Why Jack Wilshere Belongs at Arsenal Under Arsene Wenger

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal warms up during a training session at London Colney on February 18, 2014 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Jack Wilshere has a symbolic significance to the Arsenal fans. He is a product of the club’s academy and marries outstanding technical ability with a typically British tenacity.

Despite mixed form this season, he is still seen as a future club captain and Arsenal legend.

However, one pundit believes he may have to move on from the Emirates Stadium to achieve his potential.

Outspoken former Gunner Stewart Robson told talkSPORT (h/t the Mirror):

[Wilshere] lacks discipline. He wants to get on the ball and charge into tackles, there seems to be no discipline. Who does that come from? The manager. Wenger has to make sure he has a role in the side where he knows what to do when he does and doesn't have the ball.

He can be petulant at times, but why is he petulant? Because the manager [is the same] on the sidelines and it's never been sorted out. If Jack gets the right manager in charge of him, and the right sort of coaching, he will become a world-class player. Arsene Wenger in my view is not that manager.

Like many players that have gone on to become top players, sometimes you have to move on. Jack Wilshere will at some point have to move away from Arsenal.

It’s clear Robson feels that Arsene Wenger lacks the necessary coaching know-how to conduct the alchemy required to turn Wilshere from superb prospect to world-class footballer.

Robson is much mistaken. Wenger’s track record speaks strongly to the contrary. Throughout his career, he has shown an unrivalled ability to get the most out of his players. He has made a habit of turning youngsters into fully-fledged stars and subsequently stars into profit.

Wenger spotted the teenage talent of Nicolas Anelka and turned him in to a forward coveted by Real Madrid. He nurtured Patrick Vieira into arguably the greatest midfielder in Arsenal’s history. His influence on Thierry Henry, both at Monaco and at Arsenal, was enormous. 

Only recently, Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas hailed Wenger in the Sun as the best manager in the world."

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger talks to Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal as he prepares to go on during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates Stadium on April 2, 2011 in London, England.
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Robson’s point is undermined further by the progress of another young Arsenal midfielder: Aaron Ramsey. Under Wenger’s tutelage, Ramsey has become one of the Premier League’s most potent box-to-box midfielders. There is no evidence to suggest Wilshere’s career won’t follow a similar trajectory.

The truth is that the principal barrier to Wilshere’s progression has been injuries, not the calibre of coaching. The England international missed nearly two years of competitive action with a recurring ankle problem. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal reacts after Jack Wilshere of Arsenal goes down following a challenge during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Londo
Michael Regan/Getty Images

This season, his form has been up and down. When Arsenal lost Ramsey to a thigh problem in December, Wilshere’s good form suggested he might be ready to plug the gap. However, sloppiness soon crept in to his game.

The nadir of his season was arguably the 5-1 defeat at Anfield, in which his midfield play was disastrously naive.

Robson is right in one respect: There is work to do yet. If Wilshere is to fulfil the glittering potential he showcased as a 16-year-old, he must improve significantly.

However, moving clubs would be a strange step. Arsenal and Wilshere belong together. What’s more, history suggests that regular football under Wenger can bring remarkable dividends.

It may not be long before Wilshere is being hailed in the same manner as Aaron Ramsey.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Reports lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.