Saturday, June 15, 2024

Jonker rings the changes but worrying trend needs reversing

It was announced yesterday that, as expected, the appointment of Andries Jonker as Arsenal’s new Head of Youth Development will be the precursor to several other changes amongst the club’s coaching staff at youth level.

Frans de Kat, who has worked with the Dutch national youth teams, will take charge of Arsenal U18s next season alongside current U16 coach Kwame Ampadu. Another Dutchman, Jan van Loon, will take control of the U16 side. The major surprise, however, was the announcement that Steve Gatting will be retained as the club’s U21 coach, where he will be joined by current U18 coach Carl Laraman.

Both Gatting and Laraman have come under considerable criticism from regular watchers of Arsenal’s youth fixtures this season for their coaching methods and the incredibly disappointing sets of results that have occurred in the U21 and U18 leagues this season.

Arsenal did manage to reach the latter stages of the U21 Premier League Cup, the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup this season, and they still have a chance of winning the latter competition, but their league form has been little short of abysmal at both age groups.

The U21s are in 18th place in the league, having registered just five victories in 17 games this season. They have lost three games in the past seven days alone, suffering disappointing defeats at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton Wanderers and Everton.

The U18s have fared even worse. They are ninth out of the 11 teams in their group, having won six games out of 27, conceding 43 goals in the process.

It must be stressed that results are not always the most important factor at youth level, with player development taking precedence, but there comes a point when you wonder whether losing so many games could potentially have an adverse effect on the progression of some players.

There are some mitigating factors, with players often being unavailable to feature at youth level due to injuries, loans, international commitments and first-team call-ups, whilst the Arsenal U18 side is often predominantly made up of schoolboys, with many of the scholars already firmly established in the U21 set-up.

That said, the decision to retain both Gatting and Laraman would appear a rather strange one. Neither appears to have the coaching credentials to match their predecessors, Neil Banfield and Steve Bould, whilst the fact that many players make the same mistakes week after week without them being rectified is another cause for concern.

Jonker’s decision is a surprising one, particularly with Terry Burton departing this summer, but only time will tell whether his selections are correct.

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


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Might jusr be a short term arrangement. New coaches might be brought in as the new generation of u-18 move up to u-21.

Limp Bar

The focus should be more on the u18s anyway in my opinion. The u21 team is always used to blood youngsters, give players coming back from injury a run out, and regulars are often those who have (likely) missed the boat at Arsenal. It much harder to have a settled team.

The u18s is a much bigger concern to me, and I am personally glad that the focus for the time being is on this age group and younger.


How long ’til Bergkamp? Hopefully all these Dutchies are just warming up the waffle machine and building the windmills ready for God’s return.


Cannot believe how many Dutch Stereotypes you Clog-ged in that one post.


In my opinion he’s being tulip-py


Gouda one


I, for one, say high to Dutch stereotypes


Get Dennis and Overmars back home!


YESH! Shoon I hope


Steve McClaren reads Arseblog news?

Vieira's Telescopic Legs

I don’t really have any deep knowledge of our youth set up, but that isn’t going to stop me from posting an angry, narrow-minded comment, only for me to 180 degrees reverse my opinion as soon as we have a good result.


You either lose loads of games because the players are not good enough or the coaches are not upto it or both. But clearly something is wrong in the youth setup at the club and maybe this is the first in a series of steps to put things right.


Arsene is making sure Arsenal are “institutionalized” like Ajax and Barca’s academies are. (Except we won’t be cunts like Barca)

The Dutch are the best at bringing up technically good young players. Overall Arsene’s legacy will be more than Ferguson’s, the man has set the club up to be super successful in the future. He won’t leave us in a mess like old Red Nose.


It’s so sad to see what some of the Arsenal fans are saying about Wenger nowadays. The man could have left for Barcelona or any of the world’s top clubs during his tenure. He stayed through even when Dein was let go. He stayed through even when he understood that there will be financial restrictions to pay off the stadium. He knew all that and yet stayed and kept the club competitive. The man, once hailed as perhaps the best in the world, chose to stay with the club and got us through for the last 9 years to pay… Read more »

theopants superstar

Yeah, and all for just £7m a year and with no pressure to succeed from the bosses or, it seems, the majority of fans. How has the man been so self-less?


that’s the point most of us don’t get mate. Who says there was no pressure? So, if your boss says that by the end of this month instead of bringing business worth 20Mn your target is to improve the profit margin by 20%, will you not have any pressure? The expectation of the board must have been – stay in the champions league even if we don’t give you a single penny to spend, and even if in the mean time chelsea and Mancity spend like they have a money tree in their backyard. Imagine that pressure. On top of… Read more »


He could have got more if he accepted the offers from PSG/Real Madrid though..
Of course he has a high salary, he’s one of the most sought after managers in the world.

Just because he makes a lot of money doesn’t mean he hasn’t been incredibly loyal.


I totally agree with you, JC. I think that Wenger should be allowed to stay for as long as he likes – even if it is clear that he is now incapable of wining the title or the Champions’ League ever again.

We should also re-sign Berdkamp, Henry, Pires, Vieira and Campbell. They are all past it too, but they also deserve new contracts based on what they did a decade ago.

What we absolutely must not do is look to the future and bring in the talent which could make are a great team again.

That would be stupid.

The ghost of Peter Storey

Totally agree JC. This is the start of AW’s third phase at Arsenal – the phase where he stats to win things again and leaves a legacy that Chapman would be proud of.

Bobby the beast

Bloggs, is that your voice I hear on the trivago advert?!?!



theopants superstar

You telling us that despite reassurances, the players haven’t ‘learned’ from all the previous debacles?


The bottom line is that a lot of our young players just aren’t very good. Those that are have usually been signed as 16/17 year olds, rather than coming up through the ranks. That’s what needs to change. You look at the talent that we actually produce and it’s nowhere near in line with what you’d expect from a club this size.


Gibbs / Sczcz / Jack… I see your point, but still – to have three ‘proper’ youth team players in a clubs XI isn’t that common. Off the top of my head I can only think of Southampton who would have more.

Oh, and I guess Liverpool would have roughly the same as us – Gerrard, Stirling, Flanagan.

The ghost of Peter Storey

I’m not overly familiar with the quality of the youth players, but maybe they’re just a bit rubbish? These things go in cycles and we can’t expect to be the best all of the time. The good thing is that Arsene is not accepting the status quo and is making changes.

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