Jack Wilshere – Another victim of English hype

by Caylum O'Neill

Jack WilshereFew nations can claim to herald more players as “the next big thing” than England, and following an excellent performance against what could only be called a sub-par Brazil side, Jack Wilshere is set to be the latest player to be seen as such, and will surely lead them to glory in their next major championship, all the while maintaining his fitness and tough-tackling yet skilful playing style. Or so you would believe, had you read an English newspaper this week.

After the World Cup in Brazil, so in a couple of years, I think he will be the England captain. He has everything about his game that a midfielder should have; he scores goals, he creates and he can be strong in the tackle if he wants to.

The above is a quote from Alan Shearer following Wilshere’s performance against Sunderland on Saturday.  While I don’t and never have denied the quality which Wilshire possesses, I do feel that calling him the next England captain after his seventh cap is more than a bit premature. He has only started twice for the national side, neither of which were competitive games, and is blighted persistently by injury. Regardless of ability, both realised and potential, people like Shearer and Steven Gerrard should be less eager to saddle a player with that pressure, having seen countless promising players crumble under it in the past themselves.

The English press can be accused – and rightly so – of hyping a player up too early in his career on several occasions. Michael Owen, a player who, although winning the Ballon D’Or in 2001, never reached the heights people felt he was destined to. A poor spell at Real Madrid and yet another injury at St. James’ Park all but ended any hopes of Owen being the English saviour. Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King were also part of the “Golden Generation” of England players said to be the next to reclaim gory for the Three Lions. Despite having only 29 caps between them, some members of the media believed they should retain their position in the National set up, even at the expense of Jamie Carragher on one occasion. While both King and Woodgate were talented defenders, saying that either of them should have been the first choice centre half above the stalwart Carragher was absurd, given their injury records. A run of impressive performances seems to be all it takes to conceive the next England star, and I believe that this is to the side’s detriment, as it sees established stars drop out of the team to accommodate these starlets.

His ability is not the concern, but rather his fitness and form. Injury has squandered the potential of more players than I would like to think of, and Wilshere is equally as susceptible to it as the likes of Jonathan Woodgate, Ledley King, Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves. The potential destruction his injury could cause is highlighted quite frequently by Arséne Wenger, whose desire for Wilshere to be rested during international friendlies is well documented.

I had in fact expected Jack to play only a part of the game on Wednesday but it didn’t happen and because of his quality he will be exposed to that, the overuse of his quality, you can understand that. We will have to manage him well physically to make sure he doesn’t face that burnout.

In his defence, Jack Wilshere seems to be handling the praise with a fairly level head and not letting it distract him from his game, for now at least. But football is one of the most scrutinised and high-profile sports one can participate in professionally, and thus is a minefield for young talented players. The mines, of course, being injury and off-field antics (step up Owen Hargreaves and Mario Balotelli), and to fulfil his potential Wilshere would need to tread carefully.

If Jack Wilshere adds to the current standard of his performance, maintains his mentality and doesn’t tread on one of the aforementioned “mines”, then he could become the player England and Arsenal have been longing for, but it is far from a certainty, especially at this early stage in his career.

Personally, I think Wilshere might be slightly over rated by domestic media, but if the likes of Steven Gerrard, Alan Shearer and Arséne Wenger believe he is a superstar in the making, then who am I to argue?

5 Responses

  1. Tom Painting says:

    Pep Guardiola ahead of Arsenal Vs. Barcelona: ‘Wilshere is a good player but I have many Jack Wilsheres in my second team.’
    Mario Balotelli just before his move to England when questioned on what he thought on Jack Wilshere. ‘Who? I have never heard of Jack Wilshere’. (I know, it’s Balotelli, but at least you know he’ll be honest).
    That shows you just how highly he’s thought of abroad.
    What is now being said about Wilshere being the England midfield’s great white hope, if you were to cast your memory back a relatively short amount of time, the exact same things were being said about Michael Johnson, Jack Rodwell, Ross Barkley and Phil Jones. In Johnson, Rodwell and Jones’ case purely because of one good run of games, (like Wilshere seems to be on at the minute) and in Barkley just because of hype. If you look at those players now, after bursting on the scene with a good run of games and being hailed as the next England captain, fast forward six years and Johnson is currently without a club following his release from Man City and an unsuccessful loan spell with Leicester. Jack Rodwell now spends most of his time sitting on Man City’s bench and unless he leaves will probably play six or seven games a year. Ross Barkley unfortunately suffered a serious injury that kept him out for around a year, had a decent loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday, and earlier this year went to Leeds on loan, but was sent back because he couldn’t get in the team. Phil Jones is now doing fairly well, he put in a good performance against Real Madrid last week, but he certainly hasn’t played anywhere near the standard of the marauding world-beater that he was made out to be after his initial run of good games for Man Utd.
    I just feel it’s more than likely that Wilshere fade out like everyone else, and soon we will be talking about another young midfielder set to lead England to glory, who will do exactly the same. I’d love it if he were to develop into the next Iniesta, but I just don’t see it.
    On one last note, Guardiola wasn’t wrong about having many Jack Wilshere’s in his reserve team. Thiago Alcantara and Sergi Roberto will both go on to become much greater players than Wilshere. And that’s just in terms of midfielders. It’s almost embarrassing when you see that the brightest prospect on England’s books is this kid Jack Wilshere, when you look at Spain who have Isco, Deulofeu, Juan Bernat. And then when you look beyond prospects into young players who are already world beaters you have Juan Mata, David De Gea, Javi Martinez, Jordi Alba.

  2. David says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/9878484/Dani-Alves-urges-Barcelona-to-make-move-for-Arsenals-Jack-Wilshere.html

    perhaps not so undervalued abroad by everyone.
    wilshere is also streets ahead of rodwell and all the others you mentioned at this stage.
    wilshere is miles and miles ahead of thiago who flatters to deceive every week, and sergio robert wont make it at barcelona

  3. Michael says:

    Agreed it would be nice if Arsenal had a stronger team so He was not relied on so much at the club level also at his age he should be in a rotation of quality players NOT starting every game until he is injured. (the long term injury he has we due to a stress injury (as in over played and playing through lesser injuries) I agree all that is being asked of Jack in hurting his career NOT helping it. But England Like Arsenal are SO short on true creative talent that the first spark of talent and then want to push them straight to he top over night in other clubs and other national teams there is already very talented stars so there is NO hurry to push a young player into the spot light until they are ready.

  4. Michael says:

    Yup and england can;t figure out why their National Team was finished below the US in the WC group stage and was knocked out just like them in the next round.

    At least in the US we are not delusional about the quality of our player pool just because the EPL is one of the best leagues in the world sadly it is the foreign talent that makes it that way.

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