Yeah, I know, Stevie G is a right old pain; excellent quarter-back when playing against us, has-been no-mark when playing for England. But fair play to him, in the aftermath of “Group D-Gate”, he made a really excellent observation in an interview with the Beeb. He said that the number of young players with the hunger and desire to play for England is diminishing because of the money in the game. When asked if teenage footballers were becoming millionaires too quickly, he replied that “It has an impact on certain individuals. For those who want money, fame and everything that comes with football, of course it will have an effect.”
In a World Cup where the national teams of the three richest leagues in the world (England, Spain and Italy) have failed to get through the group stages, it is certainly worth asking ourselves what is wrong. There are of course plenty of reasons for the failure of our team, and in a sense none – there will always be random, unpredictable factors at play. But to my mind, Gerrard has a very good point, there is a real problem of desire and hunger in our younger players, something that has been building all through the cash-rich Premier League era.
One player that seems to show precisely that desire, that hunger, is Jack Wilshere. He takes a kicking every time he plays, his game of close control and dribbles opens up defences and draws plenty of fouls, some of which are even spotted by the referees. And Jack doesn’t go around biting opponents, he just gets up and starts again. When he gets injured (ie, very often), he does his rehab and comes back again. And he talks a great game – he is clearly desperate to win, in both his Arsenal and his England shirts. There is a very strong argument, that the future of the England team is Jack Wilshere.
But is Arsenal the right place for him to push on? He loves the club, that’s clear. He’s been with us since he was even smaller than he is now. And he hails from the club’s home counties hinterland – he can probably see his parents’ house from London Colney. I’d love Wilshere to succeed with us, if only so I don’t have to concede anything to LB. But if I’m honest, I don’t see it happening, not so much on account of his talents, more because we aren’t going to offer him the right opportunity. I’ve said before that I think he’s better suited to a four-man midfield, which I assume we’re not about to adopt. In the current formation, his natural position (even without much by way of a shot) is in the middle of the attacking-midfield three. And with Ozil, that means Wilshere is effectively an understudy.
Wilshere is reaching a critical stage in his career. He needs to be somewhere where the team is built around him, where he’s the metronome, measuring and setting the rhythm of the team. He’d probably be suited to being at one of the big Dutch clubs, or teams like Valencia, Real Sociedad, Marseille, Southampton or Everton. He’d never do it of course, but Spurs would actually suit him pretty well.
I hope I’m wrong, but I’d say Jack’s time with us is going to end sooner rather than later. And that would be good for him and good for English football.
Written by 26may89