Sports

Arteta’s offer to Wilshere shows Arsenal’s class

Wilshere’s aproblems by Dan Smith

Arsene Wenger warned in his final year as manager that Arsenal as a fanbase were in danger of losing the values they had so long stood for.

Once known as the club who did things with class, we now have players who will openly say they have been mentally affected by the level of abuse aimed at them by some ‘fans’.

Other talents have been frozen out, quite literally paid to sit at home. There was talk that a mole existed, someone leaking about confidential information.

Then famously we handled Covid by asking the squad to take a pay cut to save staff jobs, only to lie and make 55 people redundant.

These are decisions that Mr Wenger wouldn’t have made, with the Frenchman always praising the spirit and togetherness within his teams.

So, it’s heart-warming to see the Gunners offer Jack Wilshere a place to train while he tries to find a new employer.

Doing a favour for someone associated with you since the age of 9 is indeed class.

Helping a man who literally grew up under your watch is the right thing to do.

The midfielder can’t find a club in England willing to offer him a contract based on his injury record so it’s not likely either party are viewing this as a first step to the 29-year-old re-signing for us.

In other words, Arteta doesn’t gain anything out of this. As Wilshere’s ex-captain, he simply recognizes what Super Jack means to most Gooners and wants to help by giving his former teammate access to our world class training facilities.

It can’t hurt our manager’s reputation because at times he has come across too ruthless. Once he decides you don’t meet his ethos, he will discard you and know why he has treated all his players the same way.

Whether Wilshire trains on his own or joins in with team drills, it can only help his fitness. Yet more importantly it’s a boost to his mental state.

If you watch his interview with The Athletic, while he doesn’t claim to be depressed, it’s hard not to be concerned about a young man’s welfare.

Representing CALM and Original Penguin, Wilshere admits that a lot of feedback from his meeting with David Ornstein was concern and empathy. He admits he was relieved as he was originally worried how the public would perceive a footballer saying how he feels.

Here is a player once predicted to be a future captain for club and country, once so good he was man of the match when beating Barcelona, the face of a young Arsenal team, etc.

Now not even 30, he was talking about not knowing what he was training for, losing the passion for the sport and even considering retirement.

He clearly feels let down by his image in the UK of being injury prone and has regrets about choices he made.

He admits regretting not accepting Unai Emery’s ‘pay as you play’ deal, as that was a midfield he could have broken into.

Wherever he truly believes his body can handle topflight football only he knows. One thing is clear, that years of the mind being willing, and the body was not, has taken its toll.

Which makes it a vicious cycle because unless the mind is healthy, it doesn’t matter what physical shape he gets himself into.

He’s learnt this week that saying how you feel isn’t a weakness, but in fact bravery.

If you ever feel low, on your own or isolated, or just need to talk, call the Samaritans for free on 116 123…

 

Dan Smith

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