Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger could, you suspect, look up from his desk at the club's leafy Hertfordshire training HQ this morning and find an orderly queue of Premiership and Championship managers waiting to knock on his door.
Last night's humbling 5-1 Carling Cup semi-final defeat to North London neighbours Spurs probably signals the end of competitive football in an Arsenal shirt this season for a clutch of his much-admired youngsters.
For with both the Premier League and the Champions League now at the deadly serious stage, the theory is that Wenger will not be looking to throw any of his teenagers into either the heat of a title battle – or indeed, into the latter stages of the Champions League – after they were found wanting at White Hart Lane.
Indeed, that was his principal point last night – that his players had to be more mature in dealing with Spurs' counter-attacking style.
“My players have potential, but you could see that some players were not completely ready for that,” said the Gunners chief, likewise left to sort out that ugly spat between Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanual Adebayor that made it such a miserable night for the Emirates side.
“We were always running after the score, taking risks and being at risk at to the counter-attack. But it's part of a learning process. When you're a football player you have to deal with disappointments,” added Wenger.
The need for his younger players to grow up and learn their trade may yet convince Wenger to make full use of the last seven days of this month's transfer window and allow a handful of his younger guns to go out on loan – either that or they sit on the sidelines at The Emirates for the next five months and only come out to play in the Premier Reserve League. Something that, on past form, Wenger will look to avoid.
City boss Glenn Roeder – linked to a director of football role at The Emirates in the summer – has already gone on record as suggesting that, when possible, he would like to think that his pal Wenger would look kindly on Norwich. He was, he said, quietly hoping that the Gunners would lose their quarter-final clash with Blackburn Rovers to speed that particular process along.
“So to say that I wish Arsenal had gone out of the cup would be an awful thing to say, but I did have my blue-and-white quartered shirt on sat in front of the TV that night!,” said Roeder last month, tongue only half in cheek.
“But I couldn't say that. All I know is that as and when, if Arsene can ever help Norwich and me I think he will. I think he will. I've got no promises, but I think he will.”
Likewise, he has already made his admiration known for 18-year-old left-back Armand Traore – a “Rolls-Royce of a left-back”. He certainly will have a lengthy queue of suitors. However, as far as Norwich are concerned, the recent arrival of Chelsea's equivalent left-back prospect – Ryan Bertrand – effectively ends that possibility as Roeder used his strong links to Blues' director of football Frank Arnesen to good effect.
If only from the Canary manager's comments in December, he won't stop at Traore. “They haven't got a reserve team – they've just 22, 23, 24 brilliant players who would help any team,” said Roeder.
All of which means picking through Arsenal's Carling Cup squad list to see who is likely to benefit most from a spell at a Norfolk finishing school and who is likely to be kept at The Emirates to act as first team cover for the final few months of the season.
Likewise, they need to fit with Norwich's requirements as Roeder continues to look to bolt another three or four pieces into his spring jig-saw before the window closes.
On that basis, Justin Hoyte might be of interest to Roeder. While not one of the exotic, foreign teenagers, the 23-year-old centre-half stroke right-back has made just one Premiership start this season – the 2-0 home win over London neighbours West Ham United on New Year's Day.
Otherwise, the Londoner has had to settle for an early round of the Champions League and a Carling Cup run. His chances of figuring large between now and the end of the season look slim. And with no immediate movement on the Martin Taylor saga, he could be a possibility.
Though Wenger has muttered that Theo Walcott had not progressed to where he had hoped this season, he looks a little too good to be let out; Wenger may well prefer to further his footballing education at home.
Roeder meanwhile noted on Jimmy Smith's return to Chelsea that he would look for a midfielder of a similar ilk. In which case the Lambeth-born Kieran Gibbs could be another one for the January note-book.
The 18-year-old started the 3-0 stroll against Sheffield United – and pulled many a-string in the heart of that Gunners midfield that night – and was an extra-time substitute in the thrilling 3-2 success at Blackburn in the quarter-finals.
Unable to force his way into Wenger's semi-final squad last night as he bolstered his so-called 'kids team' with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and William Gallas, the England Under-19 midfielder looks tailor-made for a transfer window loan.
The only thing that is certain is that Roeder won't be the only one picking up the phone to Wenger today.
The Emirates switchboard is likely to be jammed.
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