Manuel Pellegrini questions Unai Emery decision to let Jack Wilshere leave Arsenal for West Ham
Manuel Pellegrini admits he was shocked he was able to sign a player of Jack Wilshere’s calibre on a free transfer this summer.
The 26-year-old had appeared destined to sign a new long-term contract earlier this year and extend his 17-year career at Arsenal having re-established his place in Arsene Wenger’s side following a season-long loan at Bournemouth.
Wenger’s decision to stand down, however, dramatically changed the picture for Wilshere who was told by Unai Emery that he was unlikely to feature prominently in his plans. Wilshere subsequently swapped north for east London and has completed 90 minutes in both of West Ham’s opening two matches this season, ahead of what is destined to be an emotional return to the Emirates on Saturday.
‘I played here three years against Arsenal, and before that with Villarreal in the Champions League,’ said Pellegrini. ‘Jack was always a very good player. I don’t know the reason why he finished his contract with Arsenal. ‘I don’t know why Arsenal allowed him to come here.’ Like Arsenal, West Ham are pointless after two matches so far, leading their former manager Sam Allardyce to claim that a midfield of Wilshere and Mark Noble, ruled out of Saturday’s game through injury, are too slow to cope with the rigours of the Premier League
‘If you need fast players they cannot do it,’ said Pellegrini. ‘But if you need good technical players that do not lose any balls, then they can play together. ‘A lot of you will remember Juventus around four or five years ago, they played with one holding midfielder. It was Pirlo. And Pirlo is the same as Jack. He has the same characteristics as Jack.’
Responding directly to the assessment of Allardyce, Pellegrini added: ‘That is his opinion. I know him and I respect him, and everyone has his opinion. ‘I think that Jack Wilshere must play as Jack Wilshere. He is not a defensive midfielder to hold the line. He is a midfielder more comfortable when he comes out from our side and not receiving the ball back from the other goal. ‘You must leave him to play alone, the play the moment, to receive the ball because he is going to make things happen.’