So the World Cup ends in ignominious failure and everyone from The Sun – with it’s relentlessly stupid, and ridiculous ill-judged “Maybe, Just Maybe” ad campaign, to the bloke who sells knock-off England kits down the market have opined and whined about the state of the English game and the betrayal and subsequent demise of the golden generation.
As good as we all like to think we are at fantasy football, as great as we see ourselves on football management games, once the media types working at the red tops get their claws into someone and elevate them to the spot of “the new [insert previous legendary footballer here]” we all bite and take it upon ourselves to wail and shrew about how we always said the boy had it in him, always knew he’d make the grade, didn’t I tell you blah blah blah…
And already, just a game into the season, the new target is already fully formed and ready to take the place once loftily held by names as significant as Rooney, Owen, Giggs and… erm, Leighton Baines.
Jack Wilshere, ladies and gentlemen, is the new [insert previously legendary footballer whose size 10s he’ll be stepping into, or shadow he’ll be drowning in].
An 18-year-old who until Sunday had played bugger all first team football for his mother club, and a dozen or so games for a team struggling to maintain their Premier League status – and in whose ranks my nan would look like a superstar.
I don’t for a second want anyone thinking I don’t go along with the hype myself. I think the boy Wilshere has it in him to dazzle and confound and prove everyone wrong, or right – depending on their stance. I just hope this terrible curse we place upon our young players of the new starts disappearing like English club owners.
How long before the comparisons with Scholes (as was made during the pre-season Emirates Cup games), Giggs (by Owen Coyle), David Dunn (Stuart Pearce) and Beckham (Wenger, though at least he sees the boy do wonders day in, day out at training) start subsiding and the final nail in any young footballers comparison coffin is made – when he is eventually compared to… dare I say it… Gascoigne.
All I am trying to say is this: it’s great we have some fresh, trailblazing, genuine talent in this country – that, according to the powers that be, is drowning in a sea of foreign flash-in-the-pans – but we need to allow this talent to take form and shape with their own skill and own personalities…
We can no longer afford as football fans to keep stamping young talent as the new anything, or we will suffer the same embarrassing slap in the face as we did when our Golden Generation turned into a bunch of middle-aged Armani wearing, perma-tanned, cash counting celebrities, rather than the grass roots, wingers, defenders and strikers they were meant to be.
Jack Wilshere has my vote and my confidence, but if he’s anything, lets let him be the new Jack Wilshere.
Nothing more, nothing less.