Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have been known to promote young players and give them a chance, more than any other top club in the country. However, off late, the production line has kind of become dry and the number of youngsters that are making through to the first team have been far lesser than in the past. Keeping this in mind, during the summer, Ivan Gazidis and Arsenal appointed Andries Jonker to replace club legend Liam Brady as the head of the youth academy.
However, former youth supremo Terry Burton claims that Arsenal have made a big mistake in appointing Jonker instead of him. Ahead of the game against West Brom, where he is now the Technical Director, Burton said, “I still think they’ve made a big mistake. I think if it wasn’t me, there’s good people out there that they could have put in.
“It’s a massive job. There’s a lot of work to be done there. Arsenal, with respect, have fallen behind. They just weren’t working hard enough, like Chelsea.
“They’ve got the best pathway, because they’ve got Arsène Wenger, who gives young players a chance, better than any other club. But the processes, and things that had just been missing over a period of years, Chelsea had steamed ahead in their recruitment and all aspects of it really.
“That gap can close. But it’s too soon to tell. The guy there … you’ll have a better idea in five years.”
Burton continued putting down Jonker, revealing that he told Ivan Gazidis how big a mistake they were making. He said, “I told him: ‘I think you’re mad. I think you’ve got it wrong. If ever you were going to get it right, I was the best person to do it.’
“I knew the club, I knew the players that we’d got and didn’t have. I knew from under-12s right the way through.
“I went to see Arsène, and Arsène said he’d had nothing to do with it – he hadn’t signed his contract at that time. I told Arsène in the January that I would leave in the summer. He said: ‘Don’t go, I’d like you to stay’.
“But I didn’t want to work under someone else. I was prepared to do it because it was Liam Brady, but not someone brought in from outside.”
However, it does seem that a 52 year old Dutchman would be a more forward looking appointment than a 62 year old Terry Burton, and this is all perhaps someone who was being bitter that he was overlooked for the job over a foreigner. Only time will tell if Jonker is the kind of appointment that will take Arsenal forward or if it’s a big mistake.