Given the fixture this Sunday I thought it would be timely to catch up with a Bournemouth die-hard with no agenda to find out how our prodigal son Jack Wilshere is really doing. I got some time with Steve at Cherries site ‘Tales from the South End’ a renowned AFC Bournemouth blogger. First a bit about the site in Steve’s own well-chosen words
“Back when the Internet was still dial-up it was time for an AFC Bournemouth fan site that told the story of the fans. Tales from the South End was born. But, the fans didn’t want to tell their tale and couldn’t say five words so it has become better known as The South End. Over ten years later and still I cannot free myself from the love I have for AFC Bournemouth and desire to let everyone know what I think.”
Firstly Steve a proper thanks from me and all at Gunners Town for taking some time out to chat about Jack.
It has been an incredible few years for Bournemouth. When my son was playing there at U15s only 7 years ago the club were in receivership and had a transfer embargo imposed by the Inland Revenue. As I recall Eddie Howe, then newly promoted from the School of Excellence, could not even bid for Charlie Austin from Poole Town. So firstly ‘Howe’ does it feel to be an established Premier League Club or do you feel that you are?
Just imagine if we didn’t have a transfer embargo Eddie could have signed Austin. Think he might have done alright in League Two, especially playing up front with the legend that is Supa Fletch. A second season in the Premier League is an achievement in itself, but I wouldn’t really consider us established yet. If we stay up this season (which we will) then I think we can start considering AFC Bournemouth as a Premier League team. Sadly, I still miss the days of being in League Two and going to grounds like Aldershot. You don’t get anything quite so quite colloquial in the Premier League.
Your manager, due to his playing style is linked with Arsenal as a possible replacement for Arsene Wenger, when he finally hangs up his unzipping coat. Does that make you annoyed or proud and do you see it as a possibility?
Speculation from the Press always irritates me, but they need a story. Eddie Howe is an English up and coming manager so he is always going to be linked with the best jobs out there. His attacking ethos would fit well with how Arsenal play and I think it’s a distinct possibility that he may well be a future Arsenal manager. But, what most people seem to forget is that he has plenty of time ahead of him and he is happy at Bournemouth. He won’t be going anywhere for the next few years. Or maybe he will do a Wenger and stay at Bournemouth for 20 years. I’d like to see Champions League football at Dean Court.
What was your honest initial reaction when the news broke that Jack Wilshere was heading to ‘The Vitality’ for talks about a loan and was he a player you admired?
Like everyone else surprised. But, as the day drew closer the very unlikely scenario of Jack Wilshire playing for little old Bournemouth became more and more of a reality. Much was made of his friendship with Afobe and along with Eddie Howe being the manager it seemed like a good fit. Let’s be honest a fit Jack Wilshere playing at his best is a player anyone would want and being a bit of an Arsenal fan I welcomed him with open arms; Even though it still seems a little unreal when I see his name in the line-up.
He is now getting regular football and taken the place of Gosling I think. How do you feel he has settled in and has his presence disrupted the fabulous team spirit at all?
Gosling wasn’t a regular in the team when Wilshere joined. If he has taken over from anyone it’s probably Josh King. But, his slow introduction to the team means that the team spirit hasn’t been affected. He has seemingly bonded well with his teammates and has been saying all the rights things.
Where has he been playing in the main and in what formation? It is hard to tell sometimes from highlights?
It’s hard to tell when watching him play. Since he has been in the match day squad Eddie Howe has tweaked his formation from a 4-4-2 to more of a 4-2-3-1. Typically he has been playing as an attacking midfielder in the centre of the three with Arter and Surman (or Gosling) playing more of the holding roles. But, as will all know it’s never that simple.
What do you see has his main strengths and assets that he has brought to the Cherries play?
His vision, passing ability and strength to hold onto the ball are obvious for all to see. Even when he wasn’t fully fit he could still pick out a pass that others couldn’t see. And, the longer he has played with the team the better his understanding and awareness of his teammates has become. He can now play 90 minutes and it won’t be long before he scores a goal or ten.
All the above in evidence:
It is hard from my perspective to see Jack playing elsewhere but the key was for him to get fitter, stronger and play regularly. Is a progression evident the more he plays?
He is a very different player from when he first got here. Howe’s plan to ease him into the squad and slowly get him back to full fitness has proved fruitful. By the end of the season he will be the Jack of old and pushing us to the Champions League (Leicester did it)
Were you surprised that he was back in the England squad so soon or does he merit it and should he have played v Spain?
Yes. He is a talented fellow, but he is not back to his best yet. But, if he carries on as he is then by the next time England come to play I think he will be worthy of a spot in the squad and probably the team.
The million dollar question – Do you see Jack back at the Emirates next season and if so where would you see him playing in our 4231?
There are rumours flying around that he will be off to Milan, but I don’t see it happening. If he gets back to his best the obvious place for him is Arsenal. Will Wenger want him back? He may have already got a replacement by next season and Wilshere could be in the same boat again, not getting regular first-team football. I think the best solution would be another season on loan at Bournemouth. If he does come back he should play in exactly the same position that he plays for AFC Bournemouth, in the middle of the three for continuity.
Lastly will you miss him this Sunday and how do you see your boys doing against The Arsenal?
Of course we will. It’s a shame that he can’t play and show the Arsenal fans exactly what they are missing. As for the game, I find it difficult to believe that we will get anything better than a draw. You played Weds but I don’t think that will have any effect on the outcome, though I hope it does. I’m going for a hopeful 1-1 draw and a blinkered 3-1 win. Certainly the odds point towards an Arsenal win.
Thanks Steve for taking the time. I am one of many Gooners, although not all I suspect, who do want Jack back where he belongs and it sounds as if he is well on track thanks to Eddie Howe