It looks brighter on the pitch. United’s defeat at home to West Brom will almost condemn them to fourth if Arsenal win at Hull tomorrow. That gap releases some pressure when the two sides meet at Old Trafford in a fortnight unless United fail to capitalise on the Liverpool’s capitulation at Stamford Bridge next weekend. Now, if City can just show the same weakness today…
One player who seems to be occupying minds at the moment is Jack Wilshere. Reports this morning suggest Arsène wants him to go with the England squad to the Under-21s European Championships this summer, which is a complete about-turn from a manager who usually rails against international tournaments interfering with his pre-season training. Compare this to his private seething about Alexis Sanchez’s pre-season being wrecked if Chile reach the final of the Copa America in early July.
Wilshere will, according to Wenger, play again this season but with a full squad to choose from, the manager is going to take the luxury of bringing the player back slowly. Time has afforded him that luxury and he’s not wasting the opportunity.
What people underestimate a little bit is that to get back to be capable to play is one thing. To be back and be capable to be sharp and efficient takes a bit longer.
It’s something of a chicken and egg situation. Match fitness, Wenger’s efficiency, is achieved by playing but the form of the squad is such that those on the bench are not going to get much of a look-in unless things go horribly wrong. Which none of us wants.
Wenger stated that he isn’t thinking about the FA Cup final and all the while second place is up for grabs I’d be surprised if he is. However, having played one game a week for months, the final week sees Arsenal face three games in seven days with Sunderland the obvious contender for rotation. It’s that sort of game, with most likely, the visitors all but relegated. Well, they are all but relegated now and having to visit Arsenal and Chelsea makes them prime candidates for the drop.
Wilshere is something more of a project, Wenger thinks it will take years before we see the very best of the England midfielder,
You live in a job where you need to trust your body. Jack is one of them who plays with freedom as soon as he’s back. So I don’t think on that front it will be a problem. He needs now one or two years without problems to really get the full confidence and belief back and I don’t see why it shouldn’t happen.
Well, aside from the fact that Wilshere plays for a club with an horrendous injury record. Mind you, if Wilshere needs one or two years, what must Abou Diaby be needing? Theo Walcott?
For the player, Wenger freely admits that it is a frustrating time, not just in being unable to play but also contending with not returning as an automatic first team choice. It’s the same for Walcott and underlines the change not just in Arsenal’s fortunes, but their finances as well.
It’s the cost of strengthening the squad, requiring a change in the player’s mentality; stay and fight for your place or take flight for an easier life. It’s this aspect which makes him fodder for the gossip mongers.
Wilshere’s future looks brighter in the long-term. The midfield will become less congested this summer with a number of older players likely to leave but the role Santi Cazorla has fulfilled in the side seems to be perfectly suited to Wilshere’s talents.
No matter what their popularity amongst supporters may be, the lack of sentiment the club is displaying toward supporters is going to be reflected with the playing squad as well; it’s the modern Premier League era mentality. Not just the top flight either.
Events throughout the leagues underline the disenfranchisement supporters feel. Nowhere quite as extreme as Blackpool as yesterday’s pitch invasion underline. The businessmen might be getting wealthier and assuaging their egos but unless they plan a Rollerball style future, the long-term health of the game is not looking as rosey as the finances suggest.
It’s all very well the likes of Scudamore and Dyke promoting the game but unless they address the issues now, it will be a damage limitation exercise in the future. Will football die out? Of course not but the loyalty they take for granted is not so certain in generations to come.