Wenger criticises United

Arsenal boss says Red Devils buying success, rather than grooming talents from within

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has accused Manchester United of abandoning the football club's tradition of youth development in pursuit of short-term success.

The Arsenal manager said on Wednesday that United no longer have patience to develop players and instead use their vast financial resources to replenish the squad.

Wenger contrasted United's new approach to Arsenal's philosophy - one geared to producing players, though many are recruited from all over the world as teenagers.

Hector Bellerin established himself as Arsenal's first-choice right-back last season.

Wenger has opted not to sign an experienced holding midfielder this summer because of the progress made by Francis Coquelin.

  • HOME-GROWN STARS NO LONGER THE ANSWER

  • • Manchester United have already spent £74 million (S$158 million) on new players this summer with more to follow, having splashed out £150 million on new recruits 12 months ago.

    • The club's home-grown players have been adversely affected by the influx of talent, with Tom Cleverley (Everton) and Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion) being sold and Jonny Evans likely to leave next month.

    • Of those who came through the Old Trafford academy, Evans and Paddy McNair made the most Premier League starts (12) last season, followed by Adnan Januzaj with seven and Tyler Blackett with six.

Petr Cech has been Arsenal's sole signing of the close season and Wenger will only add to his squad if he can secure a world-class player.

"We want to continue to combine stronger financial resources with faith in our philosophy and policy," the French manager said.

"That means we want to continue to give chances to young players and build the players from inside our club with our culture.

"Afterwards, if we can buy the exceptional players, we can compete today. But that will not be the basis of our policy.

"Most successful clubs have done that well. You can take Barcelona or Man United, who had a generation and built their success on players who came from within. These are our values and it is our DNA and it's important we keep that.

"With United's success, they have created huge financial resources and today there is no patience for them to continue to do what they did... they've the financial resources to go with a different policy.

"As well, they do not have available the players like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham inside the club, because youth talent is spread more through 20 clubs than it was 20 years ago."

United manager Louis van Gaal has spent £74 million (S$158 million) on new recruits this summer.

United spent £150 million last summer in the wake of their club-record £37 million signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea the previous January. And though they succeeded in returning to the Champions League by finishing fourth in the Premier League, the new signings produced mixed results.

Radamel Falcao's loan spell from Monaco was not extended and he has since joined Chelsea. Angel di Maria is in the process of being sold to Paris Saint-Germain for a substantial loss. Luke Shaw made little impact after his £32 million signing from Southampton.

Opportunities given to United's home-grown players such as James Wilson and Tyler Blackett receded as the season progressed.

Wenger is confident that Arsenal can challenge for the Premier League title this season.

He also insisted that his players do not have a psychological problem when it comes to facing Chelsea, despite not having beaten a team managed by José Mourinho in 13 attempts.

"Our heaviest defeat last season was 2-0. It was against Chelsea. We have reduced the gap and I believe we are ready to go further."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2015, with the headline 'Wenger criticises United'. Print Edition | Subscribe