I’ve been ill this week. Which has been a little debilitating, but also annoying.
Debilitating, well, because that’s what being ill is. But annoying because, despite having been thinking about it for ages, I never got around to writing about why people are expecting too much from Jack Wilshere, too soon. And then he played for England on Tuesday night, in a performance which has attracted some media criticism. And then, as surely as flies pile in on the mess a dog leaves on a pavement on a sunny day, that criticism has attracted criticism from various Arsenal bloggers- rightly so, in my opinion. Righteous though it may be, it either dilutes my point, makes me look like a Johnny come lately, or in fact makes me look right on the ball. I’ll let you decide which.
I’m not going to spend too much time on it now, though, I think enough has probably been said. If not by people with more writing skill than I have, then by people with a larger reach. I am just going to say this. A friend of mine commented on Facebook on Tuesday that he’d never got the fuss with Jack Wilshere. I pointed out to him that Jack had missed two years of football. Two years, that as a young man, would have been fairly crucial in his development. Two years that, who knows, may have seen a midfielder of prodigious talent become one of genuine top quality (I didn’t say all of this, obviously). Lest we all forget, when Arsenal beat Barcelona (AKA the Best Team In The World. Ever) on a tumultuous night in north London- I know, I was there too- it wasn’t Cesc Fabregas the Barcelona players were raving about. It wasn’t Andrei Arshavin, or even Samir Nasri. And it definitely wasn’t what’s his name, the guy that used to play up front for us? No, it was Jack Wilshere. And then…. and then, he got injured.
Though I would certainly concede the point made elsewhere on this website that Arsenal may have a slight tactical dilemma in terms of working out where Wilshere best fits into the team, it’s difficult not to think that a fully firing Wilshere would be one of the first names on the team sheet every week. But he isn’t fully firing. Rather than consider our alternatives, you all know them, I’d like to look at why that is. And, for me, the presence of Aaron Ramsey, currently tearing it up on a Premier League pitch near you is a clue so big, you can almost see Columbo pausing at Mr Wenger’s door and saying,
“Ah, Mr Wenger… one more thing.”
Yes. We have seen Aaron Ramsey spend a year out of the game, battling back to full fitness, and taking two years to get to a level Arsenal fans expect from their first teamers. So, might we not look at Jack Wilshere, back from an injury nightmare that lasted the best part of a year and a half and think, “you know, I understand why Jack isn’t quite there yet”? His talent should not be in doubt, nor should his application. Anyone who has ever played sport at any level, and missed large periods of time through injury, knows that you don’t just come back as good as new. And this is the Premier League, for God’s sake! The bestest, most intensest, league in the world. Ever. Aaron Ramsey’s brilliant performance against Fenerbahce (ran t’ings, scored two goals) came almost a year to the day that an Arsenal season ticket holder turned around to me and sneeringly asked “I suppose you think Aaron Ramsey’s a good player, don’t you?” as if I was some kind of idiot for thinking that he was or, at least, could become one again.
I hope you enjoyed those two goals, Adrian, if you were even there.
Aaron Ramsey shows us, not only what it takes to get back from injury, but also what else is possible, if you; a) are good enough and, b) want it enough. Does anyone, Arsenal fan or media man, really believe that Jack is lacking in talent or desire?
Anyway, I think I got bit carried away there, sorry. Speaking of Aaron Ramsey and how he made a comeback some thought beyond him, showing immense mental strength in the process, it was funny to hear Gervinho blaming everyone but himself for his failure in north London over the last two years. The poor lamb was played out of position, he didn’t have the confidence of the coach, etc… Well, Gervinho, bearing in mind the one on one chances you missed de rigeur and the continued inability to dribble without running the ball out of play, I think it’s fair to say that Arsène was not the only one who lost confidence in you. I think that any Arsenal fan who watched you not only fail to hit the target from 4 yards at Bradford, but fail to hit the ball at all, lost confidence in your ability to do, well, anything. So, it’s no surprise to read comments that, guess what?, totally miss the target. I guess it’s what Gervinho does.
I had something else to say, I promise. I didn’t come here just to rant at how unforgiving the average football fan, not to mention the football media can be- I just can’t remember what it is right now. Mesut Özil, maybe? No, not today. His debut is an exciting prospect though, right?
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