The talk of the town the last few days has been Jack Wilshere.
I have always felt Wilshere got a bit of a bad deal as he was coming up through Arsenal. He was labelled a bit of a chav purely because he was white working class.
This was an unfair label as whenever he was interviewed playing for Arsenal or England, he came across very well. Clearly he knows the game, speaks well and has been very well behaved.
Yes, there was a few incidents in his adolescent years. Photo’d in nightclubs smoking when out injured, the odd scuffle. But he was still a teenager back then.
What has been obvious for years is that he is a loving father and a good man.
His interview with David Ornstein for The Athletic highlighted this further.
For those who have not seen it he opens up about injuries, his regret on leaving Arsenal and his family. It is well worth watching.
The response from the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe has also been telling.
Prior to Wilshere, Arsenal had not developed a home grown Englishman for over a decade – Ashley Cole being the last to properly make it at Arsenal.
Between Cole and Wilshere, the club developed a lot of youngsters but most were foreign lads bought in between 15 and 18. They were not proper home-grown.
Wilshere became the first in over a decade and, perhaps even more importantly, the first since Arsenal took over the Hale End site.
Both Smith Rowe and Saka have spoken about how Wilshere becoming an important first team player transformed Hale End. That they realised that you cold go from being at Arsenal from 8 or 9 and make it to the first team. That it was possible.
So this interview has started a debate.
Should Arsenal re-sign Wilshere.
There is plenty in the camp of “he is a fantastic player, would be an improvement on Elneny. Give him a pay as you play deal”.
I always laugh when fans talk about “pay as you play” deals like it regularly happens in professional football. It hardly ever happens. If at all.
Then there are plenty, and I am probably in this camp, that think “thanks for the memories but that ship has passed”.
Wilshere talks about how he has been injury free since January 2020. But we have heard this before.
I remember in an interview as an Arsenal player he said had been injury free for the last 6 months of his contract. He then went to West Ham and proceeded to have 3 injury plagued seasons with them.
Wilshere will sadly never be injury free. He might get fit, but he will always break down once game intensity hits.
Last season he played for Bournemouth for the second half of the season, but was released following the end of his 6 month deal. What do they know that no one else does?
My feeling with Wilshere is you have people thinking with the heart or head.
The heart thinkers see the talented guy who dominated the midfield against Barcelona over a decade ago who is Arsenal through and through. The head thinkers see a guy who will never remain fit enough to have a serious impact.
Arsenal should reach out to Wilshere. Offer him the chance to use our training facilities to get and remain fit. We have a history of doing this with the likes of Matthieu Flamini and Jérémie Aliadière.
At the same time we should also offer him an opportunity to do his coaching badges.
Wilshere turns 30 in January. He will not be the first footballer to retire early due to injury and go into coaching. And I think this is best for him if he still has a passion to be involved in football.
This route would be much better for Wilshere’s own mental health.
It is tough constantly going through the process of getting fit, only to get injured again.
He talks in the interview about his son asking why he does not play anymore. Well he can reinvent himself as “Wilshere the Arsenal coach” rather than “Wilshere the footballer with no club”.
I hope Arsenal help Wilshere out, but not with a contract for playing.
Go take his badges, coach at Hale End. Progress through the ranks and one day Wilshere might become Arsenal manager.