In the modern game more and more footballers who are past their 30’s are treated like they dont matter to the teams anymore, like they cannot contribute anymore. Is that really true? Well lets look at some examples shall we. Lets start in Italy with a player by the Name Pirlo, AC Milan let him go thinking he is past is prime after all he was 32 years old. What did Pirlo do? He simply joined Milan’s rivals Juventus and almost single handedly led the team to an unbeaten season and if that wasn’t good enough he guided Italy to the finals of Euro-12. Not bad i would say for a player considered to be past his prime.
lets talk about Manchester United now, lets talk about Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Utd in the middle of last season had a crisis in midfield. Carrick though was doing his best could not cope on his own, so ideally most clubs would go to their deep pockets splurge on a highly rated midfielder, but Ferguson did not do that, he got Scholes out of retirement and the rest of last season is history, though Utd did loose the season on Goal difference their performance that season was still commendable and they have carried forward the form to this season with the same group of players including the legendary Giggs who now is the only player to have scored in every season of the premier league and continues to torment defenses with not his pace anymore but his experience.
Why does this experience matter? Lets talk about a club like Arsenal shall we, who by far have the brightest group of youngsters in Europe and have had the same for quite sometime now. So what is stopping these youngsters from dominating Europe, its simple, lack of experience. Let’s look at the players who have left Arsenal because of their policy of giving only 1 year contracts to players who are 30 and above, Viera, Pires, Ljunberg, Henry, & Gilberto to name a few, that right there is a championshiop winning team. In Utds Champions league victory against Chelsea in 2008, Paul Scholes was the first person on the team list, Ryan Giggs was the man who scored the Decisive peanlty and this is exactly what Aresnal lack, a player who has the experience to rise to the occassion, who has defended premier league titles, who have played the big cup finals, a player who is a leader and who leads by example. Having a pool of talented youngsters is always amazing but if you do not have the experience on the field to channel all that talent and energy in the right direction you might just land up becoming a breeding ground for talented footballers who use the club as a springboard to greatness.
The Frank Lampard situation at Chelsea is such a pity, the man who now plays every Chelsea game like its his last still gives every game his best inspite of knowing the club does not need him anymore, you have got to respect the man for his commitment but what does this do the club? what does this do to all those players who are approaching their 30s at Chelsea, will they trust the club enough to commit their longterm futures to the club or will this become an example of how the club plans to treat its older players.
Well in this day and age of football with the pace of the game rapidly increasing i agree it becomes tougher for the past generations to cope with the game, but that does not mean they have no role to play at all. The most successful teams in the modern era be it Man Utd, Barcelona, Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus etc; have all been this successful because they have always had the right mix of experience, talent, youth & pace and the faster the new rich boys on the block realize that the bigger their chance to succeed.