Jack the Lad? He's already a man

Posted by SmartArse

Buried somewhere in what sounds rather like a bad chat up line of a title is a rather serious point. Because while it’s been a tad grouchy around the Emirates of late, one of few things we’ve all been unwaveringly positive about is Jack Wilshere. Jack is, obviously, a magnificent talent; but of all the things that have impressed, it’s been those expected least that have been most outstanding.

Jack has displayed a remarkable maturity this season, beyond not only his years, but more importantly his own reputation. He was supposed to be impetuous, wild, oh-my-god-someone-fetch-this-nutter-a-straight-jacket Jack. Instead he’s largely measured, balanced and grounded.

Take for example, his conduct surrounding the whole ludicrous under 21s debacle. Jack really wanted to play, but when shown (or as is likely, shoved strongly in the direction of) the statistical evidence of his own fatigue he didn’t whine, didn’t throw a strop. Instead he took it all in and explained to Pearce himself than he had to miss out. He shouldered the load as if it were his own choice, when really, he was probably just doing what he was told.

It’s been a transformative year off the pitch almost as much as on. In August he was arrested after a ‘fracas’ (I love that word). Almost a year later, he’s all over the back pages again, but as a statesman, the press pack’s go-to guy. He’s no longer just the darling of the media as !!THE NEXT BIG THING!?!! Journalists love him. He gives a good interview because he’s open and frank. It took Rio Ferdinand a decade to make the jump from idiot to icon, Jack Wilshere just a year. If anything he probably spends too much time apologising on Twitter.

Rio Ferdinand: mature, apparently

Rio Ferdinand: mature, apparently

Not that all work and no play has made Jack a dull boy. Today’s retirement of the similarly brilliant Paul Scholes serves as ample reminder that Jack still has a lot to learn in the tackle and a touch in keeping his cool when frustrated, but at 19 I can live with the odd lapse in self-control.

He’s quoted today as saying Arsenal should surround the ref more, but so what? It’s not some Neanderthal Joey Barton-esque outburst. What he means is that Arsenal need to develop the sort of collective spirit that dragged United to the title. Can you really say he’s wrong? This is exactly the sort of leadership and drive that Arsenal fans have been crying out for since the dawn of time. Or maybe that’s just twitter, I forget.

Of course, we have to be careful. The press (and probably this sycophantic shit you’re reading now) would probably have him captain of En-ger-land and Arsenal quicker than you can say ‘hyperbole’, but he’s already shedding the baggage that threatened to drag him down.

Oh, and apparently he’s not bad at football either.

God, I miss it already. Bring on next year.

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