What to expect from Wilshere next season

The Wengerism ‘like a new signing’ will never be greeted with more excitement than when Jack Wilshere returns to action for Arsenal next season.

The extremely talented 20-year-old missed the entire 2011/12 season with a recurring ankle problem after a highly impressive first campaign in Arsenal’s midfield. With the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, much was expected of Wilshere this year, as will no doubt be the case next season, but looking back at some other notable victims of long-term injuries, it might be wise to be cautious with your excitement.

The evidence has been right in front of our eyes this season with Aaron Ramsey. After a few promising appearances at the end of last season, it looked like Ramsey was well and truly back after a year out following his broken leg. However, perhaps too much was expected too soon, from the manager as well as the fans, as it became increasingly clear that Ramsey was struggling with being first choice again so soon. Towards the end of the season, a fine renaissance in form from Tomas Rosicky gave Ramsey a bit of a rest. Rosicky himself is a player who has had to come back after a very lengthy absence through injury, and it arguably took him another two years to rediscover his best form.

Ramsey is young and will get another chance next year, so it would be unwise to write him off yet. Especially as he had some good games this year, but he simply struggled with the amount he was expected to play. Hopefully there will be less pressure on him next year, but it remains to be seen if he will ever truly become the player he could have been.

A player who suffered a similar injury at the hands (or feet) of thuggery from another player, Eduardo, unfortunately never got back to his best. Of course, looking at the likes of Chamakh and Park now, one wonders if the Crozilian striker would’ve been a better option even if only at 60% of his abilities, but that’s another issue. The difference with Eduardo and Ramsey from Wilshere might be psychological – because their injuries were inflicted on them by rash challenges; there might be a fear of playing too physically. Wilshere’s injury was simply bad luck and a small injury that ended up getting worse, rather than being one big injury from the beginning.

Similarly, players like Robert Pires, Gilberto and more recently Thomas Vermaelen, managed to come back to their best from injuries that were simply accidents. Perhaps when a player knows their injury was a bit of a fluke they don’t play with the same fear that Eduardo and Ramsey might have, but instead come back even more determined to make up for lost time. Ruud van Nistelrooy is a non-Arsenal example of another player who managed to come back stronger, but then his Man United team-mate Alan Smith was the complete opposite, seemingly forgetting how to score goals since his injury.

However, these are all players playing closer to their peak age. There have been players who got injured at a crucial point in their development and never came back to achieving their potential. Before signing Aaron Ramsey, we were looking at Man City’s promising young midfielder Michael Johnson, who had enjoyed a very impressive 2007/08 season and looked a great prospect. Even as the money and big names poured in at Eastlands, Johnson looked very much like becoming a star name before an abdominal problem came along and wouldn’t go away. Years have passed now and we’ve hardly seen Johnson since. After one big injury, niggling ones have followed and he’s never managed to get a run of games consistently to find some form again.

At Arsenal, another youngster that look destined for big things had a promising career wrecked by injuries. In the 2004/05 Carling Cup we saw a glimpse of quick, skillful left winger Ryan Smith, who was very highly rated by Arsene Wenger and other coaches from the academy. Surprisingly, it was only in 2006/07 that he finally left the club, after a few loan spells and efforts to help him overcome his fitness problems, such was his potential. Now 25, having failed to make it at the likes of Crystal Palace and Millwall, he’s plying his trade in the MLS and has done some work as a DJ, football no longer being a main priority.

It’s scary to think that Wilshere could follow in the footsteps of Johnson and Smith. Sometimes you can be a really good player but just not have the luck.

Looking at these examples, it seems like players are perhaps more likely to recover from injuries later in their careers, whereas if they happen early they can seriously derail a player. Of course there are probably many other examples that I’ve not looked at, as well as other sports. Supposedly in tennis it is quite common for young players to get more injuries and struggle to recover, but I can’t claim to be an expert on this.

Whatever happens, we, as a club, need to be patient with Wilshere next season. The road to recovery is a long one, and he needs to be eased back. Last season he looked like becoming one of our most important players, but we may have to accept now that this might not happen for a while, or indeed ever.

Follow me on Twitter @markbrus

  • Keithfield2000

    Man C  Man U  Chelsea to bid for him, cos he wont win nothing all the time he stays at Arsenal will he

    • someone

      bro, he will no go anywhere..his passion to the club is 100%

      • he will go man shitty,man urinated or chelshit?? bitch pls.. go and see what he wrote his twitter.. he said i will stay at arsenal till he get retiring … typical plastic fan

    • Icot21

      They can bid all they want in two years Arsenal will earn slot more then them and considering we can already whoop manc and chelski we”ll be unstoppable

  • Daveydmx

    What an idiotic comment.

  • he won’t won anything all time with arsenal?? i bet you’re one guys that saying it arsenal will finish outside top 4th..i hope u don’t change your fucking brain when we win titles.. u brainless kid

  • OMG Arsenal

    Well thought out article and interesting history about the two lads who never recovered. Jack is a strong character and loves Arsenal to his core. You can be sure Wenger will follow his progress carefully and try and hold him back from overdoing or overextending himself. They do monitor every AFC player from scholars on up and despite the bad press AFC’s medical staff have been subjected to by ignoramus AAA and Anti-Wenger clowns as well as some media, we have state of the art and top notch professionals looking after our players.
    I predict that Jack will return in an occasional role at first and as he builds up match fitness, game timing and self-confidence, he’ll be back to his best after a month or so. Ramsey is not lacking any of the aforementioned skills but he is still struggling with his finishing and his positioning can be questionable, as can his willingness to track back on occasion. That said, he gives 100% effort every game and despite the previously mentioned clowns constant and ignorant criticism of him, Wenger knows his true value and potential and will do everything needed to ensure that both Ramsey and Wilshere are back to their best.

    • Samuell

      Sorry to burst the Arsenal fan,s bubble but neither Wilshere or Ramsey are Arsenal or Premiership  players,rather obvious in their
      woeful displays for the team ,over the past two seasons,excuses about being tired or suffering trauma or whatever else from a bro
      ken leg ,Ramsey,don,t cut it here,they,re mediocre players ,at best and aren,t needed at the Emirates?

      • Bell-end

        What a joke of a comment. Glad you arent an arsenal fan as you know nothing.

      • Johngrndn

        There have been some crazy comments on this site but you, Samuell take the biscuit !!! What are you on about ? Wilshere did not play last season so how could he be woeful ? But brilliant the season before. Ramsey had to play too many matches too soon afyer an horrendous injury. If he is good enough for AW he is sure good enough for me. By the way are you sure you are not from “down the road” / It sure reads like it

    • nakedgoon

      I seem to remember Wilshere bossing the midfield against Barcelona, amongst others