Andries Jonker says the continued development of Arsenal’s Hale End youth academy will help the club preserve its identity.
The facility is currently the subject of major construction work, with two new buildings housing changing rooms, sport-science offices and a state-of-the-art classroom.
Four floodlit pitches, including two 4G surfaces, will also be installed and with work set to be completed in February 2017, Jonker is confident the redevelopment will take Arsenal to the next level.
"One of the things I found in my career is that it’s quite important to know where you are, who you are and who you’re playing for"
“You should create the best conditions for the boys to develop themselves,” he told Arsenal Player. “That means good floodlights, good pitches, good changing rooms.
“When I came in it was all fine, but it had been built in the 1930s. With this reconstruction, we’ve made ourselves up to date. We’re living in 2016 and now it looks like 2016. That’s what we had to do.
“One of the things I found in my career is that it’s quite important to know where you are, who you are and who you’re playing for. That’s an important thing. If you look now, it’s not like we are at Arsenal yet, but in a few weeks you’ll almost be able to say that you’re playing at the Emirates. That’s the feeling you want to give the boys. You want them to know where they are and who they’re playing for.
“There are only a few clubs in Europe who have a real identity. Ajax, Anderlecht, Barcelona and Arsenal - you know what to expect. That’s a passing game with us, space for individual quality and creativity, the intention to play football and score goals, and of course we want to win.
“We have an identity and over the years we have been working on that identity. That’s not just me, it’s Liam Brady and his people. We’ve been working for a long time on that identity and that means that everybody knows what’s to be expected.
“This is not something you do for half a year and then you move [on]. It’s not something that you do for two years, then you lose too many games and you move away. This is something you have to build and everybody who knows something about youth football knows it’s a long-term thing.”
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