AS HE shuffled off down the tunnel, jeering Tottenham supporters glorying in his every painful step, Jack Wilshere would have been hurting mentally more than physically.

He arrived at Cherries last summer intent on proving to the world that – contrary to common wisdom – he was robust enough to survive a full campaign in the cut and thrust of the Premier League.

The 25-year-old was desperately close to accomplishing that goal, only to be struck down in sight of the finishing line – and at the home of Spurs, of all places.

Then if Wilshere’s day hadn’t already been bad enough, well, Alan Shearer stuck the tin hat on it.

In a few acerbic sentences on Match of the Day, the former England striker all but dismissed the player’s time at Dean Court as a failure.

“It hasn’t gone well for him at all,” Shearer concluded. We can’t say whether the BBC pundit has closely studied Wilshere’s form this season, or if he was delivering a superficial view, based on pictures of the midfielder being injured at White Hart Lane – and, admittedly, producing his poorest performance in a long while.

What isn’t in doubt, is that Shearer is the product of a country that has a very odd relationship with its most gifted footballers.

From Stan Bowles, through Shearer’s former Southampton team-mate Matthew Le Tissier, to Ross Barkley today, any number of mercurial stars have been castigated and admired in equal measure.

Heavens, Everton playmaker Barkley’s reward for a consummate display against Leicester nine days ago was to receive a smack in the chops while he relaxed in a Liverpool cocktail bar that same night.

Days later, he was senselessly eviscerated in a national newspaper article.

It is relevant, then, that Wilshere appears to have shed his own knack for finding trouble since he moved to Dorset.

More pertinent still, his football has been good – even if the crudest statistics don’t support that assertion.

Wilshere has been directly involved in only two goals in his 27 Cherries appearances, a fact that is manna for his detractors who have wielded it as a metaphorical stick to beat him with – as Shearer so eagerly demonstrated. “He’s had 22 league starts, no goals, two assists,” observed the ex-Blackburn forward.

Dig a bit deeper, though, and it becomes clear what a force for good the midfielder has been for his loan side.

Wilshere’s first 10 starts for Cherries coincided with the team collecting 17 points. That is some going; rattle along at that rate throughout a 38-game campaign and you will amass 64.6 points – enough to finish sixth in last season’s Premier League.

That success tailed off, of course, and Wilshere recently endured a four-match spell on the bench.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand even claimed his ex-England colleague would have been “embarrassed” with having to make do with a 15-minute cameo as Cherries beat Swansea last month.

Whatever his personal feelings, though, Wilshere’s attitude to his profession remained impeccable. Indeed, his 15 minutes against Swansea represented rich pickings, when set against the five minutes he played as Cherries hosted West Ham the previous week.

Nevertheless, he had used that fun-sized portion of football to help create his team’s winning goal against the London club. Factor in his substitute’s appearance against West Brom in September – a 0-0 draw was converted into a 1-0 victory during his time on the pitch – and Wilshere has helped Cherries hoover up 21 points.

This marriage of convenience, then, has worked for both club and player.

Granted, neither party is likely to spend a whole lot of time pining for the one that got away, should an amicable separation be agreed in the summer.

Eddie Howe was visibly frustrated by Wilshere's determination to get straight off the pitch at Tottenham and recently conceded the loanee might "see his future elsewhere".

But this man of Arsenal has contributed hugely to Cherries' season and he will leave a valuable legacy.

If the club were good enough for Jack Wilshere, after all, then why shouldn't they attract more similarly gifted, high-profile footballers?

For the player's part, there have been enough flashes of genius – allied to a renewed durability – to indicate he could yet scale the heights for which he has long seemed destined.

In order to get there he has been prepared to wear a few scratches to his ego – and he deserves enormous praise for that.

Not the carping of armchair critics.