Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, Just The Return Of The Jack


England face Brazil tonight. For some such as Steven Gerrard, it will probably be the last time they do so. I am not sure he will be around in 2014 for the next potential match between the two nations. Ashley Cole might be in the same boat and as much as we may despise the way he left the club as well as playing for Chelsea, it is churlish not to acknowledge that his elevation to one of country’s best ever left backs. Tonight he reaches his 100th cap and congratulations are due to him on that feat.

The longer the national team goes without success, the more expectation is placed on young players. That England do not possess enough natural talent is a lamented but fundamental flaw in the quest to reach the elevated heights of World Cup semi-finals and beyond. Each generation finds its own heroes or more often than not, the singular. Some are self-proclaimed, Sven Goran Eriksson’s charges at the turn of this century held the belief that they were the country’s Golden Generation. That belief proved to be founded on Fool’s Gold. Since then, toil has replaced skill; graft is never an attribute to underestimate but it can only get you so far in tournament football. You need luck or a good fixer to take you through to the final stages.

England don’t want to follow Tina Turner’s advice, we do want another hero. To the rest of the world, it is easy to point to Wayne Rooney; 27 years old, 78 caps and 32 goals. It would be a surprise to if he ended his international career shy of the records of Peter Shilton and Sir Bobby Charlton, the nation’s leading cap and goalscorers. To some of us though he will never be a hero, his reputation tarnished by events off the pitch and suspect camera work. Another will step into that role and then another if the next choice fails.

At Arsenal there are three potentials for that role, the most likely of which makes his return to the starting line-up for his country tonight. Jack Wilshere will face Brazil on the pitch; the weight of expectation has transferred to the Arsenal midfielder and still leaves Rooney with an incredible bulk.

Steven Gerrard tried to put some perspective on Wilshere’s situation,

I think it’s vital we don’t all put too much pressure on him [Wilshere], and there’s not too much expectation. One man can’t carry a nation on his own. He needs other players to help. I can only tell him to try and keep his feet on the ground and try and enjoy it. His career will be full of ups and downs, and I think he has the mentality to handle it.

These players, these young players with huge potential, they have to go out and prove it in big games in the Premier League, Champions League and international level, that they’re good enough to compete against other world-class players. Maybe, if they do, the tag world-class can be given out. But I don’t like it being given out to young players.

It is a fair point to make, young players are rarely world-class but it is at once, an objective and subjective term. The cynical amongst us point out that the paucity of talent around the globe means that there is a need for such declarations but the problem is not necessarily that the term is used too freely but like everything else in this world, it is used cheaply, without longevity attached to it. World-Class is also a reflection of the state of the game; when the shining lights are dimmed by the constant glare, the exceptional standout.

Wilshere is an exceptional player in the Premier League, Liam Brady observed,

We were all a bit nervous – it was 18 months (out injured) – but he has improved with every game and his performance against Liverpool was outstanding…I think he is leading the (Arsenal) team now, his pace is deceptive. He has a funny running style but he drifts past players, and he’s only 22 (sic), he’s only going to get better.

He has proven he can stand toe-to-toe with the best that European club football has to offer and be unbowed. Now, he has international football as the last hurdle to jump and I am certain he will. There is no doubt he is a driving force in the Arsenal midfield, he has areas he can work on but there seems to be no willingness on his part to settle for what he has; that’s a positive sign, one that the manager and coaching staff will appreciate. More importantly, having emerged through the youth ranks, he is as close to one of us as the Premier League can offer. No more walking from the North Bank to the pitch will there be but a product of the club and its academy is something which we can all relate to.

Gerrard refers to the ups and downs; Wilshere has already been there. Wembley cup final despair, losing more than a season to injury? That covers it off in one so young. His return to the Arsenal fray has shown him strong enough mentally to handle the setbacks, understanding the recovery process is not just kicking the ball for the first time in anger and when young footballers are often castigated for stupidity, there has been a maturity in his progress.

Brady put Wilshere into a historical context for English football,

I think he will be up there with the very, very skilful creative English players. In my time it was Glenn Hoddle, (Paul) Gascoigne came after that and then (Wayne) Rooney and I think Wilshere will be in that mix.

Yes Neymar, England are a one-man team but it isn’t Wayne Rooney.

’til Tomorrow.


168 thoughts on “Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, Just The Return Of The Jack

  1. Evening, PB.

    How’s tricks?

    Actually, these days you only post about once a month so i’ll have to wait for an answer, I suppose!

  2. @ponyboy

    Please dont forget Paulinho who is a brilliant midfielder, some in Brazil think he is better than Oscar. Along with Luis Fabiano who, though has lost some pace is still a more clinical finisher/poacher than anybody England could muster. Will be really interesting to watch Neymar, Ronaldinho, Fabiano, Oscar and Paulinho shred the England defense.

    Will Ca$hley be able to attack or will he be pinned back by Daño Alves who makes a habit of dominating his flank for both club and country.

  3. “My pals”? Henristic?

    Are you referring to the infamous splinter group? I don’t think anyone there gives a flying one who I agree with. And nor should they. I feel comfortable flitting between here and there to be honest. There’s people I respect in both “camps” (who are you calling camp?)

    No fixed abode me. Lone ranger and all that.


  4. Jack is dictacting everything England.

    Fellani can’t get a start for Belgium who is playing with 4 recognized strikers.

    Sczny didn’t start and is on the bench.

    Rosicky has played 74 mins.

    Santi played 71 and Nacho didn’t play at all.

  5. Danny Welbeck is again showing why soooooo many people doubt him and don’t understand why he starts for country but sees limited time for club.

  6. Right that’s us installed as favourites for the World Cup

    Fooootbaaaaaaalllllllscccccaaaarrrmimghaaaaaaaaaame !

  7. Harry,
    Splinter group? No, I was referring to your non critical friends or whatever. Sorry don’t mean anything with the word pal or camp, my vocabulary fails me, but I think you know what I mean.

    Lone ranger eh? I kinda think that way about myself too.

  8. refreshing half..
    looked good..

    jacks awesome, feeoo causing problem testing the keeper..

    liking roys tictacs as well..

    4123 with the ball and 442 without… welbeck helping cole and cleverly helping johnson..

    keeping jack feeoo and rooney free for counter attack..

  9. Evening CBob – all well thanks. This game is good fun and it’s a pleasure to watch players like Jack and Theo without that constant frisson of anxiety which has attended most of our games this season.

  10. the 66 strip is my favorite strip i like us in red and white

    the italia 90 team was my favorite england team

  11. @anicoll

    I dony like it being a Brasil fan. Its actually quite surprising given how he has been absolutely brilliant for Bayern Munich this year basically stopping everything in its tracks.

  12. it will be interesting to see the shape of the team now lampard and gerrard are on together..

    never used to work before

  13. As long as the shirts and socks are different colours.

    Some smart boy has us looking like Leeds now. Next it’ll be all red and we’ll look like scousers.

  14. Dante has been awesome C this season for Bayern – looked ashy tonight against head on pace

    And lo and behold old Frank steps in

  15. @JJ

    Sorry mate still at work just checking on the match on commentary as muchas I can. Honestly I wish my boss would leave me the help alone so I can just follow the match but o well.


    Yea he is struggling against pace which works out well when we play them in the CL because Boateng has ALWAYS struggled with pace just this term he has had Dante to help cover for him.

  16. No worries Henristic!

    I know you didn’t mean anything. I wasn’t being entirely serious 😉

  17. i kinda wish he took off wilshere too tbh. put in some donkey instead. save wilshere for saturday 🙂

  18. Atleast Walcott is off. Jack is the great England savior unfortunately and I doubt he comes off until the dying embers of the match.

  19. Thankfully Theo is off. Hope that niggle won’t reappear post match. Also fittingly that they bring on Lemon. He is like a cheap Theo knock-off from our dodgy neighbours.

  20. Henristic

    Nearly, it’s been relatively peaceful here these days. Somewhere I don’t mind coming of an evening, not a place where bickering prevails.

    If you were joking & Harry knows it, ignore me 😉

    Everybody else does.

  21. Well well – have we got a team and a manager who could possibly win something? Encouraging stuff, and injury (tho’ not tiredness) free. Well done Jack, for MOTM too.

  22. @Henristic
    I think (and honestly, almost everyone thinks that when it comes to their own posts!) that most of my postings have a rational core somewhere, but I like to bury it in lots of polemics. Now that certain posters are gone, I don’t feel the need to use them as much.

    And it’s nice that you still remember those postings from all the way back in ..well … 6 months ago. It was funny to be in the minority for once, because I remember being castigated by people who’d usually be on “my side” for that, in addition to the people I am forever in argument with.

  23. Yogi, do they really?

    Reporter: “Yogi, have you made your mind up, yet?”

    A certain other Yogi: “No. Not that I know of”.

  24. Great showing by our guys
    In France vs Allan
    Even OG had a good few touchs in his ten min. Cameo.well done to the ENGLISH shutting naymars trap ,
    Good show and goodentache.
    Best of all NO. INJURED GUNNERS…..

  25. Goonerkam – Think Koscielny and Walcott might both be injured. At least it was worth it, these international friendlies are the height of the game.

  26. Alright then, Yogi.

    You’re right, it helps that there is so much less bickering around this days. My posts were in jest, although, as if often the case with these things, there is some underlying true feelings in them somewhere.

    Still, I have a lot of respect for Harry (and his lame humour :)), and even if I’m loath to admit it, I’m beginning to not mind Evil very much.

    By the way well done to England. I was mainly watching the Ghana-Burkina Faso AFCON semis, but flicked between channels a bit, enough so see Wilshere dominating the midfield like some don in his prime. It’s almost scary to think how good that boy will be get when he’s 25.

  27. I would say that bicker-free atmosphere is what we pretty much had for the past several years (with occasional appearances by the likes of Suga to ensure that this blog doesn’t become all lovey-dovey) and it only changed this summer to the worse, with the return of a certain poster mindful of getting the worst out of everyone who wasn’t agreeing with him and his agenda.

  28. I just think that saying that “now” the blog is a nice place makes me wonder why some of the posters that are still left have stuck around for several years, some probably 5 and more. Unless, of course, the blog was a nice place before, too, and it’s maybe just a couple of very bad months in recent times that have left a sour taste. And probably clouded some memories, making it seem like it has been years of suffering up to this point.

  29. ZINC
    too bad regarding THEO & KOSHER. Missed it. Hopefully not too serious and not long term. WILSHIRE was super Impressive. These international games where anything but boring.
    Has WOJO lost his first place with the polish national team??
    AW is gonna have a few very tired players on his hand for this weekend.

  30. Yogi what time Is your new post.?

    Yogi : ” I don’t know about 10″

    The other yogi ” if I can be arsed.”

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