Speaking ahead of the game against Estonia today, Jack Wilshere expressed his belief that Wayne Rooney is a natural leader and that he helps the dressing room get together. Manchester United captain Rooney inherited the Three Lions’ captain’s armband from Steven Gerrard following the Liverpool man’s retirement from international football after the World Cup.
Wilshere has insisted that the transition has been easy for the team, and feels that the 28-year-old has had no problems adjusting to the mantle.
He’s a natural leader. You can see that. Even when Steven Gerrard was captain, Rooney was a big voice in the dressing room.
He gets everyone going, he encourages and he’s not scared to tell you when you’re doing something wrong. He’s the only one now who has been playing for England for 10 years, with the likes of Gerrard. He’s been through that generation.
Now it really feels like he’s the dad figure, if you like. He puts his arm around us, brings us together and gets us going. We’re young, we’re eager, we want to learn, and we want to win something with England. At the end of the day, that’s the main thing.
The Arsenal midfielder also revealed that he has been adapting his game to better fit into the England squad. Wilshere is naturally a box-to-box midfielder, and that is the role he fills in the Arsenal team as well, but Roy Hodgson prefers to play him as the base of a midfield diamond.
This restricts Wilshere’s movement on the pitch, but the Arsenal man is happy with the important role he has been given in the national setup and has revealed that he has been adapting to his role as a holding midfielder by studying footage of Bayern Munich’s Spanish midfield organiser Xabi Alonso. The 22-year-old is expected to reprise the role when Roy Hodgson’s side tackle Estonia in Tallinn.
I have been watching Xabi Alonso on video in the past couple of weeks.
He had a record number of passes in one game, 200 in one match, which is ridiculous. Watching players like him and (Andrea) Pirlo, you learn how clever they are, how intelligent they are on the ball.
In that role it’s important you understand that if you lose the ball, the opposition are in a dangerous position to counter-attack.
Whereas if I was playing a little bit higher, on the edge of the box, you can lose it and you have players around who can get the ball back.
You learn how they use the ball and you learn when it’s a good time to dribble or sometimes pass. I enjoy playing that role. I enjoy getting on the ball and starting attacks.
Wilshere has shown his creativity and vision several times previously, and he can also put in a good tackle. As such, he is more than capable of adapting into the defensive midfield role, and this might also solve Arsenal’s long standing problem in the holding midfield role.
Wilshere recently had stated that he was in the best form of his career, and his performances for Arsenal of late have been impressive. If he manages to continue in that vein of form, there is no limit to the heights he can achieve. He seems hungry this season, and that is a very positive sign for both the club and England. Provided his injury problems are kept under control, this could well be Wilshere’s break out season.