Beware Theo - a good performance is just the beginning

Remember when Arsenal signed Theo Walcott three years ago?

The move was tipped as a triumph for Arsène Wenger and a sign that Le Boss was finally realising that he had to invest in English talent.

We all clamoured to see the wonderboy in action, urging Wenger to bring him on and make a name for himself. Let’s be honest, we half-expected him to announce himself in the way Wayne Rooney did against us a few years earlier at the same age.

But having not been good enough for Arsenal’s starting line-up, it was even more confusing that young Theo was selected for the England squad and then not used by Sven Goran Eriksson.

As far as the media was concerned, his selection coupled with a lack of impact at Arsenal made him a chump.

For those of us who have watched Arsenal At Emirates over the past couple of years, the arrival of Theo from the bench, the sight of him warming up or getting hold of the ball and running down the line always rouses additional expectation and excitement.

Theo has pace that can leave most defenders trailing in his wake.

What many fans and pundits seem to forget is that, while still being such a young player, he also came to the game late and therefore his footballing ‘intelligence’ isn’t always what it could be.

There are those, including one of my fellow Addict correspondents, who believes that if he’s not good enough, we shouldn’t make allowances for him.

There are those who think he should have been farmed out to learn his trade with a smaller Premiership club, or stay in the reserves until he has proved he is well and truly ready.

I believe that the only way he will learn is by working with Wenger day in, day out, and learning what it takes to follow in the footsteps of Nic Anelka and Thierry Henry.

I also think that his development over the past six months has justified Wenger’s patience with him, and underlined the fact that this will be a huge season for him. He still has a lot of work to do – but then so did Cristiano Ronaldo when he first arrived at M*nure and look at him now!

But on a night when there were few performances to get any credit for England, I suspect Theo is in line for a kicking sometime soon from the pundits and media.

Like many self-respecting Gooners, I didn’t bother watching the England game on Saturday nor will I go out of my way to watch the game against Croatia, but I gather that Theo was one of the only players do impress.

But, rest assured, if Theo does not put in a match-winning performance, regardless of the talents of others such as Shrek Rooney, the media will be on his back again, just as they were after the World Cup in 2006.

A couple of indifferent performnces for Arsenal and commentators will do all they can to shatter the confidence that is such an integral part of his game.

Just as an aside though, what irony that David B*ntley warned Theo that staying at Arsenal would hamper his chances of getting game time, let alone making it into the international squad.

Just remind us, B*ntley – who played for England on Saturday and who never got off the bench?