During the game on Saturday morning I found myself getting more and more frustrated with our little English dynamo.
And it crossed my mind to write today’s Post about Jack Wilshere and some of the things about him that annoy me.
Among others – based on the performance against Manchester City – they included sloppy passing, bad positional play, tracking back like Denilson on Valium and appalling body language.
The last was the most annoying.
When will Jack learn that the correct response to being tripped, or to losing possession of the ball in a tackle and ending up on your arse is NOT to lie on your back emanating frustration, disenchantment and victimhood? The correct response is to bounce straight back up and get back in the game, thereby minimising the disadvantage you have caused to your team.
It’s true that Jack is fouled disproportionately often (although that may have something to do with the style of his play); and it’s true that – at times – it may be necessary to try and make sure the referee knows you have been fouled; but the default position should be to spend as little time out of the game as possible.
Lying on the ground sulking means you are not in the game. And not being in the game can have bad consequences.
I won’t criticise a player just for having a bad game – they all do at times. But emanating more negative vibes than Leonard Cohen performing a Smiths tribute is just not acceptable.
Jack had a bad game on Saturday and compounded the problem by behaving immaturely: flipping off the home fans was simply the icing on a cake made of petulance and poo.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I decided not to write a Post about why Jack has been getting on my nerves lately.
And I’m not going to.
Apart from anything else, I believe in supporting our players and not scapegoating them and I know many regular readers and contributors to Arsenal Arsenal feel the same.
In fact, on sober reflection (and some not so sober reflection later in the evening), I realised that where we are now with Jack Wilshere is more or less exactly where we were with Aaron Ramsey this time last year.
The frustration with Ramsey last Autumn began as murmurs of discontent, then grew into howls of outrage and disappointment every time he misplaced a ball before mutating like a cancerous cell into vile abuse and hatred towards the young Welshman on Twitter and the internet.
Thank Dennis that Aaron was strong enough as a person to weather that storm. I am convinced it was only a minority who got on his back, even at the ground (and only an infinitesimal and infantile minority who sent the abuse) but I hope all who doubted him are enjoying their humble pie now.
Jack’s case is similar. He has clearly not got back to his best form since returning from his long injury absences. Like Aaron last year he has been played in different positions and, similarly, has been struggling at times
In Ramsey’s case his true supporters kept trying to remind the doubters of the remarkable promise he had shown before being utterly Shawcrossed.
And now I’m here to do the same for Jack.
If you ever doubt for a second that Wilshere will not turn out to be an Arsenal great, have a look at this YouTube clip “Jack Wilshere v Barcelona.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP_pCG9Cmio It contains all his moments from the game in February 2011 when we played Barca at the Emirates and beat them 2-1.
Jack was just 19 and this was a time when Barcelona were not just the best team in Europe but – according to many commentators – the best football team of all time.
At the heart of their midfield were the peerless Xavi and Iniesta and in that game Jack rose to the level of his esteemed opponents and even outdid them. All of us who watched that game knew we had an exceptional young player on our hands.
We still do. He’s going through a difficult time and is yet to find his true place in this new look, top-of-the-table Arsenal team. But, like Aaron Ramsey, he will come through it. He has shown enough good moments even in this disjointed season to remind us all of the quality that we still have to look forward to.
Arsene Wenger got Aaron Ramsey to achieve his best by sticking with him, playing him through the tough times and (at first) urging him to simplify his game.
Whether or not that approach will work for Jack I don’t know – Arsene gets paid a small fortune to figure that one out himself, and I’m sure he will.
I’m also sure that part of the process of putting Wilshere back at the heart of what’s good about Arsenal will involve a few well-chosen words in his ear about his behavior on the pitch – including his body language.
I would be happy to bet that by May we will be talking about Jack Wilshere as a £50 million player.