Jack Wilshere went to Bolton a boy and returned to Arsenal a man, says Owen Coyle
Published 22:50 09/09/10 By Alan Nixon
Jack Wilshere went to Bolton as a boy - and was sent back to Arsenal as a man in every way.
The young Gunner was a rookie when Owen Coyle and Wanderers took him under the wing but by the end of his loan spell he had grown into a player ready for the first team and his country.
Wilshere emerged in a big way and in a hurry as he graduated with honours as a Premier League player and Coyle is pleased to have been key to that process even if he may count the cost tomorrow.
Coyle said: “Jack is such a talented player, he improved by leaps and bounds here. It doesn’t surprise me that he is involved now, he really took his game on when he came here.
“We like to think we played a part but ultimately that was down to Jack with the ability he has got. People talked about his promise, but here he showed he could play.
“Some of the senior pros took it on and thought he needed looking after because he was 18, but he could look after himself. However he really did blossom as a player and a person.
“Maybe he was a bit immature when he came here but when he left he was a real man. He has gone on to show that, but hopefully he doesn’t play too well against us.”
Wilshere can expect a lot of warm handshakes and hugs from his old Bolton mates tomorrow - and a few hefty whacks. He made a huge impression on Wanderers during a loan spell that helped them beat the drop and he is close to some.
Coyle said: “Jack became good friends with Paul Robinson during his time here. It spoke volumes when he came round to our hotel before the West Ham game to say hello to the lads. That shows how well he got on with them all.”
Wilshere and Coyle are also close and if his Arsenal career ever stalls the Bolton boss will be back on the phone. But he is the first to admit the rise in his fortunes was down to the player.
Coyle said: “I used to give him advice, but I speak that quickly that he probably didn’t get it. The one thing I always told him was to show the whole world and go out and express himself.
“There were things he had to learn, like working within the team shape and how to play against the ball. But I never had a problem with him making a mistake if he was trying to win a game for you.
“He was a breath of fresh air. He was so brave in training too, always taking knocks because he would take that ball up to you and try to take it away.
“We will try to counter his threat and he knows he will be facing a team fired up to do that. I won’t be stopping any of my lads being competitive with him - he realises that.”
Coyle finds it hard to hide his admiration for Arsenal and put a spat with Arsene Wenger behind him as he prepares for the test. The pair rowed when the Bolton boss wanted William Gallas sent off for ‘topping’ Mark Davies.
The fiery Glaswegian had angry words with Wenger and slammed Gallas’s foul. He added: “I said my piece as I always do. My responsibility is to look after Bolton Wanderers.
“If it means sometimes people are not happy with that, then that’s the nature of the game. People say things about Bolton and I understand that. I expect other managers to understand that’s the way it goes too.
“However for me, as a manager, the way Arsenal go about it as a football club and their style of play is the model of how I would love to develop a club.
“Arsenal are the best at the pass-and-move football in Britain. They are formidable when they are at the top of their game. It epitomises everything I love.”