Arsenal name coaches for U21 and U18 teams

By on July 15, 2022 - 121 views

The Arsenal Youth Academy selected Mehmet Ali and Jack Wilshere as head coaches of their Under-21 and Under-18 squads on July 21.  Ali and Wilshere both had previous relationships with the Gunners.

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Ali will serve as the boss of the Under-21 program as well as serve as the Gunners’ Professional Development Phase Lead. Ali had served as an assistant coach for the U-23 squad since January under Kevin Betsy, who left the Youth Academy after one season to become League Two’s Crawley Town’s manager on June 6. Betsy guided the program to 10-11-5 (41 points) and a third-place finish in the Premier League 2 Division One.  

Same as most football teams want to fits the NFL lines expectations, U18 and U21 have the hopes of living up to the expectations that most Arsenal teams have.

Ali’s main job with the Under-21 club will be player development and maintaining a solid working relationship with Arsenal first-team manager Mikel Arteta. Max Porter will serve as Ali’s assistant coach this year after spending last season on the U18 coaching staff. Porter, who had over 300 caps as a player, has been with the Gunners’ Youth program since 2019. The ex-midfielder registered 25 career goals while playing for a number of lower-division English teams. 

Before coming to AFCYA, Ali spent two-and-one-half years with the Reading Under-23 squad, first as an assistant coach before taking over the program during the 2020-21 season. Ali also has experience with Tottenham Hotspur as a youth development phase coach. 

Jack Wilshere Returns To Arsenal 

Meanwhile, Wilshere is making his first foray into the coaching ranks as the U18 head coach. Wilshere was still a player just a few days before returning home and joining a club with which he is intimately familiar. 

The 30-year-old former midfielder retired from Danish Superliga club AGF on July 8, a couple of days after it was announced that his contract would not be renewed for the 2022- 23 campaign. Wilshere did not record a single point in 14 appearances for AGF.

Wilshere is taking over a U18 program that finished fourth (14-6-6) in the U18 Premier League this past season, behind Southampton, West Ham, and Crystal Palace teams. Adam Birchell, another Arsenal academy graduate, will be Wilshere’s assistant and lead the club’s U17 team.  

Wilshere has been associated with Arsenal since his early developmental stages as a player. At the age of 9, he began his academy playing days with Luton Town in 2001 though he almost immediately jumped to Arsenal’s program, where he toiled until 2008.

Wilshere was given a shot with the Gunners’ first team by former boss Arse Wenger during the 2008-09 campaign. He made his Premier League debut in the 84th minute of a game against Blackburn in September 2008, becoming the youngest player in club history to appear in a competitive match at 16 years and 256 days. Overall, Wilshere spent 10 years with the Gunners, appearing in 197 contests and tallying 14 goals. 

Following the 2017-18 season, Wilshere signed a three-year deal with West Ham but only earned 19 caps in two years before returning to AFC Bournemouth, where he played 27 games during the 2017-18 season on loan from Arsenal, in 2020-21. 

The English national was released following the season’s conclusion and was a free agent until agreeing to terms with AGF earlier this year (February 20). Wilshere finished his professional club career with 18 goals in 288 appearances.

Wilshere also has international experience with the English Junior and Senior National teams. He appeared in 21 contests for England’s junior teams from 2006-2006 and recorded 34 caps along with two goals with the senior side from 2010-2016. 

Arsenal Academy History

Arsenal Academy teams have been pretty successful throughout their history, with 18 trophies. The U18s have won the prestigious FA Youth Cup seven times though the last time was back in 2009. The U18 program also has a FA National Academy Playoff Championship, winning the trophy in 2009-10. While the U21 squad was Premier League champs in 2017-18. They won the Premier Academy League from 1998-1999.

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James Crawford

Promoted to editor in 2016, James has met famous footballing faces from Robbie Savage to John Barnes. Very passionate football fan and writer and has a degree in journalism,

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