Paul Scholes was not the first former player or TV pundit to cast doubt on the progress being made by the Arsenal and England star Jack Wilshere, but his harsh slating of the midfielder and his Arsenal team mates was the one to really hit the headlines last season.
It seemed to hit home with Jack as well, perhaps because Scholes played the same sort of role for England and Manchester United and Wilshere has great respect for him. I think that may have helped Jack to really get his football career moving in the right way again, with his performances so far this season for the Gunners getting better game by game.
And Scholes has dropped the criticism of the 22-year old, but he does think that England made a mistake in trying to turn him into a defensive midfielder. He wrote in The Independent about the England win in Switzerland and Wilshere’s new role, which he feels is completely wasting his talents.
Scholes also feels that the young Gunner could do with a proper defensive midfielder to play alongside, for both Arsenal and England, to really get the best out of his attacking instincts.
Scholes explained, “Jack has great ability and at some point I hope that he will be in a position to score goals and to create them. But I just do not believe that playing in front of the back four, on his own, suits him.
“Wilshere is an attacking midfielder, as I was for most of my career. He is not a defensive midfielder and I feel at the moment he is stuck between the two roles. He is being asked to control the play from a deep position, which does not play to his strengths.
“As an attacking midfielder at United, I was lucky to play alongside some of the best defensively-minded midfielders in the game: Nicky Butt, Roy Keane and Michael Carrick. What they gave me was the confidence to get forward, to take risks and score goals safe in the knowledge that they would provide the cover.
“It was not just me at United who benefited from that kind of partnership. For much of his career at Chelsea, Frank Lampard was given the same protection by the likes of Claude Makélélé.
“In my case I had the trust in my team-mates in midfield that if we lost the ball they were capable of covering. On top of that I played in front of great centre-halves like Jaap Stam, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, who had the ability to take the ball off strikers with ease. It was another layer of protection that you need as an attacking midfielder.
“I feel that Wilshere does not have that freedom. He is caught between being an attacking midfielder and one with defensive responsibilities. At Arsenal he does not have the security of a top-level defensive midfielder alongside him. It is the same with England.”
I agree and wish that someone could get this through to Arsene Wenger, but will the penny ever drop?