ARSENAL and England midfielder Jack Wilshere has revealed that a broadside from Paul Scholes prompted him to reassess his career. It was back in March that Scholes, appearing as a guest in the Sky Sports studio, let rip at Arsenal after their 2-2 draw with Swansea. At the time the Gunners were going through a disastrous spell, a slump in form that effectively ended their title hopes, and Scholes blasted: "They capitulated at Chelsea and it seems to be a similar theme that happens when they play the top teams. For one reason or another players go missing... it seems like they go on the pitch with no discipline."
Though he damned several Arsenal players by name, Scholes singled out Wilshere for particular criticism, saying: "Jack Wilshere came on the scene and looked a top young player but he has never really gone on. He needs the characters like Vieira next to him to take him to the next level. He doesn't look any better player now than he did when he was 17."
Wilshere hadn't actually been involved in the Swansea encounter, absent with a foot injury that has kept him out of action since the early spring. But he disclosed on Wednesday that he was sitting at home watching Sky Sports when Scholes went on the attack. "It was a bit strange, out of the blue," said Wilshere, who was named earlier this week in the England World Cup squad for Brazil. "I remember watching it, he was having a go at Arsenal, and I was thinking: 'Is he going to come for me?'"
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The criticism hurt Wilshere but rather than take to Twitter in retaliation – increasingly the norm in modern sport – the Arsenal playmaker adopted a different approach. "For the next few days after he said that, I sat down and talked to my dad and a few of the coaches here," explained Wilshere.
Realising that perhaps Scholes had a point, Wilshere got his number from Gary Neville via Twitter and called the former Manchester United star for a heart to heart. "If it had come from a rubbish player I could say: 'What are you talking about?' but it came from Paul Scholes, so I wanted to get to the bottom of it," explained Wilshere. "I spoke to him, he explained it a bit better and told me what he thought I should work on."
As a result of the conversation with Scholes, the 22-year-old Wilshere says he realises he needs to shed his 'promising youngster' tag. "There comes a time when you stop being a kid and I think that's what he's referring to. [People say] 'He's young, he's got all this potential' but you have to start fulfilling that potential," said Wilshere. "This season, I have improved a lot, scored a few more than I have in the past and got a few more assists. That side of things. You can keep the ball and you can look good but it's those stats that matter. That's what I have to build on."
Wilshere made his first appearance for Arsenal in two months from the bench in Sunday's win at Norwich, and the midfielder will feature in some capacity in Saturday's FA Cup final against Hull. The Gunners are the strong favourites to lift the cup, but Wilshere recalls that they went into the 2011 Carling [league] cup final against Birmingham with a similar status, only to come a cropper. "We've been here before in the Carling Cup. No disrespect but this is bigger than the Carling Cup," said Wilshere. "We just have to win it."
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