Jack Wilshere is an interesting case study. A highly promising English midfielder who has had his progression halted for a number of reasons, some that he can't help and some that he can.
He may be one of the most criticised English players at the moment, with Paul Scholes, Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Savage saying he lacks form among other things. Scholes accused Wilshere of not taking the next step in his career after bursting onto the scene in 2008.
In the off-season, Wilshere was caught smoking in Las Vegas. Everyone is entitled to relax and unwind, but I can't help but feel he came in for warranted criticism in regards to that incident, especially considering it's the second time he has been caught.
When you put that into context, he has started this season very sluggishly, looking off the pace and at times a passenger, which prompted Jamie Redknapp to say the following:
"Jack Wilshere's problem is Jack Wilshere," Redknapp had said. "He's not performing. He's got to take games by the scruff of the neck like two years ago. There are no excuses for this young lad any more."
I don't think this is a foreign concept to Jack, no player wants to be seen as a disappointment and I can't help but pull for the guy. Not only because a healthy Wilshere is good news for the England national team but because this guy has struggled with injuries and as he mentioned in his recent interview, it takes a lot of mental strength to keep coming back from these knock-backs.
"I went on holiday and enjoyed it but as soon as I came back to pre-season training I said I'd be fit and I have been. It is an important season for me not just for my country but for my club. I've had a good pre-season, the first time in three or four years where I've managed to do every single session. I've stayed away from injury, trained here every day. I'm fit and in the gym. It's a big season for me. There's no point in me saying: ‘I've got another year to develop.' I'm 22 now. Look at Germany. Mario Götze has won the World Cup and he's my age. It is time to deliver."
Saying all that, I thought he looked quite good in the first half against Norway on Wednesday. He looked tidy on the ball and the more he plays with Jordan Henderson the better their understanding will become. The partnership definitely looked promising with both players having the ability to be box-to-box midfielders, playing intricate through balls to the likes of Sturridge and Sterling.
So far this season he has only made two appearances in the premier league and has yet to score or get an assist with Welsh midfield Partner Aaron Ramsey taking the headlines. He is only 22, but it's now time to perform and this season may be the most important one in Jack's career, lets hope he fights through the criticism and answers back in the right way, and that's on the field.
PS - Please stop smoking, doing stupid things like that make you an easy target. Time to grow up!