When Arsène Wenger signed Theo Walcott three years ago, he was hailed as the next English wonderkid, a quick fix by the Frenchman to make up for the lack of English talent in his squad.
There was plenty of excitement that young Theo chose Arsenal over Ch*vski and others, but curiosity that he got so little playing time when he first arrived.
I’m not quite sure what Sven Goran-Eriksson was thinking when he took Theo to the World Cup in 2006 – and his inclusion in the squad seemed to be an albatross around his neck – but who would turn down the chance to go, if only for the experience? It's as if some fans blamed Theo for England's demise.
As I’ve said before on Addict, there is always a sense of expectation and excitement whenever Theo gets on or gets the ball – us Gooners are far more patient with him than we would be with others, willing him to do well not only for the team’s sake, but also because of the stick he took post WC2006.
When Wenger has promised that Theo WILL deliver, there have been doubters – and the Arsene Knows Brigade (AKBs) have been derided for their faith in Le Boss.
I’ve always believed in Theo, but it’s hard to defend him sometimes when he goes missing in games, makes the wrong decisions or fluffs easy chances. Let's not forget though that even Bobby Pires and Marc Overmars had their fair share of quiet games in Arsenal colours.
Some say “But he’s only 19!” and I agree…and others, that Shrek Rooney was far more accomplished at a far younger age or that he shouldn’t be in the first team if he’s not good enough for Arsenal yet.
There’s been plenty of discussion here about Theo in recent weeks. That goal against Ch*vski in the Carling Cup final was some announcement of his ability and the runs against AC Milan and Liverpool last season will stick in the memory.
Of course, he’s got to start showing it on a consistent basis for the Gunners before we can start to believe that he is the player we thought he would be when we bought him.
But for now, let’s savour the moment.
Wenger proudly proclaimed that this year, some of our younger players would step up – and Theo’s start to the season hasn’t been a bad one at all.
We all get frustrated with what the manager does sometimes – that’s what being a fan is about – but however indifferent I am about England’s results, isn’t it nice that one of our boys has grabbed the headlines this morning?
If it hadn’t been for Wenger’s tireless work with him, patience when some of us doubted his potential for anything more than running fast in straight lines, we might not be basking today in the knowledge that one of Europe’s hottest young talents is a Gooner.
Arsène knows? Of course he does, and don’t let anyone tell you different!