Jack Wilshere is young, English and has an abundance of potential. Since he has returned from injury he has shown why there was such a clamour for the Arsenal playmaker to light up the Premier League when he was absent.
Wilshere was aware when he started playing again a few months ago that he had huge pressure to succeed especially in a Three Lions shirt. The England team were overawed in Euro 2012 in crucial midfield battles, most notably against Italy when Pirlo ran the show leading to Hodgson’s men exiting the tournament.
In a national side you need leaders and players to take the game by the scruff of the neck with matches being far less open. The international game takes on a far slower tempo than the Premier League. It may be a bit of a stretch to make him a saviour for England but the logic is understandable. Can you say the same at Arsenal? I am not so sure.
Have we not been here before? Fabregas was constantly seen as the shining beacon before being wrenched away by Catalan Giants Barcelona. The Spanish international was seen as the heartbeat of the team and the play ran through him and his departure left a gaping hole. Then just last summer Robin Van Persie decided it was time to fill his trophy cabinet, signing for Manchester United. This was after being nearly the sole source of goals for the 2011/12 campaign. In the aftermath Podolski and Giroud have struggled to fill the void between them such was reliance on the talismanic Dutchman.
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Wilshere appears to be the latest star name on which hopes of all those around The Emirates rely upon. Can he handle it? Yes he definitely can but this misses the point. The reason why the Gunners have failed to maintain a title challenge for several campaigns now is having an inept squad. The success Wenger had in his invincibles season was built around having several leaders rather than just one.
It is a dangerous precedent that the Gunners should be careful in continuing. He may be passionate to play for Arsenal and have a great rapport with the supporters but this means something else too. He has sell on value. Whether they like it or not in North London Arsenal is run as a business before anything else. If Wilshere is to be left the task of carrying the team surely he will become disillusioned if trophies do not follow? Even if the answer to that is no you suspect if a big money bid came in the board would be incapable of saying no to it, and deal with the consequences later yet again.
The most recent half year financial figures revealed a profit of £17.8 million and whilst this is impressive in times of recession, surely this is proof that the board is simply not doing enough in terms of playing staff. Wenger has had his fair share of transfer mishaps but you suspect if he spent say £17 million of that on another leader to carry the workload at The Emirates that his side would be in far greater shape now. In spite of this similar patterns seem to be emerging as Wilshere looks as if he’s been left with the unenviable task of carrying the hopes and dreams of an expectant crowd at the Emirates.
The contract renewal of Theo Walcott was celebrated as being a huge success and like a player signing within itself. This though was a smokescreen though for the frailties in the side. Whilst the development of the former Southampton prodigy has been impressive, it is Jack Wilshere who is being seen as the fulcrum of the side for years to come. His performances have been consistent whereas Walcott despite vast improvement can still blow hot and cold.
It is not the fans fault either that Wilshere is being built up as a saviour, because they need to cling onto something. After all some unfortunate supporters have to pay £94 to watch their side play at the Emirates these days. Expensive is not a word which should be synonymous with football but it is in North London these days. The fact that their last 16 opponents Bayern Munich charge £96 for a season ticket yet were the team to deliver the goods in the first leg made a mockery of the financial prudence of the Arsenal board.
It is clear that Wilshere is ready to take his place to be one of the leaders of the Arsenal side. The point though remains that if Kroenke and co don’t want to risk alienating the fans for good they may to consider investing the £17.8 million this summer to avoid the vicious cycle of scrapping just to reach the top four. They need more leaders to share the workload this summer.
They need to have a net spend of their half yearly profits to at least to be challenging in the 2013/14 campaign. There will be some who say that it would be petulant to suddenly abandon the model and start spending. If this arguments holds then it is also petulant that Arsene Wenger is paid £7.5 million a year to lead a side that is failing to achieve trophies and what any reasonable fan would deem success.