Jack Wilshere kept clips during his playing days. Its pages are filled with nuggets, mined on the way from the Arsenal academy to the Arsenal dugout via Bolton, Bournemouth, West Ham and Denmark.
The 31-year-old was jotting down excerpts from the conversations. How do managers behave? All of this has come in handy over the last nine months, since Wilshere took charge of Arsenal’s under-18s. Unfortunately, there was one gap in his research.
“The coaching aspect, when I first came along, that was the big thing for me,” Wilshere explains. “Trying to find a way to play against teams, trying to develop the individual.”
but? It was clearly a different world I was entering. Corporate world, all emails! I was like: “What’s going on here?”
That late introduction to life management forced Wilshere to rethink his routine. “But now I’ve sorted it out,” says the 31-year-old. “You have organized my day better.”
Jack Wilshere enjoyed his role as Arsenal Under-18s manager throughout the season
Arsenal’s academy team will face Man City in the FA Youth Cup semi-final on Tuesday
So he can focus on his team and its training. They’re two steps away from the silverware already.
In the Emirates on Tuesday, Arsenal face Manchester City in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup. A proxy war ahead of the battle for supremacy over the English Premier League.
It brought me back a true, deep love for football. And I didn’t know I’d lost it, to be honest,” Wilshere says of this first step in management.
I came back here last year – I’ve been training a little, training a little. Then I had a decision to make. He was a free agent with offers from all over Europe. He chose Aarhus in Denmark before retiring at the age of 30 after just five months.
“I loved it — the country, the people — but I didn’t like it very much,” Wilshere says. “I didn’t know that.” Not until this new chapter has begun.
Wilshere, who first joined Arsenal at the age of nine, won the Youth Cup in 2009. He then became one of 86 youngsters to graduate since 2000 to the first team. Now, his mission is to guide the next generation down the same path.
“There are good enough players,” he says. “Then it’s up to them when they stand up to the manager (Mikel Arteta) and come down to me to give them what they need.”
Wilshere is often asked: What is my way? His answer is simple: ‘Every time we’re there, whether we act like Leeds or Sporting, you’re in front of the manager. There’s your way. There’s your chance.’
It helps Wilshere, Academy President Per Mertesacker, and their players see Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah climb the higher rungs of that ladder in real time.
The retired star claimed the training brought back his ‘deep, true love for football’
Wilshere made 125 appearances for the Arsenal first team, scoring seven goals during that period
“What a role model,” he says. You can’t ask for better than that. B will come and talk to the young players. Before the last match he sent us a video.
“It’s amazing and inspiring for the kids,” he adds.
Wilshere was Arsenal’s youngest player ever at the age of 16 years and 256 days, playing against Blackburn in 2008. Earlier this season, Ethan Nwanyeri, then aged 15, broke that record.
“It’s a balance, of course, because not all players will play in Arsenal’s first team,” Wilshere says. “We play from behind and we want our full-back to be (Alexander) Zinchenko.
“But we also try to have that balance to say: our full-back may not play for Arsenal.”
“This club has a tradition of bringing in, developing and trusting young players,” adds Wilshere. but?
“What makes my job even more difficult is that the A team keeps leveling up… (so) we have to keep leveling up too, otherwise who will be the next B or Em?”
It was a lesson learned looking for Cesc Fàbregas. When he debuted I was 12 years old and thinking: “Wow! This is the level I need to get to. And I need to be better than him, because when I’m 16 it’s only going to be 20.”
Wilshere was quick to heap praise on his former midfield partner, Cesc Fàbregas
All of these shared experiences are important in a job where, Wilshere believes, “You have to know the person before the player.”
He explains, “I think about the bad experiences I’ve had with the coaches, and maybe the biggest thing was that they weren’t able to connect with the players… If I don’t have contact with one individual, I really feel it.”
It can’t hurt that Wilshere is still only 31 years old. “Maybe being a parent helps, too,” he says. “My kids are closer to my players, so I can see what they need and want.”
But this will not prevent him from learning. He is a member of the FA’s ‘International Player in Training’ programme. Soon he will visit Belgium to study Lommel coach Steve Bould, former Arsenal defender and manager of Wilshere in 2009.
“The other day, I did a mock interview with a head coach with a few old head coaches,” he adds.
Wilshere also has, on the day before a match, a habit of watching Arteta’s preparations. “He made a huge impact on me.”
Wilshere’s young side will go to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night to face City
They were teammates under Arsene Wenger. Wilshere described Arteta as a “teacher’s pet”. They remain different personalities. But Arteta’s methods flow downhill.
“He’s a really smart coach, but he also knows how to motivate people,” Wilshere says. Often in unconventional ways, too.
“I did some weird things that I won’t tell you!” He laughs.
When I was coming there wasn’t really that aspect of training – Arsene didn’t bring a light bulb or play music before the game – but part of me feels he’s a genius. With this generation, with Instagram, they are looking for motivational videos and stuff to motivate them all the time. I think it works.
So before matches, Wilshere will dip into his trick box. “Some of them worked, some of them didn’t!” He says.
When you have a connection with your players like Mikel – and you can see he really cares – your players are into that and will do anything you really want.
The former Arsenal midfielder reflected on Arsene Wenger’s management tactics (right)
Wilshere praises Arsenal first team coach Mikel Arteta as a ‘genius’
You can ask them to build with three in the back or four in the back, but it goes deeper than that.
He adds, “The best learning about me and my coaching style is the day-to-day dealings, on the pitch, having little conversations with the players, seeing what works for me… seeing what the player needs.”
So what did you learn? “I don’t think the day of the hair dryer is over,” says Wilshere. But sometimes, like when Arsenal were 2-0 down against Watford in this Youth Cup run, it helps to be positive.
“Arsene was very good at it, and I was probably a little bit swayed by it,” Wilshere says.
There were only a few occasions I saw him lose, and it was true. not with me!’
The 31-year-old began his coaching armbands while still an active Arsenal player, before retiring.
He adds: ‘This is what interests me in training. Tactically, things start to take hold. but? “Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking care of and doing the basics right.”
Sometimes it’s just about taking the lead. Wilshere began his coaching armbands while still an Arsenal player.
“I only did it because Peer was offered the position of director of the academy, but he needed a B and A (license) to get it,” he recalled.
“I was in the bomb squad.” Wilshere was not playing. He was told he could leave. Instead, he decided: “I’ll do it with you, Bear…but I’ve never really had that much interest.” Now back to the future.