The curse of the new Jack Wilshere

Posted by - August 17, 2010 - Arsenal, England

When expectation becomes ridicule
Jack Wilshere

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.

  • shedzy

    the new David Dunn??

    I’m not entirely convinced that this is such a good thing!

  • Neil

    497 words packed into the first 9 sentences.

    Did a teacher ever tell you about “clear and concise” Englisg being just as good as waffle?

  • Jimbo

    Oh come on! Are you really trying to imply that this is an English only phenomenon? Young players from every footballing country are billed as “the new [insert previously legendary footballer whose size 10s he’ll be stepping into, or shadow he’ll be drowning in]”. Excuses, excuses and more excuses. Typical English attitude. Just accept the fact English footballers never have been and never will be as good as you consider yourselves to be.

  • Neil

    It happens in France a lot more than it does in England

    How many young Frenchies have you hears being called the new Zidane? Simply because they are sometimes of north African descent and decent at football! Benzema, Ben Arfa, Cheyrou, Le Tallec, Gourcuff… the list goes on and on…

    I think it happens in every country though. I’m Irish and Liam Miller was being called the new Keane, Gibson gets linked with Chippy Brady sometimes. Still waiting for the new Paul McGrath though!

    I think Jimbo is being a little harsh on England though. They have got excellent players and although I threw in a dig earlier about the strucyure of this article, the last two lines make perfect sense. Players these days are being likened to former greats too often and are not being left to develop into their own type of player. Let young players create their own legend, rather than following someone else’s path.

  • Jimbo

    Ok, I was possibly being a little harsh. But I’ll just sum it up with this.

    There was lots of talk in the media about the transfer of two high profile midfielders who are roughly the same age this summer, one Spanish the other English. The transfer fees that were being mentioned for both players were around £30m. These players are Fabregas and Milner. To even consider Milner and Fabregas in the same bracket ability wise is laughable, but that’s what we get from the English media – English players being massively over hyped.

    However this is not to say that England hasn’t produced some outstanding players in the past – Shearer, Gascoine, Shilton, Charlton and Keegan to name just a few.

  • Neil

    Yes, having an English birth cert automatically adds £10million onto a player’s price tag. When a team knows that Man City are intereste in their players, they can ask for what they want because they know they will get it. I don’t think many Villa fans would agree that Milner is a £30m player.

  • jock practice

    I like this guy’s writing, he has made me smile on a very shit day!

  • Sarianlives

    I like flouncy and allusive language!
    OK… getting to the point is all well and good, but opinion is everything in this game…
    But i digress…

    As i see it, we are now 1 game down in the Premiership, and already Wilshere has a yellow card, and a pretty comprehensive 5 star review from most of the papers – who, after just last week raising the lad onto a pedastal, are now suddenly stating – “Maybe he isn’t ready, maybe the hype was wrong…”

    Its typical.. Like Neil Says, it happens year in year out, Last year we had Owen Coyle saying he was a consummate pro, and i was really happy that the assessment was he could be a workhorse player, but two good games in pre-season and Arsenal suddenly have the new Bloody Pele!

    Its going to be, if nothing else, a very interesting season…
    I’m loving it…

  • Tom

    Obviously its not just an english phenomenon, it is a worldwide footballing issue, no player can be ‘promising’…. anyone under 20 who can show something a bit different will be labelled…. be it the future Pele, Becks, whatever. The problem is, its not ok for an english player to be ‘good’ they have to be outstanding, clubs would rather sign a average foreigner than play and average youth team member.

  • gaz

    as an arsenal fan, all the hype about this kid is quite annoying. yes he is good, yes he has abundance of talent. but….like you have pointed out….just cause some managers, pundits fans and players have said hes the next big thing, doesnt make him the next big thing NOW. he has many years ahead of him. still lots to learn.

    maybe he turns out to be the next jamie redknapp. full bucket load of potential devastated by injuries. who knows…..

  • Sarianlives

    or worse… Darren Anderton…
    I remember when Darren ANderton exploded on the scene, jug ears, crooked smile, bowl hair cut, Spurs were amazing with him and Klinnsmann in the team together… then a string of injuries basically makes him a three legged racehorse… and the nickname Sicknote comes about…

    Anyway, with Cashley playing silly bastards with his career and personal life, expect Kieron Gibbs to be the next big thing… Honest Injun.

  • Sticky Maple Beaver

    Here here! – well said!