Date:Monday August 21 2006
Arsene Wenger has spoken out against those who have critisised Theo Walcott after he made England's world cup squad despite not even playing a league game since signing for the Gunners.
Eriksson stunned the world when he chose to take the youngster to Germany ahead of the likes of Darren Bent & Jermain Defoe, and Walcott has suffered some serious abuse ever since.
It was obvious to anyone with half a brain that Walcott hadn't earnt his place in the squad, but it should have been even more obvious to someone with even less brain than the first lot that none of this was Theo's choice and it's not as if he was going to knock back the chance to gain valuable experience just because a few people had a gripe with the decision.
Neverhteless it still hasn't stopped the media and rival fans alike having a pop at the player, but now, Wenger has spoken out against the minless fools who chose to slate the 'pickee' rather than the 'picker'.
'I think the criticisms he has been given have been harsh,' said Wenger.
'It's a lot of pressure for a very young man to deal with. I can accept players being criticised if they play badly but to criticise them when they don't even play is harsh. He's very young but people want him to be a star in England.
'I never said he should definitely go to the World Cup, I just said that I would be happy if he did go. Was he ready? He is playing against Aston Villa and that is no harder than playing against Costa Rica or Ecuador or a side like that. Sven [Goran Eriksson] decided to take him and then he didn't decide to play him. That's an issue for him and not for me. Theo shouldn't be criticised for that. He will also get much better. He's a very good listener.'
Walcott went some way to silencing his critics with an excellent first 17 minutes of his Arsenal career against Aston Villa last Saturday.
Date:Monday August 21 2006
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Audio: Wenger Backs Winter World Cup (Wednesday February 25 2015)
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