writing? again, someone with a fresh perspective can offer insight that, no matter how obvious, you sometimes overlook. please explain how arsene is somehow immune to the basic flaws of the human character.


Don’t know if it is the current state of football or just Arsenal, but releasing so many young players before 21 years of age seems to be a bit harsh compared to the days when players had till their early 20s to prove themselves. Ian Wright did not show his quality for Crystal Palace till his mid 20s.


Dennis Bergkamp. Would be gutted to see him leave Ajax but he would be the way forward.

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