We do not think much about the travails of the modern PL footballer, we assume that the fame, bright lights, supercars, surgically augmented girlfriends and vast wealth must make for a wonderful life, and in most cases it seems to – but as with most things this is not the whole truth. Let us look at one of our own, Mr Carl Jenkinson.
A gooner all his life with a dream to play for his club, something all of us have dreamt of but in Carl’s case it became a realty, sadly, not bringing the joy he must have assumed would come from his achievement.
The Birmingham Mail are reporting that Carl is about to be loaned to Aston Villa in January. Does this herald the end of his Arsenal career? Were a couple of quite frankly piss-poor performances enough to convince Mr Wenger that Carl cannot cut it at Arsenal? Perhaps.
West Ham Bob assures me that Carl did well in his first few games at WHU but towards the end they were delighted that he got injured, such was the negativity surrounding his play. Carl returned and got fit, Boosh was injured, Hector got injured, Carl got his chance, failed, Boosh got 20 minutes and Gabriel was brought in at RB. How will that affect the confidence of a man already questioning his abilities? Not well, one would imagine.
Arsenal are known to have a team of top psychiatrist and motivators, they realise how much stress is placed on young men with no life experience other than being lauded for being excellent at football. Just the fact that 80+% of footballers go bankrupt within 5 years of retirement highlights this naivety. Goodness knows how many succumb to addictions in a futile attempt to fill the gap of the dressing room.
Mental fragility is never discussed about top sportsmen but skill is not enough. In golf, there is something called the “yips”, when a player who has previously been able to putt with astonishing accuracy suddenly cannot. It is a nervous complaint and very, very difficult to remedy; it has cost players their careers. As a team sport footballers have less focus but not much.
Carl’s performance against Southampton when he couldn’t find a pass, completely lost his ability to judge where he should be in relation to the play and continually ran into trouble was reminiscent of the sad day when Eboue ‘s form disappeared. Eboue had the strength of character to resurrect his Arsenal career. Can Jenkinson?
On the AFC website today there is a piece on Jenks coming back from rehab, I could be wrong and Carl may well have a glorious future as Bellerin’s understudy, but I fear for him. Above all I wish him well.