By Patrick Grove
Jack Wilshere. I am about to say some things that I imagine most fans will berate me for so let me start out by being as generous (and honest) as I can be. I love Jack Wilshere as a player and think he holds the potential to be one of Arsenal’s best ever. His first full season was a humungous success and I wish him nothing but the best in his recovery from almost a full out 12 months injured.That being said, I think many fans are being a bit naïve with their expectations of him. From what I have read and seen in multiple articles, blogs, forums, and comments, almost every Arsenal fan seems to think he is going to walk right back into the lineup on his return. In fact, more than that, they see him being our creative savior and pushing us on from the off. I have a very different view and it’s based on experience with another recent Arsenal youngster’s troubles.
In his first few starts for Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey was impressive. He scored some goals, created others, worked his tail off and looked an amazing prospect. Then he took a trip to Stoke City and his career since has been drastically altered from those early days of promise. He was out for almost a full 12 months (sound familiar?) and came back with huge expectations (replacing Cesc, sound more familiar?!?) placed on him. I like Aaron Ramsey a great deal (notice I used present tense not past) and still think he has the potential to be a great player, but based on the sentiments of most fans, I’d say we’re in agreement that he had a rather disappointing season (I have a feeling most people think that assessment is being nice).
And this is my hesitation in the Jack Wilshere situation. I like Jack a great deal. I think he has the potential to be great and overcome these injury issues to be one of the best to play the game for the red half of North London. But history shows us that expectation, and especially high expectation, can hinder a player’s development and even dent his confidence. These two (Ramsey and Wilshere) are still years away from their prime and have so much time to develop. Their managers and we, as fans, need to give them that time and allow them to flourish without burying them in expectation.
Because of this hesitation, I believe we have to do one of two things. Either hold onto RvP and change our system a bit, or bring in a truly game changing attacking midfielder. We have loads of midfielders and we have to shift players in order to bring more in, but if Jack doesn’t return at full strength, we keep the same system, and we don’t make a move for a world class attacking midfielder, I fear we could fall into the same trap as last season. Great possession, clinical finishing, no creativity. It will lead to pushing too many forward, being exposed at the back, and conceding far too many goals…again.
That’s it for this episode. Please feel free to comment and discuss. Hope I didn’t offend too many Wilshere lovers.