It has become a regular theme that losses lead to a bombardment of negative criticism with “Jack Wilshere the one positive” seemingly the only cause for optimism. Considering this, it is interesting that if media reports are to be believed, a “will he won’t he” situation is ongoing around Jack’s inclusion in England’s World Cup squad. Surely it is ludicrous to consider Jack would not be included in the squad? Presumably he is certain to start and any decision to the contrary would be an act of pure muscle flexing? So why can we be so confident of his inclusion?
Firstly, there is the long list of attributes. Jack is one of our only midfielders with the potential to reach world-class status with a unique skill set including the ability to beat players, excellent touch, incredible close ball control and good acceleration which form the basis for trademark drives upfield. It is this concoction of talent that creates the very definition of a complete midfielder. Accompanying his identifiable USP’s, Jack also has a good passing range, is a proven creator of chances and has an aggressive/confrontational personality that is perfect for the modern day midfield battle.
Secondly due to a lack of alternatives. We are not Spain of 10 years ago with Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva, Mata, Cazorla and Alonso competing for places. Remember whichever formation England employ, we will need a minimum of two central midfielders (of which only one can be purely defensive) meaning one will need an ability to control games from deep and act as the assistor to the assistors. Playing two defensive midfielders (as we have recently) will only invite pressure as we sit back and likely lose the ball regularly. Dele Alli and Adam Lallana are technically talented and likely to start but employing either from deep (as a traditional central midfielder) will restrict their natural tendency to get into attacking positions.
Jack is also one of our only players with experience of playing in big games, appearing in the latter rounds of domestic and European competitions against the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Ronaldo. This point is relevant in the context of the influx of foreign players in the Premier League meaning a higher percentage of the squad is made up of players from mid-table teams who lack such experience.
Finally, Jack brings the obvious benefit of flexibility to play a number of roles having operated as a holding midfielder, a number ten and wide forward in the past. These roles negatively impact his natural game but nevertheless tournament football requires adaptable and flexible players.
To conclude, no one is questioning Harry Kane’s, Kyle Walker’s or Raheem Sterling’s inclusion due to their top level ability, Wilshere should be considered in the same bracket. Besides, away from just ability, England have a very specific positional need for a deep technical midfielder and Wilshere fits the mould. One can only hope that common sense prevails.