SPORTSDESK COMMENT: Times are changing and FA must adapt

Jack Wilshere has dominated the headlines this week. Firstly the boring furore about him being caught smoking and then he added his thoughts to the Adnan Januzaj for England debate.

By Daniel Gregory
Thursday, 10th October 2013, 4:00 pm
Sports desk comment
Sports desk comment

The first point to make is how ridiculous the whole smoking affair was.

If you took a straw poll of top flight players in the 1980s and 90s, and even now if they were honest, you’d find a lot more smoke than we know.

So what if he had a sly drag, it won’t change how he plays on a Saturday.

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For me this comes back to a national obsession we now have with over-scrutinising everything that modern footballers do or say.

Wilshere has taken some of the heat off the under-fire Joe Hart by adding his thoughts to the debate surrounding whether or not Manchester United youngster Januzaj should be selected to play for England when he becomes eligible in five years.

Firstly, what a ridiculous debate this is.

Januzaj won’t even commit to Manchester United for next season, let alone to playing for our national side in five.

Has the lad even come out and said he would play for us? Then there would be a debate.

If he chose England as his national team of choice, he would need to wait until 2018, when he will be 23.

He is 18 at the moment so he would be giving up some of the best years of his burgeoning career waiting in the wings for the Three Lions.

Is he going to be able to avoid the lure of the rapidly improving Belgians?

Even if he does spurn the advances of Rode Duivels (Red Devils), the Albanians and Turkish are waiting in the wings for the talented winger.

In Albania, there are even entire television shows about him that have been organised to convince him to choose their national team, so good luck getting him to wait five years to suffer the same scrutiny as the likes of Wilshere, Hart & Co.

I’d be all for picking him should he choose us, but I can’t see it happening.

There is a nagging part at the back of my mind that agrees with Wilshere’s comment “the only people who should play for England are English people”, but times are changing and if we want to stand a chance of silverware we need to roll with the times.

If the Germans took the same line of thought they wouldn’t have been able to call upon the likes of Mesut Ozil, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski over recent years.

And it’s not as if we’re guilt-free when it comes to allowing foreigners to masquerade as English.

Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan spring to mind.

And didn’t South African-born Andrew Strauss captain our cricket team?