Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 9 October 2020 at 11:13am
Written by: Graham Keeffe
On a brisk Wednesday night in 2011 during the Champions League Round of 16, a 19-year-old Jack Wilshere lit up the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal played host to a Barcelona side that appeared almost invincible under a young and meticulous Pep Guardiola. Managing to nullify the threat of a young Argentine by the name of Lionel Messi and running rings around a midfield that included Xavi and Iniesta, Wilshere’s performance stole the show as Arsenal ran out eventual 2-1 winners on the night. With an unrelenting work rate and diverse range of passing, it appeared as though both Arsenal and England had a potential superstar on their hands. Then England manager Fabio Capello declared him as “the future” and intended to shape his midfield around the seemingly natural number six. Wilshere would finish the 2010/2011 season having made an impressive 49 appearances in all competitions. Unfortunately however, this period marked the beginning of his fitness troubles.
Due to persistent ankle injuries, the Englishman was only able to display his true qualities over brief spells in the years that followed. While there were flashes of his brilliance, such as that fantastic goal against Norwich in 2014, he eventually opted to leave his boyhood club on loan in search of consistent first team football. At Bournemouth during the 16/17 season, Wilshere would find a return to fitness as he made 27 appearances for the Cherries. He returned to Arsenal the following season in an attempt to secure his place in the midfield. Despite making 20 league appearances for the Gunners, a change was needed. As such, he arrived in the East End as a free agent prior to the commencement of the 18/19 season. In spite of his track record of injuries, a fit Jack Wilshere provided the Hammers midfield with both experience and additional guile and on a free, it seemed to be an okay piece of business.
Unfortunately for Jack and us Hammers fans, it simply wasn’t to be. On deadline day 2020, after two years and a meagre 19 appearances, the boyhood claret and blue fan had his contract terminated by mutual consent. While he had suffered injuries during his time at West Ham, Wilshere maintained in an Instagram post that he had been “fully fit” for a large period of his time at the club but “had not been given the opportunity to play.” Much like the Grady situation, this social media post alludes to some of the unseen, more controversial inner workings of the club. While many fans will no doubt take the termination of Wilshere’s contract with a pinch of salt given his limited appearances, one can’t help but think of what could have been. At only 28, he still has plenty to offer the game. His experience at domestic and international level make him an attractive target for any club, particularly now that he appears fit. Describing himself as “still incredibly hungry, ambitious and desperate to play football”, we wish Jack well in his future endeavours.
One positive to be taken from Wilshere’s departure is that there is now scope for the likes of Conor Coventry to be given more opportunities to play. The young Irishman has already shown his capabilities in the Carabao Cup this season and will certainly give Moyes something to think about. Aside from this however, the Hammers remain light in terms of midfield options. As well as Wilshere, Josh Cullen also departed the club on deadline day for Belgian club Anderlecht. With transfer deals with Championship clubs still a possibility, fans will be hoping that the money generated from summer departures will be put towards strengthening the sparser areas of the squad.