Jack Wilshere – The Movie by Dan Smith
I wanted to pay my respects to Jack Wilshere, who was released by West Ham this week. He’s made it clear that it was the Hammers choice not to play him, and nothing to do with him not being fit. He maintains he can still perform at a high level.
Well we like to say, ‘Once a Gooner – always a Gooner’ so I just wanted to reflect on, for me, a sad story…
If Jack Wilshere’s life was a movie maybe it would be one of those films which jumps between times.
16th Feb 2011
It could start with him walking off the Emirates pitch with 60-000 people singing his name, Iniesta and Xavi both whispering in his ear how impressed they were by him, Arsenal having just beaten Barcelona, and it a question of not if the Gunners were winning a trophy that season but how many.
So we are starting our film with a high, cue dramatic music.
Then …….5 years later
Jack is sat in a grubby caffe looking at the view of sandbanks beach. He observes an old couple walking their dog. There are worse places to be in England than Bournemouth on a hot sunny day, but it’s opposite to the hustle and bustle of London life, which he grew up with. He has his agent with him who is over excited, trying to convince his client this is the loan move which gets him back in the first team for both Arsenal and England.
You see his girlfriend locked into her phone. Not that she does not care but has heard this routine for years now and is worried the mental impact it’s having on the father of her children chasing this impossible Dragon.
Mr Wilshere sneaks outside for a phone call, final reassurance he is doing the right thing moving to the South Coast for 12 months. He needs to hear his voice. He needs to be told it’s goodbye for now but not forever. He needs it promised that there is a job waiting for him if he proves his fitness …….
Mr Wenger reassures him that this is all part of his development and gives him his word that he truly believes the player will return to the levels of his former glory. There’s nice romantic music as Arsene ends the call and looks around his office. The film morphs into a montage…
There’s a photo of him meeting Jack’s parents when the 9-year-old signed school boy forms, the manager shaking the teenagers hand when being introduced to the 2009 FA Youth Cup Winners, there’s a present from the player – a 2010 England shirt worn on his first cap. There’s a reflective smile remembering those FA Cup celebrations.
As the Frenchman reads his emails though, the music turns darker. He deletes a message from Ivan Gazidis which enquires has he told Master Wilshere yet? Arsenal won’t be extending his contract!!!!! Mr Wenger hits delete with his mouse and leans back in his chair.
Throughout this movie Mr Wenger is a curious character. He’s not a hero, yet not a villain
He is one of those genius personalities written to have shades of grey. We learn that due to the father/son like relationship with super Jack he doesn’t want to break his heart by telling him the truth. He sees no harm in the midfielder believing he can still be as good as he was, as after all, it’s not impossible.
Yet one lie has led to another lie and now he’s become morally conflicted (just for dramatic effect lol). He’s used his power to have medical experts sacked when they threatened to tell the truth, that Mr Wenger was purposely misleading the patient in terms of how severe his injuries were.
We get flashbacks of Jack being reassured by his boss in the summer of 2011 that he would be back in February. When the room is clear, the doctor says, ’tell him the truth, he’s out for a year, he needs to know he may never be the same.’
Mr Wenger replies: ‘It would crush him!’
We get a quick glimpse into how the player would get a setback every time he was on the brink of a comeback. His mind willing, his body not…
19th April 2018
The Wilshere family are sat round the table worried because Jack hasn’t come home. He walks in, smiling. He said he just needed time to be on his own, that these were happy tears. That he had gotten off the phone to Mr Wenger and he WAS being offered an extension. Mr Wenger has apparently used his influence to convince the board to pay a pay as you play deal, heavily incentivised. While he knew he could get more money guaranteed elsewhere, this was the club he loved. The years of mental and physical pain was worth it. He had done it.
He kisses his partner on the head and says: ‘Finally …. I did it!’
The next morning Jack gets a text ……. Mr Wenger is leaving Arsenal!
3 months later
Jack Wilshere pulls up in the Colney car park and looks around. He’s saying goodbye. He has a meeting with a manager in truth, he’s never heard of before …. a Unai Emery? He’s lost all hope and has resigned himself that this meeting won’t go well!
He knew that part of Arsenal’s offer was based on the trust that Mr Wenger had in him. With his mentor now gone, he had zero hope left. He walks inside and is greeted by a ‘good ebening’…
I want my movie to end with zero conclusion. Let the viewers guess themselves how it ends and anticipate the next chapter.
The epilogue updates us to the current day …….
Jack Wilshere would sign for West Ham United in July 2018. After two years he only managed 16 appearances in the League. His contract was terminated in October 2020.
He’s currently in negotiations to play in Scotland with Rangers.
— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) October 5, 2020