Once again, Jack Wilshere has been pictured, cigarette in hand, surrounded by girls, partying with friends in a far off destination. Pouring drinks down friends throats. Once again, it has led to criticism in many parts that he is wasting his talent. I have discussed Wilshere’s future numerous times here. That previously, he needed to focus. That he could learn from Aaron Ramsey. unfortunately, I am now wondering whether he is right for Arsenal. Whether he is now on his last chance.
Arsenal as a club is changing. Cash rich, we are now able to attract some of the best in the world. Mesut Ozil & Alexis Sanchez have signed. Sami Khedira could be on his way. We have so much strength in the middle of the park that we were able to turn down Cesc Fabregas. It also means that we are now in a situation where Jack Wilshere is currently not good enough for our first 11, and questions marks are starting to be raised if we even need him in the squad. “If someone wants him for £20m, they can have him” a friend of mine recently said. And I reluctantly agreed.
unfortunately, Jack Wilshere seems to be going down the same route as many other talented Englishmen before him. A brilliant teenage talent, he has struggled to go from being the teenager to a man. He has slipped.
Germany won the World Cup. There has been plenty of chatter since that whilst their players concentrated on football, the English failures were too occupied with tattoos, hair cuts and what birds they were banging. In 2009, England played Germany in the final of the European Under-21 Championship final in Malmo. Germany ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.
Since that game, 6 of the victorious German’s went on to start in the World Cup Final. That day, England lined up: Loach, Cranie, Richards, Onuoha, Gibbs, Cattermole, Muamba, Noble, Milner, Walcott, Johnson. Gardener, Mancienne & Rodwell were the used substitutes. Only Theo Walcott (and to a lesser extent James Milner) has gone on to become a consistent performer and regular starter for a top Premier League side. There is a clear problem in English football in turning talented teenagers into World Class performers.
Explanations for this are numerous. Are youngsters paid too much too young? Are they thrust into celebrity lifestyle rather than concentrating on football? Do they become too concerned with tattoos, hairstyles, booze, birds and partying? I believe a mixture of all of these go into a mixing pot and create a footballer who is often content with becoming a millionaire, whilst not having to try too hard. English footballers are more interested in earning as much as possible, with as little work as possible and getting the girl. Meanwhile their foreign counterparts are driven by success. They want the Champions League, the World Cups, knowing that along the way, they will pick up the millions and the girl.
It is not a new thing. You read the books of Paul Merson, and many others. They trained, and went straight to the pub out partying, they were content. Meanwhile, the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry came across from the continent. They were first into training, and whilst the English lads left quickly to hit the pub or golf course, they would stay behind. It is often said that Lionel Messi trains more, and harder, than anyone else at Barcelona. To become the best, you have to train the best. Natural talent only takes you so far.
This is an epidemic in English football. David Bentley never fulfilled his talent, he is not yet 30 and retired. Even Wayne Rooney, the bright hope of English football, has never really fulfilled his talent. Jack Wilshere, whilst not being as bad as David Bentley, is close to becoming the next Joe Cole, the next Wayne Rooney. Incredibly talented, but never really fulfilled it.
Yes, he has had injuries which have hampered his performance’s since his break through season in 2010, but that was 4 years ago. His best performance in an Arsenal shirt was against Barcelona when he was 19. That was in 2011.
This season could be a defining one for Wilshere. He will be 23 on January 1st. We should no loner be talking about his potential, but about his actual talent. The older he becomes,the more younger players will be breaking through who are performing at a higher level. At an international level, Ross Barkley is 2 years younger. At arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is 18 months younger. Both of these are on the verge of overtaking Wilshere for club and country.
With our new found wealth, we can buy ready made stars. We no longer have to look at a players potential and hope that they fulfil it. If they fail to do so, we can ship them out, buy in better. We no longer have to ‘make do’.
Yes, every player deserves a chance, and Aaron Ramsey showed the benefits of giving a player that chance. For me, Jack Wilshere is on his last chance. He needs to step up, otherwise he could find his Arsenal career being finished.