Monday, April 22, 2024


So it’s open season on Jack Wilshere.

The ridiculous reaction to his comments about English players playing for England could only have happened during an Interlull. There’s just nothing else going on and now you have cricketers and all sorts getting involved, adding fuel to an unnecessary fire.

The worst thing this isn’t just in the domain of the Daily Mail and TalkSport, where you’d expect this kind of shite to dwell. It’s tabloid and broadsheet and, frankly, it’s beyond ludicrous. The failings of the English football team are highlighted and analysed time and time again, but shouldn’t the press and the media take a look at themselves for what appears to be a hatchet job on of the team’s brightest young talents?

If Wilshere fails to perform to their standards in England’s two games, will there be anything other than knives out for him with absolutely no regard paid to their role in the whole thing? He didn’t just get out his soapbox, drape himself in the flag of St George and set out his nationalistic manifesto. He was asked a question, he answered it, and here we are.

The soap opera crap we’re enduring now is pathetic. Summed up best by Iain Macintosh here:

The other thing, of course, is that we live in a world in which people love to be offended. They actively seek out things on which they can pontificate and take the so-called higher ground. I know many people before me have touched on this particular issue, but it’s rampant now.

Wilshere’s comments, for me at least, were vague and liable to be picked apart simply because it is such a complicated issue, but there’s nothing hugely offensive about an Englishman wanting Englishmen to play for England. Whether it’s something you share or not, and I confess I don’t, people do have pride in their country and representing it.

If he didn’t express himself as well as he could have, it’s because he’s a young guy and the issue is more complex than a couple of lines in answer to a leading question at a press conference about a football game. And if you look at what else he said, the worst thing you can accuse him of is simply saying what he thought people wanted to hear. His comments on the way England play, for example:

We have to remember what we are. We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat. We have great characters. You think of Spain and you think technical but you think of England and you think they are brave and they tackle hard. We have to remember that.

What is that other than some ingrained way of thinking about the English national team? Sleeves up, Bulldog spirit, Terry Butcher’s blood and all that. Remember, Wilshere has been brought up at Arsenal, under Arsene Wenger, in possibly the most forward thinking football club in England.

It’s all about the ball, passing, technical ability. He’s grown up watching Bergkamp, Pires and Henry. Even those with physicality, like Vieira, could play to the same level. So what he said about what defines an English team is little more than parroting the kind of headlines that appear every time England lose a game. There’s never any focus on the team’s technical failings, or how the players consistently fall short at international level. Instead the lack of ‘English spirit’ is bemoaned – especially when a foreign coach is the helm.

Forget about how successful that coach might have been at every level of the game until he took the England job. The problem wasn’t the players, it never is, it’s the man in charge. If anything, Jack’s comments about how England play should be the ones grabbing more headlines because for a player to come to his national team and look to do things so differently from the way he plays at club level are far more worthy of analysis than anything else.

Sure, you want players to be committed and to work hard, but that’s hardly enough, is it? There’s got to be more to a football team than that. But that’s what seems to be the most important thing about the England team and as long as it goes unchallenged and the focus is placed on unimportant nonsense then it’s never going to change. And the cycle of knives out, people sacked and under-performing will continue.

Not much else happening, as you’d have gathered by now, but if you fancy winning a Mesut Ozil print from Dan Leydon, simply check out the competition here.

Till tomorrow. And considering how little there is going on, it will be an Arsecast free Friday, I’m afraid. Sorry about that, but blame FIFA and UEFA. And Sepp Blatter.

And Phil Collins for good measure.

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