Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims that midfielder Jack Wilshere is being targeted for unfair criticism due to the England team’s poor showing at the recent World Cup, reports The
The 22-year-old midfielder has had questions raised over his current standing from a number of people, most notably former England midfield trio and current television pundits Paul Scholes, Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher.
Wilshere became Arsenal’s youngest ever player when he made his debut against Blackburn Rovers in a Premier League match in September 2008 at the age of 16.
But Scholes, Redknapp and Carragher believe that he has barely improved since then, and his current form makes him unworthy even of a place in the Gunners side at the moment.
However, manager Wenger has defended his player, recognising the pressure that comes with receiving such high praise and attention at a young age.
“Before he was in a position receiving praise, then suddenly when you get to 22, the expectation level comes on you,” said Wenger. “Wayne Rooney has gone through that, now it is Wilshere.”
Wilshere made just two appearances at the World Cup in Brazil, coming on as a substitute in the opening defeat against Italy, and starting the final game against Costa Rica with England already out of the tournament.
He did not help his cause by being pictured smoking cigarettes in a swimming pool while on holiday in Los Angeles after England’s dismal exit. But Wenger still feels Wilshere is being made a scapegoat for the team’s failure, saying: “He pays the price for England not winning the World Cup.”
Wenger feels that Wilshere now just needs to ignore the naysayers. “I believe at the moment he should not respond to any criticism, just focus on his game,” he said.
The Arsenal boss acknowledged that Wilshere had possibly not progressed to the level previously expected by some people, but insisted that this was due to fitness issues rather than the attitude problems that some have claimed.
“If Wilshere can maintain physically to be fit then he will make a huge career,” said Wenger. “I think he is on target for where he should be. He is not as far as everyone expected him to be from when he was 18. But he’s not as far because he was injured, not because he doesn’t train seriously. He is a guy who when he goes out there, he wants to play, he works hard but he was out for one and a half years.”
Wilshere played 69 minutes of Arsenal’s late 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener, and remains in contention to face Everton this weekend.
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