How do you solve a problem like little Theo?
Theo Walcott. The man with everything you need to be one of the best in the Premier League, if not the world. Pace that wouldn’t be out of place at the Olympics, a low centre of gravity and playing in a team where creative expression is not only encouraged but is the law.
So why can’t little Theo perform?
Today he came on for 45+ minutes in the Emirates Cup, having had the summer off and time to gather his thoughts after missing out on a shot at World Cup glory – surely Theo would be champing at the bit to run rings around the aging Rossoneri rearguard?
Against a team who are two weeks behind Arsenal in pre-season, little Theo duly did what he does best. Disappoint.
Time and time again little Theo got the ball and ran at pace into space, leaving Milan players in his wake. His first run got him to the byline and produced a pass of some sort to the on coming Arshavin, who couldn’t quite get in front of his defender to put it away.
But that was it. His final ball, and indeed any pass that he made, was bumpy, rough and just not crisp enough on a pitch that surely has no equals in terms of quality, in the world. So why can’t little Theo pass? Why does he fail to light up a game, time and time again?
But what about Barcelona in the Champions League? He single handedly dragged Arsenal level, I hear you say. What about that night in Croatia, when he scored a hat-trick. Well, therein lies what Theo is really good at: not thinking. In both those games, Theo was put through with nothing much to think about other than hitting the ball from an angle to the opposite angle; no defenders, no other options but to strike the ball at goal. A case of the Darren Bent’s I call it. If he doesn’t have to think, he can look half decent.
But why? Why can’t he be composed, why doesn’t he look comfortable when he steps onto a football pitch?
Because he is an athlete in a footballer’s job.
As with most players that have been discovered in the UK during the last 10 years, Theo is a victim of the Pace and Power™ school of talent scouting. The: “We can teach him how to play football later, he’s quick as hell” type of scouting that is one of the reasons why Spanish, Italian, French and German youngsters are much more comfortable with a football at their feet.
Will he learn how to play football? Will he pay back the faith Mr Wenger and three England managers have put in him over the years? Not to mention the small matter of his £10 million transfer fee.
I doubt it.