Sunday 19 November 2017

John Giles: Jack Wilshere's injury is another sign of declining career

Read John Giles' exclusive column every week in The Herald

Midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is on loan at Bournemouth from Arsenal, faces a spell of recovery following a fractured leg
Midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is on loan at Bournemouth from Arsenal, faces a spell of recovery following a fractured leg

JACK Wilshere has a broken leg again and will miss another chunk of his increasingly stop-start career because of it. Why am I not surprised?

This one looked worse than it was and Arsene Wenger claims that he will be back for pre-season with Arsenal – if they can agree a new contract.

Perhaps that should read, if they want to agree a new contract, something I would doubt, despite Wenger’s assertion that they will offer him a new deal.

I’ve lost count of the major injuries he’s suffered and on the face of it, he appears to be very unlucky.

But I also remember Jack hanging out of an open top bus, seriously under the weather and singing abusive songs about Arsenal’s London rivals Spurs after the FA Cup final in 2015.

That was far from an isolated incident and whether it's a shot of a cigarette hanging out of his mouth or a report of a nightclub row, Wilshere has had too many for comfort.

Everyone likes a good night out but most footballers don't get arrested or appear in a dishevelled state on the front pages of the tabloids after one.

Within the last 12 months, Wenger had to have a chat with him about smoking and this a player who was acclaimed as the midfielder of his generation when he first emerged.

That he fractured his leg playing for Bournemouth while on loan from Arsenal, tells its own story.

This lay-off will be about two months and Wilshere could do worse than open Roy Keane’s autobiography and read the chapter where he deals with his recovery from the cruciate injury he sustained during his now infamous run-in with Alf Inge Haaland.

Keane had an epiphany and realised that lifestyle played a huge part in a professional footballer’s life.

He admits in his book that his carefree attitude to drinking in his early years at Old Trafford brought attention from Alex Ferguson and that the aftermath of a night out sometimes left him ill-prepared for football and vulnerable to injuries.

That was completely honest and completely true. Football is hard work and your body must be right.

But there is a significant difference between Wilshere and Keane.

Roy made a decision during his bad injury lay-off to be true to his gift and almost went too far in the other direction so that he could extract the most from his career.

I don’t know this to be true but I can’t imagine that he would have packed away enough in the bank at that point to keep his family secure so there were good practical reasons for him to clean up his act. Wilshere has been a millionaire since his teenage years and he doesn’t have any money concerns.

Perhaps if he had, he wouldn’t be in the position he is in now.

Barca fairytale is over

THE cycle has turned, Barcelona are on the wane and I must admit to sadness at the passing of something which was truly great.

For me, the writing was on the wall the moment Luis Enrique made public his decision to quit at the end of this season.

Who better than the manager to make the judgement that he can do no more.

The visible evidence of that came in the two games against Juventus but particularly in the first, the 3-0 defeat.

Barca may still have the best strike force in the world but they don’t have the players to fill in around them.

There may well be other personal reasons for Enrique’s decision to step down but I believe he realised that he could not be the man to begin the rebuilding job which will be needed.

After all, where do you turn to after Lionel Messi? How can you top the best player in the world?

Perhaps Messi (below) has a part to play in a new Barcelona under a different manager, maybe Ronald Koeman or Diego Simeone, and likewise Neymar and Luis Suarez.

But the team which delighted us all and which, for three of four years, was the best club side I ever watched, is no more and I’m sad about that.

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