Friday 21 October 2016

John Giles: I nearly 'choked on my toast' reading latest news on wayward Wilshere

Published 06/04/2016 | 17:50

Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere

Roy Hodgson is backing Jack Wilshere. I woke up yesterday morning to read that headline and I nearly choked on my toast.

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To be fair, the story wasn’t backed up with quotes but it rang completely true for me given what we know of the England manager and his extraordinarily political nature.

Hodgson never says anything which might be considered even mildly critical of anyone or anything and the idea that he would get involved in what he would see as an internal Arsenal matter would horrify him.

But he should be involved in this one because Euro 2016 is just a few months away now and what Hodgson should really be doing is telling Wilshere privately or publicly that his chance of going to France is hanging by a thread because of his latest nightclub excursion.

He should be on the phone to him asking whether Wilshere has lost his mind and he should be reminding him that thousands of kids look up to England internationals.


Normally I wouldn’t be advocating the notion that an international manager should stick his nose into club business but Arsene Wenger seems to have no control over this lad who is a serial offender when it comes to making bad headlines.

From foul-mouthed singing while very obviously out of his mind on drink to police cautions and shots of him smoking cigarettes and using shisha pipes, Wilshere has a pretty unsavoury picture archive.

He is also helping to further promote the stereotype which is very much out there at the moment that footballer’s are capable of anything.

Some of the commentary which followed the Adam Johnson case was astonishing. Lazy journalists and columnists offered him as a typical example of the profession he belonged to when he is anything but that.

The unmasking of Johnson as an abuser was connected to football only in as much as it was his fame and profile which allowed him access to his victim.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that professional footballers routinely seek out impressionable kids and abuse them but the rush to condemn “modern footballers” as lads all cut from the same cloth was very noticeable.

The vast majority of professional footballers get on with their lives quietly and never have run-ins with the law in a nightclub at one end of the scale or are arrested, tried and found guilty of sexual abuse at the other.

Wilshere's excesses are utterly trivial beside Johnson’s behaviour but he fits the general profile of obscenely wealthy young men with too much time on their hands and poor moral standards.

Let’s be real here. Smoking a cigarette or getting involved in a brawl in the small hours don’t really register beside the list of accusations Johnson had to face.

But they are not victimless misdemeanours. First and foremost, he is betraying his own talent. He is betraying Arsenal fans. He is betraying his manager Arsene Wenger and he is betraying his employer who has been paying him vast amounts of money to do nothing while he recovers from injury.

In the real world, most people get a few days sick leave or if they’re lucky, a week. Most people would not view time off while ill as the ideal moment to hit the nightclubs.

When I was playing, an injury gave me a chance to try to put right other small niggles and aches which might have been a problem. You cannot do that if you’re out partying all night. You are short-changing everyone.

Wilshere is paid a very large sum of money every week and the minimum requirement is that he be fit to run and play football.

Anything which gets in the way of that should be out of the question. Look, I know there has always been a culture of burning the candle at both ends in football and I’m not suggesting they have to be saints.

In his early years in England, Roy Keane had some high profile off-field moments but he came to realise that he often paid for a night on the town with his performances on the pitch.

Wilshere is throwing away his talent and he has hardly played any football in the last few years.

Before he knows it, it will all be over.

Herald Sport

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