DOUBLE SIGNINGS PAST AND PRESENT
ARSENAL CIRCULAR 128
The overnight news that Arsenal are about to complete the signing from Nigeria of Samuel Chukwueze and Kelechi Nwakali reminds us of the need for ongoing injections of new players and the balance between new signings and youth promotion. A top football team needs both. You cannot survive on signings and you cannot survive on youth. A successful team requires both. We need Ozil and Sanchez and we need Bellerin and Coquelin. We need Jack and Jeff and we need Gabriel and Cech. The arrival of top players is a boost to the collective self belief of the Club and the promotion of youth players further reinforces confidence that the Club is attracting top talent.
Any new player has question marks. Some big signings do not work – Reyes, Jeffers for two – and some youngsters who show great promise often fall short and go off to the lower divisions – Lansbury and Barrett. Top performances from top stars and top youngsters depends on ability and settling in, on families and schools for their kids, accommodation for their parents and on the interplay of personalities at the Club. Some work and some don’t and it is a key aspect of coach and scouts to get the best combinations. So we cannot assume that any one player will work but we are entitled to expect that if AFC remains refreshed and focused and learns from past mistakes that they will stand a better chance than other clubs of success in harmonising the new players with the existing squad.
Certainly spending £7m on two youngsters is a big sum as was £3m on Bielik. Not a criticism at all – more a reflection that the competition for young talent is strong and Clubs are looking all over the world for new talent. This needs people and money and alertness and most of all good judgment so let’s be re-assured that as we look forward to the match on Sunday against Chelsea we are also looking to the future.
Double signings are interesting and at Arsenal we have some experience in this area – past rather than present so let me touch on a few names from the past. In 1955 we signed two players from the same Club at the same time – Vic Groves and Stan Charlton came to us from Leyton Orient for £23,000. Groves – uncle of Perry – was a much talked up young talent. He was a centre forward, sometimes an inside right or left. He was young, well built, muscular with lots of guts and determination. He was loved for his effort and his commitment. He was an Under 21 player and there were expectations he would make it to the full England team but his career was bedevilled by injuries. He was always held back and he never made it to the top bracket. He – like Graham, Ljunberg and Nasri – scored on his debut at home against Sheff Utd. He formed a partnership with David Herd and famously saved us from FA Cup humiliation at the hands of Bedford Town.
His fellow signing was Stan Charlton who was right back. These were the post Wally Barnes days and we were struggling to find a fit. Charlton endeared himself to the crowd with his whole hearted commitment. The two together went down well with the supporters. Less successful were Gordon Nutt and Mike Tiddy who came together from Cardiff City. Enthusiastic but not so talented and their arrival raised questions about the ongoing managerial skills of Tom Whittaker as he struggled to find the success in the mid 1950’s that he enjoyed from 1948 to 1953. But that is another story.
Lets welcome the Nigerian teenagers – Samuel Chukwueze and Kelechi Nwakali and track their progress with the Youth team and the FA Youth Cup – will they be eligible?