Jack Wilshere, without any doubt in my mind, is one of the game’s most intelligent players. Intelligence in this sense is seen when a player is able to choose the best option at every given moment with or without the ball. With the ball, Jack is up there with the incomparable Santi Cazorla as both have the technical skills to match the quickness of their footballing minds. Without the ball, which had been Jack’s weak point, it now appears that all the hard knocks to his career have helped him grow. Against Doncaster Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup, when Mohamed Elneny pushed forward, Wilshere dropped to occupy vulnerable spaces. It’s no more Jack the lad, it’s now Jack the man.
I saw plenty in that match against lowly Doncaster Rovers. Plenty.
Watching him, I saw that he played with a certain detachment. He was in it, yet out of it. That state gave him the unique awareness that belongs only to geniuses like Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez, maestros who seem to see what the fans high up in the stand see: a panoramic view of the game while not missing the details. Jack Wilshere is back, only bigger–though he will need time, support and recognition for it all to become fully forged.
He needs time to build up his fitness and get away from the scares of his injury traumas. He needs everybody’s support in his transition from the impetuous kid who drove headlong at defensive brick walls to the metronome who would orchestrate play. Fully back, he would need his teammates to recognize that he has become the center, the soul of their team. And never again should a cruel injury befall him. That is the prayer that should be on the lips of every lover of football.
Jack, it appears, has been reconstructing his game to diminish his proneness to impact injuries which have all but blighted his footballing career. Arjen Robben did likewise and enjoyed a more injury free tenure. So did Robin Van Persie. Jack is doing the same, and, providentially, it is the reconstruction process that has heightened his awareness that has given maturity to his game. With this quality, a player begins to see himself merely as a cog in the wheel and so becomes more team conscious. All the world greatest players have it.
What should be the best role for Wilshere? Simple answer: any creative midfield role, but the deep lying playmaker role would provide a better insurance against the vicious tackles. He might actually play better further forward but his provocative style invites the harsh tackles. To play him deeper is to help his effort at reconstructing his game. Wilshere has enough genius in him for the team to be built around him. Am I straying into dizzy heights? I would wager on it, that, not long from now, Jack would be taking all of us safely through these same dizzying routes.
Let us indulge a little bit and imagine Ozil, Santi, Jack and Rambo in the mid-areas firing on all cylinders. The feints, the back-heels, the drag-backs, the no-look passes, the one-touch passes, the through-balls… The vision, the swagger… The aforementioned dizzying heights…and the victories.
This is my song to Jack.
by Pony Eye