Stuart Pearce is a mediocre manager who harbours dreams of being England boss one day. Harry Redknapp is in pole position to take over from Capello next July, but if Pearce could win the European Under-21 Championship finals in Denmark this summer, his chances would be enhanced.
That is the main reason Jack Wilshere is in his squad.
It is not for the benefit of Wilshere – what is he going to learn playing against youngsters from other countries, many of whom aren’t even regulars in their own club sides? He has played 48 games for Arsenal this season in the Premiership and Champions League, testing his skills against world class midfielders like Xavi, Iniesta, Lampard, Essien and Gerrard. How will spending his summer break outclassing kids from Ukraine and the Czech Republic benefit him?
Short answer – it won’t. It’ll mainly benefit Stuart Pearce, who defended Wilshere’s call up earlier this month by saying:
“The indications I have had from Jack is that he wants to play. I have a feeling we [Pearce and Wenger] are going to have different viewpoints, but the most important thing is the lad himself wanting to play in the under-21 tournament and I have had that conversation with him.”
No psycho, that isn’t the most important thing. If I asked my 5 year old whether he wanted to eat sweets for breakfast, ice cream for lunch and crisps for dinner, I expect he too would be as enthusiastic as Wilshere is – but it wouldn’t be good for him and it won’t be good for Wilshere.
"Jack, give us a hand getting the England job will you?"
In fact the most important thing is how it will effect Wilshere in the long run. Asking a 19 year old to play 48 games for Arsenal this season, the U-21s Championships this summer, a full season for Arsenal, the senior Euro Championships next summer, then another full season for Arsenal will burn him out. He will probably be so knackered by the time the full Euros come around in 13 months time that he will underperform. So in actuality picking him this summer probably won’t help the full team next summer – where’s the sense in that?
Wilshere is the most naturally talented teenager we’ve had since Wayne Rooney burst on to the scene. Rooney got one U-19 cap before making his full international debut, establishing himself as a first choice for Sven Eriksson pretty much immediately, just like Wilshere has for Fabio Capello. Was Rooney then asked to step down to the U-21s? Of course not. What would be the point?
The point is a selfish, self-serving one from Pearce. Brilliant as a player, he’s been underwhelming as a manager. Aside from a brief stint as a player-manager at Forest, he’s only had one proper managerial job, that of Manchester City boss. In his first season he guided the Blues to the dizzy heights of 15th in the Premiership, followed by 14th the year after, just four points off relegation. Pearce was then sacked and the FA decided his track record was worthy enough of the U-21 job.
So you see, it’s imperative Pearce bolsters his unimpressive managerial CV with U-21 success this summer. To the detriment of Arsenal, England’s Euro 2012 chances and – most importantly – Jack himself, Wilshere will sacrifice a summer of rest so that Pearce can further his forlorn England ambition. Disgraceful.
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