Wenger: Wilshere can handle 'excess'
Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal teenager Jack Wilshere can become one of England's greatest players, but doubts whether he could have handled the same pressures at such a young age. The combative 19-year-old midfielder is enjoying his breakthrough season with the Gunners following a productive loan spell at Bolton and made his full England debut against Denmark earlier this month.
Wilshere has found himself a central part of Wenger's young side, and ahead of tomorrow's League Cup final at Wembley against Birmingham, Gunners manager Wenger feels Wilshere has all the necessary qualities to have "a great career."
"One of the things you need to handle in England is the media projection, the fame, money," said Wenger. "Everything excessively in an excessive way. If you make a mistake in your life off the field, it's in excess in the papers. If you play well, it's in excess in the papers. If you don't play well, it's in excess as well so you have to be able to handle the passion of English football."
"Jack looks to have his feet on the ground and still lives with his family who will help him to deal with that," Wenger continued. "It is not easy and I'm not sure that me at 19 being Wilshere today, I would be able to handle that, but until now, he does."
Wenger feels both football and society in general is very different from the one he came into nearly 15 years ago, stating: "When I arrived here in October 1996 you would look around at the players during breakfast and you look around today and it has completely changed. People are more health conscious now," Wenger said. "The drinking culture still exists for some people when they are young, but in France that exists also."
Wilshere is the latest home-grown talent to make an impression on Arsenal's first-team squad, which despite all of their promise, have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup. Though, Wenger feels his team are on the cusp of something special.
"That time has come for us, because we are close in every competition to have a chance of winning," he said. "You reassure yourself when you know you can do things. We have to make sure that the emotion of the day doesn't disturb these things."
"It is important that our attitude is in line with the goal we have - the quality of our technical play, how we want to attack and how we want to defend," Wenger added. "At the end of the day we have to stay focused on playing our game, then we will have a good chance to win."
Of course, Wenger will not feel his job has been done with victory tomorrow, which must be achieved without both captain Cesc Fabregas and England winger Theo Walcott. "For me to be satisfied I must feel that the team must go as far as it can," he said. "We don't want to win this trophy and then consider the season over. The real quality of the players and me is to go as far as we can."