I was browsing my Twitter feed on Tuesday night. I needed some relief, some form of minor entertainment to remove the stress after viewing a dismal display by England in their goalless draw against the Ukraine. A tweet caught by eye and I saw that an argument was brewing – Piers Morgan unsurprisingly was involved.
Former Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich midfielder, Dietmar Hamann, had sent out a tweet. It read, “England media hyped up Wilshere to be world class when he’s a talent, no more”.
This angered me. I am not even an Arsenal fan, though admittedly I do have a soft spot for them. I am merely a Jack Wilshere fan. It is difficult when a person, whoever it may be, knocks back someone that you look up to. This could be in anything throughout your life, an actor you enjoy or even a friend. I was annoyed. I myself have on numerous occasions stated that Jack Wilshere is a world-class player. As I am someone who often does not like to be proven wrong this only added to my frustration.
I felt it was prudent to read more into Hamann’s tweets. To my annoyance, I suddenly began to realise that the German may have had a point.
England against Ukraine were struggling, a particular focal point being the midfield, consisting of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wilshere. Player’s who are usually so commanding in centre of the pitch, for their respected club’s and country, seemed lost. Time after time they were caught losing possession of the ball and handing it back to the opposition. It was clear to those of us who possess even the most minute footballing knowledge that something needed to be done to revive England. The only prudent selection, I felt, was the introduction of Michael Carrick to the field. The Manchester United man is not the most extravagant of players, yet he is reliable and gets the job done.
If I were to compare him to Wilshere, I would back Wilshere all the way. Wilshere brings creativity, energy, plays with passion and real leadership to a side, something you may not expect from a young man of 21. Carrick is the kind of forgotten hero of a side at times. He performs his defensive duties impeccably, whilst carefully balancing the midfield, picking out key passes to dictate the tempo of the game.
I now refer you to a second tweet, that was posted before the one quoted above, from Hamann that reads, “Wilshere is world class, done nothing in the game, yet Carrick is a vital part of United, won 5 leagues and CL [Champions League] and is not even considered”.
If I was to compare Wilshere being world-class to Carrick, again I would pick Wilshere. Some people may like to compare world-class players by the way they play and perform in matches, whereas others like to compare stats. I now think that this idea of Wilshere being a world-class player is too soon and may have stemmed from the Arsenal fans. This is not a criticism.
Arsenal used to be one of the most feared clubs in world football. They have achieved great success under manger Arsene Wenger and are infamous for their creative and effortless style of play. However, they are also infamous for their recent demise. Eight years without a trophy. It seems too painstakingly long ago for Arsenal fans that players with such brilliant talent stepped foot onto the pitch, representing the Gunners. Henry, Bergkamp, Viera, these are household names within Arsenal. These are the players that Arsenal craves for, but unfortunately now lack due to an absurd transfer policy of sell, sell, sell.
In comes Jack Wilshere. He has been with the club since the age of nine. He is English born. He won the Young Player of the Year award in the 2010/11 season. He is a Gooner through and through. He also happens to be an excellent footballer and fits perfectly into Wenger’s tactics and the way Arsenal are known for and should be playing. Arsenal fans look upon him as an almost saviour of the club. They are unhappy with the way the club is being run and rightly so. A club that has achieved so much success and the likes of a fantastic new stadium in the Emirates should be progressing forwards, not backwards. Wilshere is the backbone of the club. He dictates the play; those exciting driving runs forward from midfield set the stadium alight.
As a result of this hype and attention, this has now transferred over to England. England are lacking world-class talent, players needed to challenge the likes of Germany, Spain and Brazil for World Cups and European Championships. With many players being scrutinised in the England squad, it is fair to say that to a certain extent, Rooney and Wilshere have that real cutting edge trait that England needs. Gerrard too, but it wont be long before the captain finally hangs up his boots. There is a lot of expectation for England to deliver with such few options to turn to. When they do not, the blame needs to be pointed somewhere. Rooney has received his fair share over the years. The manager will always crop up. Does this mean that when it’s not Rooney, Wilshere will be the target? Can this be fair for a man who must feel like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, with pressure at Arsenal and England to perform?
Wilshere is a talent. An English talent and we are extremely fortunate to have him in the side. Is he world-class? This remains to be seen. The potential is there and I strongly believe that he will be. He has seen many setbacks in his career; his ankle injury is continuing to be a persistent problem. It is important to nurture him and continue to develop, both at club and international level. He has players around him that are capable of helping him to achieve, the likes of Santi Cazorla and most recently Mesut Ozil and Arsenal. Players who are world-class and a standard that I am sure he hopes to achieve. I am confident that he can absorb this pressure and will continue to grow at all levels of football and excel as a footballer and as a person.
I would like to close with a final tweet posted from lifelong Arsenal supporter, Piers Morgan in response to Hamann’s comments. He replied, “Let’s face it, nobody naming the greats of the game goes ‘Best, Zidane, Pele, Messi, Ronaldo…Hamann”. It will be interesting to see in years to come, should Wilshere join his list.