Before the England International against Denmark, Nicklas Bendtner claimed that England risk seeing their best young players burn-out. He said that just like Walcott, who was the victim of being exposed to international football too young, the same could happen with Wilshere and Carroll if they are not treated with ‘kid gloves’.
The young players in England are currently under a lot of pressure to perform. That is because the more senior players have failed. The public are looking to the next generation with hope of someone special. But, are we really putting too much pressure on the likes of Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere?
Theo Walcott was picked for the 2006 World Cup before he had played any premiership football.
It was a gamble as no one knew what to expect from the young striker/ winger. Walcott should not have gone but I don’t think he was mistreated. If he not gone to the 2006 World Cup, or been picked for England at such a young age, I don’t think he would be a better player now. In fact one of his career highlights has been in an England shirt, against Croatia. Walcott was just not good enough at that age, there was no evidence to suggest he was.
The same cannot be said about Carroll or Wilshere. If Wilshere did not prove this with his steady performance against Denmark, he definitely did last week. Against Barcelona Wilshere shone. He was arguably Arsenal’s best player. Wilshere is ready for the main stage and Fabio Capello should not be scared to expose him. Wenger has not held him back, why should Capello?
If you think this is putting too much pressure on him, I would prefer it to ‘protecting’ him. He needs to play every game. I don’t think we are putting too much on him too early.
Look at Gareth Bale. In the first half of last year he was exposed to Premiership football and he performed badly. He wasn’t ready. Did Redknapp really ‘protect’ him, or did he just not pick him because he wasn’t yet good enough?
Once he proved he was good enough, he played. The more he played the better he got, it’s simple. Bale’s career did not suffer as a result of being exposed at a young age. Nor did Wayne Rooney’s and nor will Theo Walcott’s.
Jack Wilshere is yet to show signs of crumbling. He has performed every time he has been expected to. Furthermore Wilshere is a very confident young man. He is not afraid of anyone on the pitch and not afraid to speak his mind. Sure this might get him into trouble in the future, who knows? But it is imperative for young players to have this kind of confidence if they are going to succeed at the highest level. If you don’t back yourself, no one else will.
I am not sending a message to Capello to play all players who have done well for their club and are under 22. What I am saying is that he should not be afraid to play young players and worry about ‘burn-out’.
Chris Smalling will get the opportunity to prove himself this week in the Champions League. He has played really well when called upon this year. If he plays well in Marseille, I am sure his name will be linked to an international call up. I don’t think that is putting too much pressure on him. If he can perform under the pressure of the millions of Man United fans, he has the potential to do so for England.
The best players in the world have always been able to handle the expectation because they have been good enough. Sure if we put pressure on the likes of Wilshere and Carroll then they might lose that fearlessness of youth. That they will have more pressure to perform? But the best players set themselves higher targets than any hopeful fan. The great players reach them.
Just look at Pele, Maradona, Maldini or Ronaldo. They made their international debuts before they were 20. Rather than being negative and seeing the rise of English talent in a negative light, I would rather be positive and say the future of English football looks bright. To say we are putting too much pressure on Wilshere is to under rate him; he is good enough to handle it.
If you too want to see Wilshere playing every game for England you can connect with me at www.twitter.com/joeaustin8