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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Are Walcott Arsenal critics the same as the Henry Arsenal critics

The year is 1999. Me and my brother are leaving Highbury and queueing to enter Arsenal underground station and the group of fans behind us are talking out loud about Arsenal's new signing Thierry Henry.

I liked this signing from the start - for me Henry was the best possible replacement for the brilliant but unhappy-looking Anelka. I had seen Henry score for Monaco and saw great passion and anger in his celebration - which for me showed that Henry had a fighting character to add to his amazing attacking speed and ball skill. He was a World Cup winner, schooled at Monaco under Wenger and was only 22 years old with his best years definitely ahead of him.

But according to these Arsenal fans behind me Henry was a waste of money and should not have been bought. They did not rate him one bit. I remember this well not only because at the time me and my brother totally disagreed with their judgment on the talent and potential of Henry at Arsenal - but also because I disliked the rush to a wholly negative judgment of a young player that we should be supporting.

Nearly ten years later and I'm reading articles and comments from Arsenal fans criticising 18 year old Theo Walcott similar to the way that a group of Arsenal fans dismissed a 22 year old Thierry Henry. And I wonder are these the same people?

Anyone who dismisses Walcott at aged 18 needs to be reminded of his excellent England Under 21 goals against Germany in October 2006 plus a recent string of scintillating performances for the Under 21's; his ice-cool Carling Cup final goal against Chelsea; his super-sub appearances off the bench against Bolton and Sunderland setting up crucial goals; and a great brace of goals in the Champions League against Slavia Prague.

And most of all anyone dismissing Walcott should be reminded he is only 18 years old and therefore deserves - at least from Arsenal fans - our full support while developing his game and reaching his potential. Resorting to impatient criticism if he doesn't produce in one or two games during this process is not the support I like to see for a young player with excellent talent and a level-head wearing the Arsenal shirt.


Anonymous Ole Gunner said...

I remember he was slaughtered for having no ball control.

1/15/2008 12:04 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Theo but even you have to agree that he hasnt developed as quickly as someone like Bendtner or Denilson despite playing more games.

He is playing out of position on the right though.

1/15/2008 12:08 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theo might be a great player in the future,but at the moment when we have great aspirations to win the title,we cannot afford to play any team in the premiership with ten men,as we did against Birmingham.
My suggestion is that we send him on loan to a club like Derby or Fullham to gain the necessary experience,and next season we will see

1/15/2008 12:27 pm

Anonymous mark said...

bendtner played the whole of last season at birmingham as 1st choice striker so he has played more games in general than theo.
i think it is stupid to get on his back now considering henry was 22 & a fully grown adult when he came to us 4 years older than theo is now & he took time to become what he did. and bendtner is a year older than theo with much more experience internationally & domestically and is only now pushing for a 1st team place. do you want him to be burnt out & injury prone like michael owen has become? or do you want wenger to take his time and mould him into the player he knows he can be?
give the guy a break & stop expecting everything to be instant.
cesc seem's to have been around for ever lol but realistically it is only now at 20 after 4 years of experience, guidance & moulding by wenger that cesc is now playing to his full potential with his added eye for goal to go with better tackling & passing.
also to add to people comparing his developement to bendtners this is nik's fourth year at arsenal.
so keep it in perspective people.

1/15/2008 12:32 pm

Anonymous AusGunner said...

I completely agree. It's fairly absurd.

1/15/2008 12:47 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

in arsene we trust

1/15/2008 1:13 pm

Anonymous gunnerx7 said...

Good article

1/15/2008 1:40 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here, here, I reckon in about 2 or 3 years time, his name will be ringing round the stands not only for Arsenal but England. And after all Arsene knows!!!!!

1/15/2008 2:56 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bendtner or Denilson or Theo are all talents people are looking forward for them ... thought Bendtner or Denilson are not under the pressure Theo has.
Theo is English, one of 2 that Arsenal has. Theo was in the world cup squad. Arsenal paid 12million to get Theo. ..

Bendtner or Denilson, Arsenal paid fraction for them. Also they are not English. Not much pressure on them. Bendtner is already capped on the Danish team. Denilson, still has ways to go through to be in the Brazilian NT.

All these guys are still 18 or 19... still to young.

1/15/2008 2:56 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just on the Bendtner-Walcott debate...Theo actually played nearly all of Southhampton's Championship games before joining Arsenal, hence Wengers decision not to play him at all for the remainder of the season.
Walcott actually started playing regular league football 2 years BEFORE Bendtner. I dont think its unreasonable to compare their respective progress.

I dont think loaning him out would be the answer either, it will decimate his already fragile confidence to farm him out when we are chasing four trophies.

We just have to accept poor performances and Arsenal fans have seen lots of youngsters who have performed poorly to become Arsenal legends. From Pat Rice to Tony Adams, from Henry to Toure and not forgetting the best of them all Gus Caesar...who I maintain wasnt given enough opportunites to win over the Arsenal fans :-)

1/15/2008 3:06 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

I have my doubts about Theo.

1/15/2008 7:14 pm

Anonymous GunnerPete said...

Well done T, again you have highlighted how two faced supporters are, especially the new gunners. With Theo I think if he had come from our stiffs the same doubters would be saying what a star he will be. The feeI understand has never been 312 mill infact its rumoured that it was £4.5 mill with chances of eventually rising to £12 mill based on Goals/Games & Internationals.Denilson cost £4 mill.

My feeling is also that Arsene has made a few blunders with players out of position ( who am I to complain?) ie; Diaby should always play centre midfield or rightsided NOT left. Moves stutter to a halt when a player of such skill with his right foot has to turn back inside to cross a ball or shoot. The same with Theo..he is no winger. He is a natural pacey centre forward / inside forward, and showed that in the final last year & the match against Spuds last week.

Its a waste of time to urge the moaners to give him support rather than showing descent but right now the whole team need more support.

I know Im regarded as a Rose Tinted Gunner by family & friends, but I see parralels with the Busby Babes and this current AFC first team & reserve squad and that is some team to live up to.

1/16/2008 9:56 am

Anonymous GunnerPete said...

I think I meant £12 mill not 312 mill, sorry.

1/16/2008 9:57 am

Blogger alex butterfield said...

I agree that loaning Walcott is a mistake. Arsenal are in 4 competitions and a large squad is needed. Even if Walcott is viewed as 3rd or 4th choice striker, you need 4 strikers if you are in 4 competitions.

And he is versatile, doubling as a winger.

But gunnerpete, arguing about the cost of Walcott is mute. If the fee can rise to 12m then he cost 12m, as he is going to play enough games, undoubtedly.

I must admit, I am a doubter, and while I'm not an Arsenal fan, I am an England fan, and I'd love to see Walcott be the best striker ever, but I don't see it yet. It is very rare that he looks like he has any idea of what to do with the ball. He puts his head down and runs. Your original comparison to Henry may come true, but right now, I think Milan Baros is a better one.

1/17/2008 9:32 pm

Anonymous GunnerPete said...

sorry Alex you are wrong. The £12 mill will only be paid if Walcott ever reaches the 'games/goals/internationals listed as the targets needed to release payments up to that sum.

This target is probably expected to be reached within a certain number of years. If Walcott does not reach these targets within the time stated he will be sold and he will only have cost the £5 mill + part payments acheived.

I still believe that AW is playing the Walcott card wrongly (who am I to doubt the messiah). I genuinly think he should start every game up front with a big partner AND a small playmaker who can see his runs. At present we have Fabs & Hleb who tend to make room for others more than the killing through pass. The Eduado pass against Spuds is ideal for TW, as it is for M.Owen (when he gets one nowdays) so lets get behing him and only critisise when he lets us down.

1/20/2008 11:55 am

Blogger alex butterfield said...

Okay, I admit Walcott may end up only costing 5m - but only if he's a complete flop - in which case 5m is a waste.

If he succeeds and he's already started to (he's got appearances, goals and at least 1 international cap) then the fee will eventually rise to the full 12m.

Maybe it is the case, as you suggest, that all that has to happen before a certain date, but I've never heard of such clauses before. They tend to be subject to happening within the players career at that club - if Arsenal sold Walcott then the new club would not be committed to the clauses of the previous transfer. I wonder why clubs keep these contract clauses quiet. I'd be interested to know the full and actual details of transfers - if the FA insisted on these details being made available by the freedom of information act or whatever, then it might help to keep transfers more open and avoid under the table deals.

(I wonder if a team could fiddle a deal like Arsenal/Walcott's, by selling and buying back a player? It's pretty dodgy, and you'd never do a deal with Southampton again, but I wonder if that is legally possible.)

1/21/2008 7:24 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Ahh...a happy new year to you all...late...and very belated!!

Well...I think it's hard - teh whole team is under pressure to perform, and to keep in the title race. Losing to Middlesborough was the worst I think, even worse than to Spurs!! Had we kept our spirits and our confidence, we'd probably feel a little more relaxed, and play some better football overall. To be fair, we have to look at the senior players for guidance, rather than look to youngsters for inspiration or the solution.

vs. Newcastle, Cesc was back to being better, Flamini also, and Clichy really solid as Eduardo getting into more of a team rythmn. Senderos did as well as he can (for once in a long while). This was a platform for the Diaby, Walcott, Hoyte to show what they could do. Rosicky hobbling off meant that Theo could not do his thing in the centre, and Bentdner could not come on for Walcott or Adebayour later in the game - probably Arsene's plan.

It's a testament to Newcastle that they had some chances in the first half, but what we have to focus on is the difference between Arsenal patience...and the directness of Man U - 6 past Newcastle?!? With Ronanldo on such good form, and Rooney, they are key figures to depend upon each match - where are those players at Arsenal? Maybe Adebayour and Cesc - maybe only I think. So the point is that as a fan, we can only enjoy the development of the team, and hope for the best, without complete and utter confidence - something that ManU fans probably have more of.

My personal view of Theo is that he's still in a good developmental team - he just needs to SHOOT a little more and he'll be a bit more C Ronaldo!

1/29/2008 7:05 am


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