An alien in the England team

by admin

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

It is very difficult, as an Englishman, not to get carried away when assessing Jack Wilshere’s performance in Arsenal’s first leg victory over Barcelona. The 19 year-old showed composure, skill, tenacity, technical brilliance and did I mention composure to rival that of the man he was playing opposite, Xavi Hernandez.

If ever there was a blueprint for a young English footballer in terms of ability then Wilshere is it. He passed with control and awareness, moved gracefully with guile when not possession into space looking for the ball and was tenacious on the toes of the opposing players.

The moment that had me gushing was in the build up to Arshavin’s winning goal when he won the ball and in one fluid movement pirouetted and passed with the outside of his right foot a short ball to Fabregas in space waiting to break for the smash and grab. A simple skill but class none the less. And he is English!

Over the past 10 years or so midfield has apparently been our strongest department with the great Lampard or Gerard conundrum baffling the likes of Capello and, er McClaren. So why all the ho-ha over young Wilshere? Well it is very simple really, because he plays with a simplicity used so intelligently that he could be mistaken for being anything but English.

Don’t get me wrong, Gerard is a player of undoubted quality but, as is typical in this country, we mistake his impact on Premier League games, as world-class ability. He is an impact player, he will grab you a last gasp 30-yarder, he will burst into the box instinctively and drag his team bag into a game but he will not sit majestically in midfield prodding little five to 10 yard passes with his team-mates. He hasn’t the patience.

Lampard on the other hand is quite capable and has that natural technical ability, or touch, that would allow him mix it on the continent. It is a shame that there has not been an opportunity to fulfill that skill on an international level. Rather as per most England games, he and others are prone to the Hollywood Ball, a pass so corrosive that it isolates the recipient from most of your teammates. Thank you David Beckham!

So what of Wilshere? His emergence is credit to Arsene Wenger and his organic philosophy on youth. Will Wilshere be forced into Hollywood mode? Not as long as he plays in that Arsenal side built on pure footballing principles. If anything last night’s game and teams prove that this is the right philosophy. Money will only get you so far as Chelsea are discovering.

There will be added pressure on Wilshere for the remainder of the season, not least from us media types who will no doubt examine every aspect of his life. Let us hope Wenger protects him the same way Ryan Giggs was when he burst onto the scene.

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  • mat

    wilshere not wilshire

  • jo

    spell wilshere correctly pls

  • Chris

    Being pedantic (sorry) because Jack didn’t win the ball – Koscielny won the ball, passed to Bendtner, who passed (just!) to Jack, and on from there. But I agree with everything you’ve said.

  • dan

    very funny lol.
    u blame beckam for making fat boy lamps so crap. lampard and gerrard are very similar. they are strikers with no pace, like gudonson or nolan. they were in the england team because they score lots of goals by shooting out side the box or 5 yard shots penalties etc or hitting long balls to drogba/crouch. i think gerrard is the most technical out of those 4. you are right they lack patience and this is what is wrong with english football from grass roots level. wengar has raised wilshere the arsenal way.
    i still to this day think that is was a discrace to take heskey and crouch to the world cup and leave bent. capello does not have a clue. just take a look at italian football. i have no faith.
    wilshere makele in the same sentence. wow

  • Mystical Mike

    Excellent blog, you points are so valid. Wilshere keeps it simple, just like Xavi and Iniesta, that’s the difference between Spains midfield and Englands, Gerrard, and I’ve said this 100 times tries to win the game by playing 50 yard balls, which 1 from 3 will find their target.

    Let’s hope for the sake of English football, we build a team around young Jack and dare I say an out of form Rooney. They are future, lamparx and Gerrard are not

  • Matt Quinn

    I like the sentence….

    “Rather as per most England games, he and others are prone to the Hollywood Ball, a pass so corrosive that it isolates the recipient from most of your teammates. Thank you David Beckham!”

    It’s true. I hate the cross field ball. The most useless pass in the game. Commentators seem to love it and think it is the ideal and epitomy of vision and creativity. I think it is anything but. One of 2 things happen with a cross field ball… 1/ The ball flies out of play and the supposed receiving player applauds the passer for the intent. (god knows why?) or 2/ It finds its target, usually forcing the recipient to control it with his head, while being surrounded by 2 defenders and no team-mate in sight. The move breaks down.

  • richard

    Now now, let’s not too carried away with this stuff. Yes he looked, well ‘un-english’ like …..and yes he made a few clever passes BUT let’s stop there…he wasn’t nor is he in Xavia, Iniesta, Pedro et els class…in fact there are a number of other youngrer barca’s that are probably already better than Willshire…the problem with not having many class english mid fielders (save the retried Scjholes) is that you english get a little carried away when you find one with some flair and techniclal abiliy

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