Fascinating insights about Arsenal from Jack Wilshere’s interview with Simon Jordan

With it being the International Break we have to find our Arsenal content elsewhere.

Simon Jordan’s latest guest on his ‘Up Front’ podcast was the Gunner’s under 18 coach Jack Wilshere

I was at the Emirates when a 16-year-old Wilshere scored his first senior goal. For club and country, he was predicted as a future captain. The mind was willing but ultimately the body was not, injuries forcing him to retire at the age of 30.

One of the best things Mikel Arteta has done is keeping his former teammate in the Arsenal family, first giving Wilshere a place to train when he was a free agent, then giving him a job with our youngsters

Here are 10 things we learnt from the podcast…

Retired At 26

He’s long admitted the struggles of mentally coming to terms with retirement. So, it’s refreshing that Wilshere can now admit things he might not have at the time.

The midfielder spent the final years of his career trying to prove his fitness to employers in the Championship and even Denmark.

He finally hung up his boots at the age of 30 but accepts in reality from 26 he was in decline.

Many knew it, it just took the man himself some time to accept the truth.

Regrets leaving Arsenal.

Even though staying at Arsenal would have meant accepting a contract incentivised on how many games he played, Wilshere felt leaving North London increased his fitness issues.

While he would have made more money at West Ham then the Gunners were offering at the time, the player missed the support network he had at the Emirates. Under Mr Wenger’s guidance he had medics, therapists and coaches who knew everything about him and his training requirements to safeguard his ankles. At the London Stadium that didn’t exist.

The midfielder’s body also didn’t adjust to, for the first time, not controlling possession and chasing the ball.

Emery didn’t think he was’ relevant’.

After a year on the sidelines and a loan away to prove his fitness, Arsene Wenger revealed to the youngster the Kroenke Family were unwilling to carry on paying such a salary for a player mostly on the sidelines.

All parties reached a compromise…. Wilshere would have his contract extended if he could prove his fitness in the last 12 months of his deal.

Eventually Wilshere was made an offer heavily incentivised used on how many games he played. He was happy to accept those terms when Mr Wenger was in charge, a man he trusted, but was less keen when his boss announced he was leaving.

Wanting to know Unai Emery’s perception of him before putting pen to paper, the Spaniard made it clear it was unlikely he would play, often suggesting Wilshere find a team where he would be ‘relevant’.

Feared Gallas

There is a famous clip of our players warming up at Chelsea in a huge game in a title race where Gallas (not put off by the camera) lectured a teenage Theo Walcott about not letting himself be bullied.

The defender lacked the leadership skills to manager a young dressing room, eventually having the captaincy taken away from him.

That didn’t stop the Frenchman constantly screaming at Wilshere every time he gave the ball away.

In his first few senior games, Wilshere was so crippled by a fear of making mistakes he intentionally played the simple pass.

Lack Of Leadership

In the two decades without a title the perception of Arsenal has often been a young dressing room lacking experience.

Numerous times during this podcast Simon Jordan queries how much leadership surrounded Wilshere and while he clearly wants to be respectful to his peers, Jack admits it was lacking, feeling pressured to step up at a young age.

In hindsight he realises that Gallas was old school and that he was simply used to a certain standard. Fabregas led by example, Van Persie wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion, etc.

Yet mostly, Wilshere paints a picture of a squad aware the club were in tradition due to stadium debt with several questioning the ambition.

Wenger questioned.

Many Gooners won’t forgive the way Nasri and Fabregas forced through their Arsenal exits.

Others call Van Persie a traitor for joining Man United.

Yet Wilshere paints a picture of these players caring more than some might think, eventually becoming underwhelmed by the direction of the club.

Jack recalls the trio questioning Mr Wenger when players started to join Man City, wondering if the target was still to be title contenders?

In his last few months, Fabregas is described at desperate to leave having accepted Arsenal’s limitations.

When Fabregas and Nasri were sold in the same summer Van Persie would vocally express concerns about how far we were regressing.

Top 4 A Trophy?

Mr Wenger would be mocked for saying this but in reality, 6 years after leaving it’s something the club have only managed once and is now celebrated by most fans.

To clarify Mr Wenger would be verbally abused for only finishing in the top 4 only to 6 years later …. only finish in the top 4.

Yet to again prove the lack of leadership at the club, by the time Wilshere regained fitness players no longer questioned why or how or when Arsenal were no longer title contenders?

Before his injury, a young Wilshere observed Fabregas, Nasri and Van Persie fight for and bemoan the club’s lack of ambition.

By the time he returned a quiet dressing room accepted their limitations, openly acknowledging they couldn’t compete with the Manchester clubs and that 4th was our level!


Wilshere said he immediately recognised that Mike Arteta would be a future manager.

The Spaniard walked in from Everton and immediately become the main leader in a young dressing room.

Quickly made captain, Arteta demanded higher standard in training, match preparation and would even take it upon himself to hold team meetings.

Even as a player, Arteta would be obsessed with finding solutions tactically.

When invited to return to Arsenal to have somewhere to train, Wilshere had sessions he describes as the best he ever had.

In a huge compliment, Wilshere describes Arteta as the best coach he’s ever seen in terms of finding ways to solve problems. Given he was only around to stay fit, that’s some statement.

Arsenal kept Arteta’s influence under the radar at the time and perhaps Mr Wenger made a mistake not offering him a job after retirement?

Instead, Arteta would serve his apprenticeship at Man City

Eddie Howe

Wilshere hints a couple of times that he felt not looked after at West Ham.

He did at Bournemouth though.

Eddie Howe took the time to manage the player, creating an individual training regime that changed Wilshere’s preparation going forward.

The End

First Wilshere dropped down a division to rejoin the Cherries but wasn’t offered a full-time contract. That was a serious alarm bell!

Then he trained with Arsenal just to stay fit. Despite feeling he was more than competitive among our first team the midfielder found most employers discriminated him for his injury record.

Having previously rejected offers to move to Italy, Turkey and Cyprus, Wilshere accepted a move to Denmark.

He described the standard as a reasonable level but one that in theory he should have been superior too, instead of just okay.

Jack Wilshere? A Future Arsenal Manager?

Head over to YouTube if you want to listen.

Dan Smith

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  1. Excellent article Dan, and I have to say I admire you for your sufferance of Simon Jordan, but you have a great story for it.
    I hope Jack can still make a career for himself with Arsenal as he still has so much to offer.

  2. Just managed to read this excellent article Dan and five things stood out for me.

    1. His total respect for Arsene, Mikel and the club and how desperate he was not to be seen as bleeding the club dry – something a section of the fans gave him no credit for, rather screaming out that he should leave the club as he was injured so often.

    2. How the players themselves realized what building the Emirates really meant in terms of hindering the club on the field – something that seems not to register with some fans when bemoaning AW’s time after moving there.

    3. The involvement of the Kronkies in the players salaries and contracts – something that I didn’t realise was so relevant at the time, considering that we were told by knowledgeable fans that AW controlled everything at the club.

    4. The way that Gallas is viewed by those who worked with him – he seems a nasty piece of work, something that Jon Fox has often remarked about and his opinion seems to be correct on this occasion.

    5. How Jack describes the way Fabregas, RVP and Nasri forced their way out of the club – something that AW has been blamed for with regards to “letting” them go.

    A really interesting insight into the time that Jack had and his immediate recognition of Mikel Arteta’s abilities.

    More of these articles Dan, as it feeds my need to know all about our club – excellent!!

    1. Great insights Ken. The kroenks “stopped caring” or at least the senior one. Completely the opposite now . The club’s ambition or lack of I might say led to player departure. All along we knew players were sold to repay stadium debt!

  3. I love Jack’s style of play, respectful approach to the game, and passion for the club so so much. I would love to see him become our manager one day.

  4. Good read Dan 👍
    That goal he scored against Norwich was one of best in the prem ,only second to Bergkamps against Newcastle in my bias opinion.

  5. Nice article. I do hope Jack makes it in football management/coaching, the signs are there, all he needs is to be hardworking,pay firm attention to details and of course emphasize on margins. Good luck to him in all his aspirations.

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