Does Wenger's immaturity jibe mean an end to Project Youth?

By Avenell Dave

It's not often I have sleepless nights after a football match.

Seasons come and go, hope spings eternal and there will always be an Arsenal.

But I hardly slept a wink last night, running through the frustrations that this season has thrown up and wondering what on earth we can do to get back to winning trophies.

Losing to T*tt*nh*m is never a pleasant experience, particularly in the context of this season and the prospect of them getting a Champions League place is not worth thinking about.

But it throws up questions about the bigger picture and the things that have been said every season for the past few years.

Arsene Wenger says he believes in the team, that he doesn't want to stifle the progress of those promising Young Guns he has coming through, that he should be judged on the end of the season.

Make no mistake, this is, beyond all others, a pivotal summer for Wenger now.

He has one year left on his contract, a World Cup where his players will, on the whole, be in the shop window and hearing from their international team mates about the fun they have winning trophies at other clubs.

And that doesn't even take into account the possible boardroom shenanigans.

Let's get a few things clear though.

As I said last week, Wenger has been making silk purses out of pigs ears for some time now and while we all get frustrated at his lack of transfer activity or apparent foresight, it's easy to forget that the strategy of the club has restrained him to some degree.

The recent financial figures underline what we all know, that the club wants to pay off its debts as a priority, which doesn't sit well with fans who pay the highest season ticket prices in world football.

We've made progress this season as well. Despite the lack of a trophy or even a final to get us excited, we have become, on the whole, more competitive and pushed on despite a raft of injuries that would have affected others far more than they have affected us.

If we didn't have Wenger's patience, would Alex Song have stayed at the club after some indifferent years before blossoming into the player he has become today?

We all know who the problem players are: those who fail to rise to the occasion, who bring little to the team on a consistent basis; those who have never had the talent to warrant an extended run in the side; those who Wenger clearly doesn't trust to give an extended run to regardless of the injury problems; and those who have never really recovered from serious injuries and whose time at the club must soon come to an end.

The signing of Marouane Chamakh, signed a year after Wenger first wanted him in order to save money, underlines the fact that we may well have to live with Project Youth for some time.

But the truth is, age is but a number.

Sol Campbell showed last night, as he has done most of the time since returning to the club, that determination and fight are competitive instincts you just cannot teach.

Lionel Messi may play for a fine team but he has shown that hunger for years even if he is only now coming to everyone's attention as the best player on the planet.

The same is true, dare I say it, of Shrek R**ney, who never lets his effeort levels drop.

We have some fine players coming through, such as Benik Afobe, Kyle Bartley, Craig Eastmond and Wojciech Szczesny.

What Wenger needs to do now, is blend what he would describe as 'super class' talent with some older heads who know how to raise the game of those around them until those instincts become natural to the majority of those who wear the red and white.

Arsenal forever.