Of the many kneejerk reactions that have followed England-Montenegro, the one that has annoyed me the most is the popular desire for Jack Wilshere to be made a key player in the national team. Yes, the kid’s got technique. Yes, he plays a more continental style than any Englishman in years. However, he’s still eighteen and needs time to develop. His displays this season have been encouraging but far from consistent and if he is to maximise his potential then the last thing he needs is to be thrown in at the deep end and told that the irrational hopes of fifty million people rest entirely on his shoulders.
England’s long-standing obsession with “Great White Hopes” has to end for the side to progress. Michael Owen burned twice as bright as his peers but for half as long, Wayne Rooney’s technical limitations are being exploited more than ever and yet still people demand the premature promotion of a teenager to rescue England from international mediocrity. Given that the national youth coaching system has been correctly identified as a problem area, England supporters have to accept that while the appropriate changes are being made and better players developed, the national team will remain no better than average.
In a nutshell: let the next generation, Wilshere especially, gain experience, refine their games and come into the national side in a few years.