When the day came for Jack Wilshere to leave Arsenal, I thought I’d be sadder.
Here was a player who really was ‘one of our own’ and although injuries disrupted his career, there was no denying the excitement we all felt when he broke through into the Arsenal first team.
Wilshere has been at Arsenal since 2001 but in that time has produced perhaps only three never-to-be-forgotten moments.
There was his performance against Barcelona when he was still just a kid, his part in ‘that’ goal against Norwich, and his cheerleading after Arsenal won the FA Cup, asking thousands of Arsenal fans what they thought of Tottenham.
The goal against Norwich was five years ago, however. The game against Barca, five. As for the chant about Tottenham, that won’t help Arsenal win football matches, as much as I wished it would.
When the dust settles and we are able to look back at Jack’s time at the club with more detachment, we will see a tale of disappointment. It’s hard not to wonder what sort of player he would have turned into had he not had ankles made of glass, but we can say that about so many players that came through at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.
Well, maybe a few more at least.
I think I made my peace with Wilshere leaving when he went to Bournemouth for a year. It has been a prolonged breakup and one that has certainly eased the pain of losing a player who is Arsenal-through-and-though.
But the morning after always brings a new light to things and it’s hard to deny that the time is right for Wilshere to move on. Although he enjoyed an injury-free season last time out, he delivered little on the pitch to suggest Arsenal are losing anything other than a mid-table midfielder.
That’s not to slight Jack, to be still playing at that level despite his problems speaks to a remarkable fortitude. But fortitude in the face of personal adversity does not tend to win you football matches and I doubt you will find many people who think Unai Emery should have offered Wilshere the starting role he so desperately craves.
We will all move on, the relationship over by mutual agreement. Yes, we will pine for him at times – when he scores or assists for his new club or trolls Tottenham on Twitter – but we know that this is the best result for all involved. That will make it easier.
And isn’t it nice to have a player leave without any bad blood? Jack isn’t the first, of course. Olivier Giroud is still seen by many as an Arsenal player despite turning out for Antonio Conte and there are a host of players Arsenal fans wish well at other clubs. But in an age of outrage, it’s nice to see him being wished well.
What else would you wish one of your own?