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.