Skip to content

Wilshere Watch: It’s becoming an international break tradition in England

Oct 8, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT

FB-WC2014-ENG-PRESSER Getty Images

I’m not a smoker, but every once in a while, you’ll catch me on a bar patio sharing a cigarette with a friend. Thankfully, nobody can makes selling pictures of my clandestine habit. If they did, my life would start to be as absurd as Jack Wilshere‘s.

The Arsenal midfielder has become English soccer obsession (we’ve talked about it before), and when the international break hits, the nation’s media are given license to play into their own ugly habit. The second the Three Lions assemble, Wilshere starts dominating headlines, regardless of whether he’s done anything to warrant the coverage.

This week, England could qualify for the World Cup. They could also slip and be relegated to UEFA’s playoffs. Wayne Rooney‘s returning to a team whose striking options are so thin Rickie Lambert‘s  getting a regular call-in. Ashely Cole’s out, Joe Hart‘s in crisis mode, but what’s the main talking point?

Why, it’s English Iniesta, of course. On The Guardian’s football page, Wilshere coverage is right below Gus Poyet’s appointment, a story that led the site early afternoon Eastern time. The angle? A player saying his nation has a bright future, according to the headline.

The Telegraph had a Wilshere story leading their football page. Their angle saw the midfielder reflecting on his immaturity in the face of his smoking scandal.

The Independent is more subdued in their Wilshere-philia, the smoking coverage linked half-way down their main football page, while The Daily Mail’s web page has taken a surprisingly modest route, tying the smoking incident into Wilshere’s hopes to contribute at next summer’s World Cup. The BBC chose the player’s thoughts on Rooney and Daniel Sturridge as their obligatory Wilshere-related content, featuring it under their lead story.

There’s no breaking news here, though on an international break’s Tuesday, there’s little breaking news in general. Something has to fill that void, though it’s curious that across a number of English outlets, the choice to fill the void is the same. Throw Jack Wilshere into that spot.

Wilshere did apparently speak to the media today, so his relative availability is a factor here. But given he didn’t say or do anything newsworthy today, getting so much mileage out of his quote implied anything said by a prominent athlete deserves this kind of placement. Are athletes really such discerning commentators that stating the obvious (i.e., Rooney and Sturridge are positive additions) qualifies as a story?

Perhaps not, but when it’s international break in England, the person behind the words becomes more important what’s being said. It’s always Jack Wilshere. It’s always about Arsenal’s much-hyped hope. And implicitly, it’s always about the extent to which a 21-year-old is embodying the hopes of his national team’s fans.

Which, of course, is terribly unfair. Wilshere’s just a player, one that has enough struggles to deal with beyond undo expectations being fueled by what’s becoming a media trope.  He doesn’t need one cigarette made into a scandal any more than he needs one sub-par performance in Ukraine held up as an exemplar of his career trajectory. At some point, all he needs is room to be 21 years old.

But it’s the international break. Every country has their points of interest. Just like U.S. media has their old chestnuts (remember all the Landon Donovan talk when he wasn’t even in the team), England has theirs. With David Beckham and John Terry no longer on the scene, there just aren’t as many default angles anymore.

If that means putting Jack Wilshere front-and-center based on a sneaky cigarette and some quotes, so be it. At this point, it’s standard operating procedure.

Latest Posts
  1. Blatter’s “Wolf of Wall Street” moment could play out the exact same way

    May 29, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Nominee for Best Actor in "The Wolf of Wall Street" Leonardo DiCaprio arrives on the red carpet for the 86th Academy Awards on March 2nd, 2014 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    We’re in the shadow of just one rushed afternoon, and the FBI and others are watching the money float off the yacht, hoping to strike.

  2. 2014-15 Premier League season review: PST’s Manager of the Season

    May 29, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Southampton v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    This award went down to the final vote. Do you agree with our pick?

  3. Sepp Blatter wins first vote 133-73, but not by enough to avoid second vote

    May 29, 2015, 1:02 PM EDT

    ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 29:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks during the 65th FIFA Congress at the Hallenstadion on May 29, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    There were 209 votes, and nations could abstain from voting as well.

  4. FA Cup final preview: Aston Villa underdogs in Arsenal’s pursuit of back-to-back cups

    May 29, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT

    Can the Gunners win a second-straight FA Cup? Sherwood’s Villa stand in the way.

  5. Report: Benteke has $50 million release clause, Liverpool ready to trigger

    May 29, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT

    It's two in two for Christian Benteke, who scored Villa's second against Liverpool Getty Images

    Aston Villa is hoping to keep the 24-year-old Belgian, who has scored 49 goals in 99 matches since coming to the England from Genk in 2012.

  6. 2014-15 Premier League season review: PST’s Player of the Season

    May 29, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    Eden Hazard, Chelsea FC Getty Images

    One man dominates our votes. He probably dominates your picks too…

  7. Al-Hussein, Blatter address voters ahead of presidential election; First vote coming

    May 29, 2015, 11:06 AM EDT

    FIFA President Sepp Blatter walks past challenger for the FIFA presidency, FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al Hussein (below,L) and UEFA President Michel Platini (below,R) during the opening of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29, 2015. FIFA president Sepp Blatter heads into a re-election vote amid FIFA's corruption scandal on May 29, 2015. "We need to fix FIFA right now"  Sepp Blatter told members of world football's governing body on May 29. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein and Sepp Blatter have addressed voters ahead of Friday’s presidential election, and we’re onto the vote.

  8. Taking a look at the United States’ U-20 World Cup roster

    May 29, 2015, 10:23 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu2n2vkmzzjntc5nzcymgzjmzblntg0ztk1zwnkzjq3 AP

    The United States kicks off its U-20 World Cup run with a match against Myanmar at Midnight, and will look to emerge from a relatively winnable group with Ukraine and hosts New Zealand.

  9. Spurs add established 22-year-old Austrian defender from Bundesliga

    May 29, 2015, 9:09 AM EDT

    WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - DECEMBER 20: Kevin De Bruyne (L) of Wolfsburg and Kevin Wimmer of Koeln vie during the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and 1. FC Koeln at Volkswagen Arena on December 20, 2014 in Wolfsburg, Germany.  (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The once-capped Austrian played club ball with LASK Linz in his home country until 2012.

  10. FIFA convention, presidential election resume after bomb threat delay

    May 29, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 29:  A general view as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks during the 65th FIFA Congress at the Hallenstadion on May 29, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Thankfully, the anonymous threat led to nothing, though it’s worth noting the media wasn’t immediately told there was danger.

  11. Reports: Southampton reject $15m bid for Clyne, Liverpool to raise offer

    May 29, 2015, 7:53 AM EDT

    Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton FC Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton FC

    Manchester United is among the other clubs said to be targeting Clyne, but the back is said to prefer Liverpool.

  12. MLS preview: Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas, Revolution vs. Galaxy headline Week 13

    May 29, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT

    Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

    Week 13 of the 2015 MLS season is here! What games are must-watch this weekend?

  13. U-20 World Cup preview: The groups, the favorites, USA outlook and the game’s future stars

    May 28, 2015, 11:13 PM EDT

    Previews - FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 Previews - FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015

    The U-20 World Cup kicks off late Thursday night (US time). Get yourself caught up on what — and who — to watch.

  14. Carlo Ancelotti weighing offer to return to AC Milan

    May 28, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT

    Carlo Ancelotti, AC Milan Getty Images

    Landing Ancelotti would be the best thing AC Milan have done in years.

  15. Gulati: U.S. Soccer will vote for Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein in FIFA election, not Sepp Blatter

    May 28, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer & FIFA ExCo Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer & FIFA ExCo

    Sunil Gulati is putting his not only talking the talk, but walking the walk, with regard to much-needed reform in world soccer.

  16. Men in Blazers podcast: Talking FIFA corruption arrests, Sepp Blatter with Bob Ley

    May 28, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Bob Ley joins the Men in Blazers to talk about the FIFA arrests and decades of corruption inside world football’s governing body.

  17. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Summer transfer needs

    May 28, 2015, 4:56 PM EDT

    Paul Pogba — coming to a Premier League club near you? Paul Pogba — coming to a Premier League club near you?

    With the 2014-15 season in the books, clubs are already busy making moves for next season. Where should each club focus their efforts (and $$$)?

  18. VIDEO: PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 Premier League season

    May 28, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptvjymezzthmmziwodq1mjnmmmzlmdljnmi5ztrlzjky AP

    Going over the highs and lows, the surprises and disappointments, plus much more from the PL season that was, here’s the latest PST Extra.

Featured video

PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 season