By 90Min
September 27, 2018

It was always going to be a matter of when, not if, West Ham midfielder Jack Wilshere broke down injured.

The former Arsenal star's list of career niggles are as long as an Argos catalogue, which as you might imagine, played a significant part in the north London side's decision not to renew his contract this summer. 

It's therefore little surprise that Wilshere finds himself on the sidelines once more for his new club - albeit through complications from a previous ankle problem. Nevertheless, this latest enforced absence will cast further doubts on Wilshere's ability to stay fit, with an anticipated six-week rehabilitation schedule now in the pipeline.

Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

On the surface, it would seem his absence will deal a significant blow to the Hammers' cause (with the lack of central midfield options available to Manuel Pellegrini glaringly obvious). After all, Wilshere has arrived at the London Stadium with quite the reputation. Delve a little deeper though into his first few Hammers performances, as well as those at the back end of his Arsenal career, and you realise that he may not be missed that much after all. 

Why? Because Wilshere looks a shadow of his former self. It seems surreal to say that of a 26-year-old, but if we're all honest with ourselves, it's true. The burgeoning talent that Wilshere demonstrated as a youngster has all but evaporated, and it seems as if he is having a crisis of confidence. His midfield 'identity' is murky at best and his performances certainly suggest that he has no real belief in what he is trying to do.

Put simply, the notion of Wilshere picking up the ball and waltzing forward with panache, swagger and confidence (like he demonstrated as a brash, confident teenager) is a thing of the past. 

Instead, West Ham now have a player who simply drifts around the midfield without any impetus or drive to get a grip of proceedings. From afar, it feels like Wilshere is afraid to test his bodies capabilities out to the max - instead opting to play within himself and at a level that is generally considered to be of Premier League standard.


That simply won't do. Not in a team that is less talented than the Arsenal side that used to play around him for many years. Such performances at the Emirates could often be covered for in a side that predominantly came out on the winning side. Relying on such laurels won't wash at the London Stadium though. 


The Hammers are often on the back foot, and play more with a containing, counter attacking mentality. Playing with such a system means that you typically need your central midfielders to be physically robust and tough in the tackle. Wilshere isn't afraid to get stuck in - but his tendency to drift out of position, both with and without possession, has been a huge concern at the start of his West Ham career. 


Split open countless times by a simple through pass through the middle, Wilshere, alongside either Mark Noble or Carlos Sanchez, have been found wanting time and time again positionally. Saying that about a player who has played just a handful of games is deeply troubling, and upon his return to fitness, things must change.

James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

If they don't, his place in the team is likely to be taken by Declan Rice or Pedro Obiang, if not both. The Hammers have already looked more defensively sound since they have switched formation to accommodate both, and it's unlikely that manager Manuel Pellegrini will have another sudden change of tactical heart.

That in itself must be a worry to Wilshere, who has surely looked on from the sidelines with a slight feeling of trepidation. He'll have recognised the improvement in West Ham's overall  performances, and will know that he must do better. The discipline shown by Obiang and Rice to stick at their task, work as a unit and keep the shape of the team more structured are lessons that Wilshere can learn.

The fundamental issue here though is that Wilshere shouldn't need to learn these things. He's been around the top level of the game for long enough, and should ultimately take more responsibility for the quality of his performances. Too often, there is finger pointing and a distinct lack of accountability being taken during the game - despite all the right things being when addressing media scrutiny and criticisms.

Henry Browne/GettyImages

That has to change. Wilshere needs to knuckle down, accept that he perhaps isn't as good as thinks he is and prove to West Ham fans across the country that he is worthy of his reputed £100,000 a week salary. If he doesn't, it could be a long season for a player once labelled as one of English football's brightest talents.

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