ENGLAND: Lost the spark?


The term “one-man-team” is thrown about a lot these days, but for the England national team I’m afraid it’s a phrase that so aptly describes them.

When you consider the vast array of expensive egos that stand facing the Royal box at Wembley, those three words become even more worrying and frustrating. England have got some very talented players, such as Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Ashley Cole with perhaps Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard being the two players that you could argue are, despite now well into their 30s, still world-class players. On the other hand we have Rooney who for all of his hype never lived up to the potential that he so brilliantly displayed at Euro 2004. The Man United star still hasn’t found his true position and poor man-management by Sir Alex Ferguson and numerous England gaffers has led to the Scouser, although still a great player, lagging way behind the Cristiano Ronaldo’s and Lionel Messi’s of this world.

The 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland, coupled with what is now becoming an endless shower of poor showings stretching right back across the last few years, proves that this Golden Generation has now died out. But fear not Three Lions fans, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Arguably the best performance of the last year or so came at Wembley in the 2-1 victory over Brazil when a certain midfielder absolutely tore the Samba stars apart. That man was Jack Wilshere.

Wilshere is the creative spark that both Arsenal and England have been so vividly missing of late. The young midfielder links defence and attack so smoothly and brilliantly, and he seldom throws possession away. He simply glides past opponents and threads wonderfully-weighted passes through to other players. He is the one truly young world-class player that we have and he’s only going to get better and better. Call me whatever insult that pops into your head, but I’d describe him as a modern Paul Scholes and Zinedine Zidane rolled into one. Unfortunately, the Gunners ace has been absolutely blighted by injury, missing an entire season and months of this campaign which has meant that he is probably slightly behind where he should be at this stage of his development. Despite this, when he has played he has looked exceptional for both club and country, and the two respective managers will be very quick to acknowledge that he is becoming pivotal to their sides success.

Of course, you can’t play with just one player – but you can build around him. With young stars like Kyle Walker, Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as many more, now beginning to come of age, England fans can rest assured that their team will remain safe in the hands of Hodgson and his talented squad. One thing is becoming blatantly obvious however, without Wilshere, England are a boring and mediocre side that lacks creativity and if they are to end their frankly ridiculous wait for a major trophy; I think that it very much depends on whether or not they can keep him fit.

He’s not the finished article yet, but at such a young age Wilshere is maturing into one of the better, more honest and committed midfielders in this modern footballing world of white ankle tape and Tom Daley re-enactments. He combines new exciting skills and balance with traditional English grit and determination. As supporters of our nation we must all pray and hope that young Jack reaches his potential and surpasses it. Then, and only then, may we see another moment like this…


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