Injury ruined February for Wilson
There’s no simple way of stating it, so here it is. James Wilson missed most of February through injury. He made just three substitute appearances and really didn’t show up in any of them with games already won against football behemoths such as Brentford, Bristol City and the former big club Leeds United. None of these substitute appearances really allowed Wilson to show anything, of any kind. And it does make you wonder what he’s thinking of the loan spell at this stage?
Is he thinking about a missed opportunity at Manchester United? Had he stayed, would he have had much of an impact on the first team? Would he have been better off training each day with quality players like Anthony Martial, who he presumably has some experience of managing on a popular computer game rather than training with inadequate tosh like Sam Baldock? Would he be gaining more from playing a bit part role for Manchester United than he is playing a bit part role for Brighton in the Championship? When the loan move was arranged, I am sure there was talk of footballing education, or a boy becoming a man and I’m sure there was also a little bit of scaremongering. Remember starting at the Emirates against Arsenal, James? Well, try Rotherham away on a Tuesday night. Decide for yourself where you want your career to end up because there are plenty of examples of talented 18 and 19 year olds who have ended up playing a much lower standard of football than they were really capable of but weren’t able to get their head right and get their attitude and work rate to match their talent.
There remains no question about Wilson’s talent. He is quick with a good touch, blessed with clever movement and a knack of being in the right place at the right time but there are many young players who could say the same. Wilson scored on his debut, but so did Federico Macheda and he now can’t get a game playing alongside Fabio at Cardiff. A lot of players have to leave the biggest clubs in order to make their mark in the game and attempt to work their way back up to the top level. James Wilson is still in a position where he is highly rated and he is expected to progress but he needs to show it on the pitch and he is in danger of not making the type of impact expected and hoped for, at Brighton.
Whilst there is no doubt about his talent, questions have started to be raised about his fitness and his attitude. This is, of course, terrace talk. A player misses a few games with an unspecified injury and talk will turn to speculation about the cause of the absence – it’s the pastime of fans across the country and the world. But if that player then does get a chance to play, but looks shattered after one dribble, different questions are asked. Unfortunately for Wilson, he’s not enjoyed a run in the team here at Brighton and February very quickly became a lost month for him but it doesn’t have to be, instead it can be a month where he asks himself a question; what do I want my career to become?
If he wants to be a success, very few doubt that he will be. Whether that is at the top end of the Premier League playing for Manchester United in front 70,000 fans or playing for a second level Premier League club like Everton or Stoke or even turning out for a smaller club playing in the top flight for a couple of years before inevitable relegation like Crystal Palace, remains to be seen. Or he might become a Federico Macheda, drifting casually away from the game and being quickly forgotten. What Wilson should be telling himself is that Harry Kane wasn’t wanted at Norwich when he went there on loan, and he didn’t make an impact at Leicester either. But he certainly made an impact back at his parent club, and the experience of failure at other clubs can only have spurred him on. James Wilson has the talent, does he have the mentality?