Jack Wilshere awaits police probe into nightclub 'fracas'
Jack Wilshere has again been reminded of his off-field responsibilities by Arsenal as police investigations continued today into a fracas outside a London nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Although aware of Wilshere’s insistence that he was not involved in an alleged assault, there is considerable exasperation inside Arsenal that their midfielder’s off-field behaviour is again the centre of attention.
Wilshere has not played the full 90 minutes of a match for Arsenal since September 2014 and had only returned to full training on Friday following more than eight months out with a fracture to his leg.
The fact, then, that he was even socialising in central London the following night will renew questions about his professionalism ahead of a planned comeback for the Under-21 team against Newcastle United on Friday. Video footage shows Wilshere attempting to hide his face as he is spoken to by police at around 2.15am on a back street of central London on Sunday.
The Café de Paris has been quoted saying that someone by the name of Jack was asked to leave their premises and, with police present, an onlooker is heard saying: “Jack, don’t get nicked”.
It was reported that a man, said to be a nightclub promoter, made the assault allegation. One witness yesterday described the incident as “handbags” but police inquiries are ongoing and it is understood that CCTV footage from a nearby Bureau de Change may be influential in deciding whether any further action is taken.
Wilshere was on a day off on Sunday but reported back for training yesterday morning, where he was spoken to by manager Arsene Wenger. Arsenal say that the matter will be dealt with internally and it is understood that the club were yesterday still establishing all the facts before decided whether to take any disciplinary action.
Frank McLintock, the former Arsenal captain, believes that Wenger will be deeply frustrated. “I think Arsene Wenger will be tearing his hair out,” he said. “It's very poor. We're football players and we've all had our drinks but years ago to a certain extent we got away with it. Now everyone has a phone and they are taking photographs of you. It looks as though he was constantly being photographed and trying to keep away from it. This probably resulted in an argument... it's very stupid. But just being involved in it, after being involved in six or seven other occasions, isn't very clever of Jack at all.”
Wilshere joined the same 10Ten Talent firm as Pele in October 2014 but, although he still appears on their website, they no longer manage him and his affairs are handled by his dad, Andy.
Arsenal have always been hugely supportive of Wilshere but their patience has been tested by a series of off-field incidents. Wilshere clearly appeared drunk during the celebrations for the FA Cup final win last May - when he had made only a brief 14 minute cameo – ahead of joining up with the England squad later that same week. He has previously also been twice photographed holding a cigarette and once with a shisha pipe. In 2010, Wilshere received a caution for common assault, despite his claims that he was acting as a peacemaker in the incident. In 2011, he apologised after verbally abusing a taxi-driver who was wearing a Tottenham hat. The taxi-driver claimed that Wilshere tried to spit at him and described his behaviour as “the worst I’ve ever seen in my 38 years as a cabbie”.
Wenger has criticised Wilshere previously over the smoking incidents but has also always been adamant that he has no concerns about his dedication to football. Wilshere has also always appeared contrite following any incident. After the shisha pipe photograph, Wenger told Wilshere that it was down to him “to master his life” but stressed that one photograph or video was not necessarily representative of a player.
Wilshere has two years remaining on his £80,000-a-week Arsenal contract but there is little prospect of a new deal until he has proved his fitness after playing so little football in recent seasons.
The Met Police confirmed yesterday that they had attended an altercation between two groups of men in Coventry Street on Sunday morning and said that one man claimed to have been assaulted but did not require hospital treatment. No arrests have been made.
Wilshere, Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis were all seated within a few rows of each other on Monday night as Arsenal played Manchester City at The Emirates in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.