Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Jack Wilshere, Jack Wilshere, Jack Wilshere

Morning all,

they’re still talking about diving, I’m still not caring. As I’ve said before, it’s one of the most curious issues in football. Everyone trips over themselves to condemn a guy who is light on his feet, calling for retrospective punishment, be-headings, forced labour, Chinese water torture and exposure to the music of Phil Collins as played by Phil Collins on his own rusty trumpet, yet so many of these moral guardians condone much bigger problems in the game.

Look at the ones who defend those guilty of dangerous, violent play. Those who have previous are excused, it’s all part of the game, getting stuck in and all that. Clearly he’s not that kind of player. And while I have about as much time for Joey Barton as I do sawing off bits of my own body, a recent article urging him to come out of the closet shows exactly why any gay footballer is going to stay in there.

“A dive? Quick, to our high horses! It’s great up here.”

When you have Graham Poll, of all people, being trotted out to wax lyrical then you know it’s something you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about. Until some bright spark – probably the same eejit who thinks people are interested in what Robbie Savage has to say – decides to put Poll and Jeff Winter together, like a footballing Statler and Waldorf, to spout about contentious, vaguely controversial decisions. Until they explode in a furious ego-off, of course.

There are ways and means of dealing with diving, video evidence could be used in-game or retrospectively, but until the authorities actually do something about it, it’s going to be part of the game. Sometimes the ref will spot them, sometimes he won’t. And the bottom line is this: Gareth Bale has been booked more times for diving than anyone else. In history. Ever. And he looks like a friend of Tarzan. Case closed.

Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere has been talking about his form and fitness since his return from injury:

When I get up to 100 per cent fitness, I can really show what I can do. Basically, it’s a totally new team from when I played before. It was always going to take some time, and it will still take some time. The more games that go past, the better I think we’ll get.

There were some encouraging signs on Saturday that he’s beginning to forge a real understanding with Cazorla and Arteta, the GIF of them flicking the ball through midfield was wonderful, and as much as I love what he brings to the team as a footballer, I double-love what he brings in terms of character. This picture, showing his squaring up to Jonas Olsson, sums it up perfectly. If you’ll excuse me for Tolkein a liberty, it’s like a hobbit having a go at an ent, but that’s Jack Wilshere for you.

When Adebayor was sent off the other week and there was some argy-bargy involving Gareth Bale (who, in case you didn’t know, has been booked more times for diving than anyone else. In history. Ever. And he looks like a friend of Tarzan), who was in the middle of it? Jack Wilshere. It might get him in trouble at some point but you need guys like him in your team, guys who have a bit of bite to them, and when you combine it with what he can do with the ball then it’s almost a complete package.

It’s also interesting to hear him talk about the physical aspects of his comeback:

I think [in] the first few games, my adrenaline got me through and I was so up for it. Then you start to realise it’s not as simple as that, and things start catching up on you.

Which is why the manager has got to be a bit cautious still and why Jack has to channel the enthusiasm he has for the game properly. He wants to play in every game and by his own admission has done so when perhaps he ought to have sat out and let a niggle recover properly, but you have to think after so long out of the game that’s a lesson he’s had to learn in a very harsh fashion. The doctors and physios can do as much as they can do but the person who knows best is Jack himself, so he’s got to be completely open about any problems he has.

Arsene Wenger says we’ve got the old Jack back, but we have to remember that the old Jack was a very new Jack. He only had one season of first team football, so he’s still got plenty of room for development and improvement. And given the way he’s performed thus far, that’s a rather exciting prospect indeed.

In other news the talk of who and how and when in terms of January is ramping up as we get closer to the opening of the transfer window, and it seems that Thierry Henry is set for another loan period, perhaps until the end of the season. While I have reservations about this (I’m not alone and I’d urge you to read the fine Q&A with Philippe Auclair on Gunnerblog), I do wonder if this is about more than what he might bring on the pitch.

He’s in good shape but he’s heading towards 36 now and the Premier League is a faster, less forgiving animal than it was. I have no doubt he can contribute something, and as I’ve said before if he does come it ought to be along with another more permanent addition to our attacking line-up, but maybe Wenger wants another lieutenant in the dressing room. Somebody with charisma and experience, who’s been there and done that, and maybe that’s a big part of this.

Anyway, we’ll have plenty of time to discuss all those things closer to the time when they actually happen. I’ll leave it there for now, we’ll have a good a look ahead to the COC tomorrow.

Until then.

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