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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

In Crisis, Opportunity

Theo Walcott will undoubtedly be a very disappointed young man today. Much has been written about how supportive a family unit he has (I see his brother, his dad and his girlfriend sitting in amongst the supporters at every away match bar none) and he will doubtless be blanketing himself in their support once again. It marks a fascinating dichotomy that four years ago Walcott was the shock inclusion; this time around he is the headline exclusion. Such has been life in the fledgling career of Theo Walcott, everything he does creates headlines which is unusual for one so mild mannered.

But whilst Walcott may be wallowing in melancholy this evening, I hope he sees this blow to his personal pride as a challenge. That`s what separates good footballers from great footballers, mentality. That`s why Zinedine Zidane`s name will echo in the annals of football history, whilst the names Gascoigne and Ronaldinho will be footnotes for what might have been had they concentrated on their skills as opposed to more Bacchalian pursuits. Walcott is a player that still has his flaws and despite his tender years, it feels like we have been waiting for him to explode. We thought the sixty yard run at Anfield might be the catalyst, some felt the hat trick in Zagreb would light the blue touch paper- I thought for a moment the substitute appearance against Barcelona at home, where he transformed the game, might be the making of him. Yet these seemingly epoch making moments have only ever transpired to be flashes of lightning in a summer night sky. However, you get the feeling that definitely, this time, how Theo reacts to this rejection will be the making or breaking of the young man.

Walcott will experience something very rare and alien to him this summer, though the focus of attention may be on him for the next 24-48 hours, once the players board the plane to South Africa, he will be out of the spotlight, forced to look on from the shadows like Mersault on his doorstep. This reflective time out of the spotlight could do Theo the power of good for a number of reasons. Firstly, he might have to negotiate the anger phase. It is here he might consider how his manager warned him not to take part in a stupid U-21 tournament last summer. England committed the ridiculous folly of selecting him for two summer qualifiers for the full side and then for a meaningless junior tournament. Wenger presciently warned: "'I don't want to stop Theo from playing for the Under-21s, but during the holiday period, they should choose one or the other. I have let them know that it is not logical that he plays for the first team and the Under-21s during the holiday period, they finish on June 28 and we start training on July 6. Of course he wants to play, and I can understand that as well.'

Wenger phoned Walcott twice advising him not to play for both sides, after a long season with Arsenal, playing a full schedule of matches for two different teams during the summer break a year before a World Cup was always going to be a stupid idea. The ramifications on Walcott`s fitness would be obvious and so it proved, Theo never really got into his stride after a procession of niggling injuries. The great irony is, after years of Wenger being xenophobically derided for not doing enough to develop English talent, it was the England team themselves that destroyed the form and fitness of their own player. It has been the media that has most rabidly tried to diminish the player they hyped up to pathetically unrealistic expectations that has torn apart his every move in an England shirt, whilst other players apparently not rated (Heskey, Carrick, Barry) are not pored over with quite the same delightful zeal, the same sense that the whole nation is willing them to fail. Walcott might consider now that he`s been playing to wrong crowd, I hope in future he listens to Wenger and tries to please the paymaster. Wenger`s tutelage of young players is peerless and Walcott would do well to follow his words, in trying to please everybody in life, you often please no-one. Listen to Arsene first Theo and the rest will come along.

That said, I happen to think the decision to leave Walcott out is the wrong one from England`s point of view. There`s no doubting that he can be a frustratingly inconsistent player, but I fail to see what Wright Phillips and Lennon have ever done on the big stage to suggest they could set South Africa alight. Lennon is a good player who can cut your average clogger from Bolton or Hull City to ribbons. But Walcott has a history of big game contributions- Barcelona, Liverpool in Europe, A,C. Milan, Chelsea at Wembley and in Cardiff as well as Zagreb. Lennon does not have that kind of decoration on his CV yet. At the very least Walcott is your ideal impact sub, if England are losing to Germany with ten minutes to go of a World Cup Quarter Final and you need to change the game, would you look to Wright Phillips or Walcott? We know Wright Phillips is average, we know Theo is inconsistent, but who is more likely to dash past three defenders in the last minute and save the game? That said, Capello is one of the world`s best coaches and I believe his choices deserve respect- even if I would have taken Walcott myself.

But England`s loss can be Arsenal`s gain. With the summer off, Walcott can come back fresh and raring to go next season, sans the physical and mental fatigue, away from the bitching of England`s hysterical support and hopefully with a fresh outlook and a healthier body. The setback should be used as fuel to succeed and prove himself, to work on his flaws away from the oppressive spotlight. To this end, it is easy to forget that Samir Nasri suffered a similar disgruntlement as Raymond Domenech shunned him for the French squad. Nasri too is a player who began the season with injury and who frustrated with the impression that he was capable of greater consistency to match his devastating skill set. Nasri too has the same motivations and frustrations and opportunities for reflection as Walcott. From Arsenal`s point of view, this means that two of Arsenal`s most used attacking weapons will spend the summer with their feet up and the minds burning with injustice. Nasri and Walcott are both of an age where opportunity will knock once more.Neither will even be in their prime by the time of the 2014 World Cup. Ally this to the fact that Arshavin, Eduardo and Rosicky`s respective countries aren`t South Africa bound and Arsenal should have a very fresh attack when we kick the season off in August. The best thing we can do is show our support to the likes of Nasri and Walcott come August and hope that their frustrations bear the fruits and sow the seeds of our delight.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday June 1 2010

Time: 9:26PM

Your Comments

I think Walcott was hard done by, and whereas last time he was lucky to go, this time I think he deserved his place. He appears to have been the scapegoat for two pretty poor team performances in the warm-ups. But then again the handling of all players, selections for these 'trial' games, not playing Dawson or Parker was all the fault of our Sainted Manager who can do no wrong. We'll see.
lordjohnny
Have got to wonder whether Fab has any idea of what he has done. Theo can win a game with one piece of class. Heskey could play every minute for a week and do nothing overly interesting. Parker is another that would have been in my squad.The way the team has played lately it needs someone like him to give it some drive. Gerard has been off key for a while now and a lot is now banked on Barry recovering. Will we never learn.
SFC Forever
For my own selfish reasons, I was hoping this would happen because it just might be the kick up the rear Theo needs.
gunnerkid107
It would always be a hard for an Italian manager broght up on Italian football to trust someone as young as Theo. The chosen squad with an average age of 29 would always make Capello feel more comfortable. It can often work in knockout competitions that the team that makes fewest mistakes can achieve most even if it does have fewest surprises. Its a disappointment for Theo but if instead of trying to impress the selectors last summer he had concentrated on playing well for his club side he would have increased his chances of impressing them more. The more he can focus on that objective next season the more chance he has of achieving any other career goals he might set himself.
Amos.
I have to say as a spurs fan, first class article, nothing suprised me today with the squad, apart from not taking Theo over S W-P. Give it 5 games tops and they will all be home...
spu 4 life
I think it is big mistake by Capello, whatever you think about Walcott his impact as a late substitution is one of the best around. Personally I am big Theo fan but I don't he warranted a place in the starting XI based on his recent form and Capello might believe that in Lennon he has a carbon copy of Theo with more experience at international level, so I can understand trying to utilise the limited number of squad places but I Walcott offers a lot more explosiveness from the bench than both Lennon Wright-Phillips. And when in form Joe Cole should be dead-set starter for England but what has he done this season to merit a place. And don't even get me started on Heskey... but as you point out LD this could motivate Theo to become a better player a bit like the "no footballing brain" comment did for a while.
gronedrone
There are too many inconsistencies in Capello's squad selection. He said he wouldn't pick crocks and he has, he has picked a woefully out of form Upson ahead of the most in form Central defender in the 30 Dawson, He has picked Carragher who helped England Qualify by...........Adam Johnson really impressed for City the last half of the season keeping Dead Wright Philips out of the side yet the latter is selected to go to a world cup ahead of him? Matthew Etherington and Ashley Young had better seasons than SWP but he seems like a good pal of a lot of the players, a nice guy to have around the sqaud........
iceman10
Walcott has remained a one trick pony. Lennon can gallop just as quickly, but can at least deliver a better final ball. Walcott could just as easily play rugby, as he knows as much about football technique as he does rugby!
mutters
Cherundulo/Spector are probably crying tears of joy.
sunaadh
^^ Yes but that is one badass mutha*****in pony.
sunaadh
It seems Capello has picked players with the most experience at international level hence SWP, Heskey, Carragher, Upson. Which completely rubbishes the idea that he was picking the players who playing the best. So players like Huddlestone, Dawson, Adam Johnson, and Bent efforts have been in vain.
gronedrone
not here to cause hassel, but come on he did not deserve to go, even after 2 poor games to prove himself he didnt take the oppertunity , capellio had hes team picked no mater what so im not biased, theo could not get a regualar starting place in arsenal team, but hes still young an maybe for the future, as lennon back up ;)
123spurs
fair point gronedrone seems like that it seems after picking upson an jamie C
123spurs
He is young, I am certain that he will make many World Cups over the course of his career. I think he would have been good as an impact sub, coming on and running at tired defences round about the 65 minute mark. But he needs to see this as a challenge and not wallow too much in his dissapointment. For one thing I think he should take heed to what AW tells him as it is for his own good, not to sabotage his international prospects and what lets him down is his obvious lack of initiative when it comes to shooting and picking the right passes which he needs to work on. He needs to be more decisive in this respect as I daresay his lack of initiative will have also been noted by Capello and added to his decision not to take Theo. I think we will see a better and more determined player next season and he will learn greatly from this experience. But I most certainly agree with LD's point that the international team have not helped by overplaying in both senior and u21 matches.
True-Gooner-Blood
I don't agree with LD that U-21 is a useless competition. England had by far the strongest squad at the tournament and the stumbled their way to the finals. If England had won it would have been nice for a young players to get some media shine. Nevertheless Walcott and Milner had no business playing in that tournament. By playing those players you are basically robbing other players of their spot, you didn't see Cesc Fabregas play for Spain even though he was eligible. Wenger tried his best this time last year to stop him: Here is the relevant article. http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-why-i-m-against-walcott-dual-role
gronedrone
i am happy tho, he would of been the scapegoat of this world cup
Gooner SA
i am happy tho, he would of been the scapegoat of this world cup
Gooner SA
i am happy tho, he would of been the scapegoat of this world cup
Gooner SA
btw, ronaldinho has a world cup winners medal.
hardcore_spurs
@gronedrone How would the media's spotlight (positive or negative) aid Theo? If anything it has hindered the lad. Either way it looks like a lot of our players will be fresh for the next season, which is always a good thing.
sunaadh
@hardcore_spurs
and really big teeth. What's your point?
sunaadh
sunaadh, half of my last post was about how it Theo should have played in the U-21. Anyways even though a lot of our players will have rested this summer its no plus, there was no tournament last summer and look at how well our players did with injury this season. I am glad that Wenger brought in Chamakh even though attack looks like the place we need to strengthen the least because RVP and Bendtner will both be over-utilised in the World Cup as they are their teams best players.
gronedrone
capellos a knob and will lead england to an early exit go USA.
Uskok
Agree with everything in your article. From the selfish point of view of an Arsenal supporter, it's potentially good news. Walcott, doesn't strike me as the sort of character who would feel sorry for himself. I think he's got the steel to use this omission as a launching point for his career, which by many measures, could be said to be starting just now.
hughied
By that I mean, 99% of footballers don't start to impose themselves until their mid-late 20s. See Zidane, Gerrard, Lampard, Drogba, Bergkamp, Giggs, Pires, even Rooney. Yes, Rooney. Until this season, Rooney was capable of brilliance, but equally capable of anonymity - see CL run ins in 2008 and 2009, At 24 years of age and with the responsibility of leading the line, he's become a world class forward. Giggs is perhaps a more fitting comparison, given their late arrivals to the game and their style of play - Giggs 99 FA Cup wonder goal was scored by a 26 year old. There are a lot reasons why Walcott frustrates. There are also a lot of reasons why this is so. At the top of the list is Walcott's physical and mental maturity; he is only 21 years old.
hughied
How is Ronaldinho undecorated? He has won CL, La Liga, WC, Copa too... He has won them all.
Sajit
If he calls himself a striker then why the ***** is he played on the wing? Remember how useless Henry was out on the wing, then Wenger moved him into the strikers position, we all know how that turned out. Give him a chance up front where he only needs to concentrate on one thing and thats shoot. At the moment he seems like he gets caught in two minds when in a good position and in the end just hits it anywhere... hes still better than swp and that lennon bloke O_o
lukychmz
I hear what you're saying luky, but I don't doubt the improvement to his game that will come from having played out wide for a few seasons. Hard to say what Henry would have been like without time on the wing in Turin. What most agree on (I contend) is that it would be a waste of talent and money if Walcott followed the career development path of Michael Owen.
hughied
henry was played as winger in monaco under wenger, arsene already made the point that he sees walcott as striker, but he needs to know how to get through defender or two without relying just on his pace. when you play for team like aresenal, teams will close you down and spaces will be limited so pace alone wouldnt help you. He needs to listen to wenger more, less to the media
Gooner SA
He's got pace- Nothing else. But still, choosing SWP over him and Johnson is downright criminal. I still think Johnson was the better choice.
JT_daniel
Awww poor wally walcott. He should only be dissapointed in himself, he has not been good enough. End of story.
IanWrightsUglyWife
My point about Ronaldinho was to do with how he will be held as an individual in the game, not the team honours he has won. He had the ability to be considered one of the modern greats, but instead he lost focus and is now considered a has been whilst still a young man.
Little Dutch
Isn't there a word that encapsulates Walcott's omission? Crisitunity.
hughied
sunaadh, the point i've made is that Ronaldinho will NEVER end up as footnote in footballing history. he is already a football legend! he has won the greatest price in world football i.e. the world cup, champions league winner and also a baloon d'or recipient. hence, the article should not have included ronaldinho's name.
hardcore_spurs
It's not a difficult point to absorb, but I'll try again. Ronaldinho has of course won a lot of medals, but my point is that he had the ability to be considered on the same plateau as the likes of Cruyff, Platini and Eusebio. None of those players won the World Cup, but they are still considered greats of the game as individual players. Djimi Traore has a CL medal, which he can treasure for the rest of his life and he should too. Doesn't mean he is one of football's greats. Ronaldinho could have been of that ilk, but I doubt he'll be vividly remembered in 20 years time the way he could have been.
Little Dutch
Yeah i agree. Same with Brazilian Ronaldo, he was trully amazing while at PSV, Barcelona & Inter for 2 years & ok for some of his time at Madrid and although his goal scoring record was always good he could of been held up their with in the top 5 of all time if he was more focused
paul_ownz
Still is a great, but could of been greater if not for the weight problems, partying, transvestites etc all though some of it was down to injuries
paul_ownz
dude dutch, ronaldinho has won 2 baloon d'or awards. the last time i checked, this award is an individual award. i think the issue here is that you are tacitly comparing ronaldinho to other brazilian greats who have achieved more than ronaldinho. looking at your examples of cruyff, platini and eusebio: these players are the best when compared to other players coming out from their respective countries. as paul said, ronaldinho could have been an all-time great but for other issues. however, definitely not a footnote!
hardcore_spurs
It's true to say Ronaldinho could have achieved much more in his career, but he will still go down as one of the greats. He has certainly achieved much more than Gascoigne. He has won pretty much every trophy in the game, voted world player of the year twice and was recently voted player of the last decade by World Soccer magazine. Not bad for a footnote.
bowiecokemirror
What I'm saying is, quite clearly, that Ronaldinho will always be looked upon as someone who culd have gone on and done more. Contrast and compare the last 2 World Cups where he went along as the biggest star in the tournament, he's not even in this one. He's only 30 yet the last three eyars of his career have been unspectacular when he should have been at his peak. There will always be that sense that he could have gone on and done a lot more.
Little Dutch
capello,has gone against what he said earlier...which was to pick players who were on form.....looking at that carrick gerrard heskey swp lennon and walcott have not been on form, the players who were on form who have been ommitted were dawson, bent, parker, adam johnson....so it looks like he gone for experience,over form...god help us
61 NEVER AGAIN
Surely the point made in the article is that Ronaldinho stopped being a world great in 2007 at an age when you might expect him to be at his pomp. His greatness really only lasted for his first 4 years at Barca which is also the period in which he won his ballon d'or and world player accolades. Compare his career with the longevity of Zidane for example or even Henry as well as those named by LD above and the point about his greatness being questionable is a valid one. The simple fact that it can be questioned gives its own answer.
Amos.
Personally i would have took him, as he is an impact player. But surely even the most blinkered of Arsenal fan couldnt deny that Lennon is twice the player. And as for your big game player argument (The only 1 remaining for Theo since both Capello no longer do pick him do they) He plays for Arsenal therefore in the last 3 seasons youve had Champions League games a plenty, and hes flopped just as often as hes excelled. And Lennon was great in the last world cup as the only decent impact sub replaceing Svens son Beckham.
HuddersfieldYiddo
Ronnie won everything. He may have peaked a couple of years ago but so what? And if Ronaldinho is a "what if" player despite winning World Player of the Year 3 times, what is Thierry Henry? What would he have achieved if he left you 3 years before he did? I just dont understand your argument.
HuddersfieldYiddo
I could and will easily deny that Lennon is twice the player Walcott is. Lennon ritualistically crucifies the league's cloggers, but bar a half remembered performance against Evra, he doesn't have the sort of pedigree Walcott has. (List of teams Theo has crucified, Barca, Milan, Liverpool, Chelsea x 2, Croatia). I'd say Lennon is functional at this point, whereas Walcott veers between brilliance and, errr, not so brilliant. It looks like Capello's gone for the most fucntional, unspectacular squad available to him and has gone with experience. But if you were to ask me which player between Walcott and Lennon was more likely to dribble around three players and score the winner in a WC Semi Final I'd pick Walcott. If you asked me who was more likely to trip over the ball I'd say Walcott. Basically, all both have at international level is a good performance against Croatia apiece, but Walcott has an awful lot more at club level. Not a great deal to choose between them though.
Little Dutch
I would have started Lennon over Walcott but the blinkered love of your vertically challenged son is frightening HY. If Lennon is twice the player id expect twice the amount of goals and assists yet the facts say otherwise, Lennon played 22 times with 3 goals and 9 assists, Walcott played 23 times with 3 goals and 2 assists. Lennon is the more accomplished player and I expect him to have a good world cup but to say he was great at the last world cup is astonishing to say the least.
iceman10
Actually, I remember at the last WC Ronaldinho, had his chance to sement his place as a true great but he flopped spectacularly. Lets not forget he was in his prime at Germany 06 and he didn't produce. You only have to look at Zidane at the same WC who was pretty much playing his last competitive matches as professional footballer but still dominated the tournament.
gronedrone
We'll have to see next season, provided we can make it past the qualifying round. I've never seen Lennon shy away from any full back, and in the last couple of seasons I can't remember him putting in a bad performance. Can't say he's twice the player til he does it at a European level, but Lennon's certainly a more consistent player, and I'd say a better winger. Stick them up front and Walcott would win hands down, but in terms of wing play Lennon is incredible.
bernio3000
Ronaldinho was world player of the year twice but if you don't understand the point it's because you're not trying to. All Ronnie's significant trophies were earned principally in the years between 2004 and 2006. Henry was picking up major awards between 1997 and 2009. Zidane between '95 and '02. So 'what if' is a valid enough observation to make on Ronaldinho's career.
Amos.
iceman, to be fair we're talking about two wingers, Lennon has the same amount of goals but 5 times the amount of assists (he actually has 10), that's what wingers are paid for.
bernio3000
Yeah I agree about Ronaldinho, he seemed to just give up and his love for the game diminished. He's won individual awards, but he should still be winning them with the talent he quite blatantly possesses, we should still be saying Messi and Ronaldinho in the same sentence but we're not. Instead he's regularly slated by pundits and lots of fans would question if he could cut it in the Premiership.
bernio3000
Stat: Ronaldinho has had a better career than Thierry Henry. And Henry is arguably the best player ive ever seen in the flesh.
HuddersfieldYiddo
All decided now --- lets hope it does indeed make him hungrier for success (At least he won't now have to do loads more M&S adverts)
victort
Ronaldinho has won the FIFA world player award twice more than Henry has done but Henry has won as many international trophies and way more club trophies. There is no doubt that Henry has made far more of his talent that Ronaldinho ever did.
Amos.
I agree that being left out of the squad will be a good thing for Theo and Arsenal and I hope he is seething all summer at being omitted because he needs to get his footballing head right. He must have been told and observed himself what parts of his game need work, but whatever he is doing to rectify the problem isn’t working. His feelings of frustration as he sits down to watch his England colleagues on the television, should make him focus on his failings and, more importantly, give him a break from the hyperbole English media so that he can ground himself again. He is not an instinctive footballer so he needs to be manufactured to robotically do the right things at the right time. Gary Lineker has said that, during a game, he spent a lot of time running into the areas where he should have been as a striker and a lot of the time it was a fruitless pursuit. But by the law of averages at some point the ball would arrive at his feet and he did the business. Theo needs to combine his natural gift of speed with a pragmatic, pre-meditated theory of what the right thing to do is in the right situation. A fresh approach to next season is needed and he has been given a great opportunity to think long and hard over the summer.
Sir Henry
Wingers in the modern game need to be getting more than 3 goals a season before we get all giddy about them like HY gets about Lennon. As ive said Lennon is the more accomplished player but still has it all to prove.
iceman10
Haven't read any of the comments yet. Just wanted to say that, like you LD, I too respect Capello as a manager. What is striking is that Capello clearly gave Theo chances, he started Theo in both the Mexico and Japan games. I think you're right about Theo's significance as an impact sub and I think Capello too sees that in him, and was trying to give him more chances to grab his spot to S.Africa. I think Capello really was pulling for Theo to make it. Which leads me to think that there must have been other things that influenced his decision. There are all these stories in the tabloids about Theo not following orders and being a bit dim, etc. I don't know if any of those are true but I do think it may be true that Theo disappointed Capello in training whereas, in comparison, Lennon and SWP fit in better to Capello's regime. I don't know, just throwing that out there. I agree with one of the pundits on sky yesterday who said that none of Lennon, SWP or Theo stands out as esp. impressive for any national team. So Capello made his decision on other criteria.
jaelle
When did Walcott crucify Chelsea, LD?!
JT_daniel
Walcott crucified Chelsea and Barcelona and what was the final result?May be Capello took notice of that and made his decision.
samuraisuraj
JT, Semi Final at Wembley and Carling Cup in 07. jaelle, I think you're right and I think there are differences between what he does at Arsenal and what Capello wants him to do. At Arsenal he is a wide striker. Capello I think wants a more chalk on the boots, swing em into the mixer style winger, which SWP and Lennon are probably betterat. But I wuld still take Theo as a decent Plan B.
Little Dutch
Id wager that if Capello was looking at results the fact England have won every game Walcott has played in would be a better one to look at samuraisuraj.
iceman10
When pundits claim that Walcott lacks a football brain what they really mean is that he lacks football maturity. Many of the criticisms being made now about Theo could as easily have been made about Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age - and many other players (invariably older with more playing time) he is being compared with now.
Amos.
Uh, paul, huh?: "still is a great, but could of been greater if not for the weight problems, partying, transvestites etc all though some of it was down to injuries" -- IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM CAN RONALDO BE DISMISSED LIKE THIS, those are fighting words. (said the Brazilian jaelle). I understand LD's basic point about Dinho, tho I can't agree that he'll ever be considered a "footnote." Dinho has a huge fanbase around the world and still draws huge crowds (he just did in Chicago over the weekend). He'll always be considered a great player who could've been much greater. LD's entirely right that he won't ever be remembered on the same level as Zidane, Cruyff, etc. But there's a level of great, remembered players below them that I think he fits. Dinho will always be remembered like Cantona, Bergkamp, etc. As for Ronaldo, paul_ownz.....and I mean the REAL Ronaldo...do you dismiss Maradona because of his drug use and weight gain? Zidane always said how much in awe he was of Ronaldo. It's too bad so many forget just how brilliant he was. I do in fact put him on the same plane as Zidane -- a level that Kaka can only dream about. Ronaldo was a fkg football genius, people. The Portuguese Cronaldo git can't even look up to lick his boots.
jaelle
Is Maradona a footnote then ? As he had a tempestuous career...absolute nonsense. Surely if someone shows outrageous ability even just for a small amount of time 5 years etc they can still be seen as a great. In regards Walcott, i would have taken him as impact player possibly but the guy needs a kick up the backside. He is a striker and is wasting his career playing on the wing, players with exceptional pace usually do not have careers of the longevity of other types of players. Gotta be a question mark around whether he is going to flourish at Arsenal. At the moment i find it shocking that a player playing for a top 4 club has not improved at all in 4 years. However if Capello wasnt going to take him SWP is a very lucky guy, i would have preferred A Johnson or even Ashley Young to go.
CGan1
But for injuries the original Ronaldo would have been the greatest player of all time. He was Zidane but with blistering pace and probably the greatest finisher ive ever seen.
iceman10
I fear insignificant semantics are taking over the thread but I never said Ronaldinho being tempestuous would contribute to him being mentioned in the "what might have been had he kept his focus" breath. I think being a bit pants for the last 3 years does that. The guy can't get into his national squad at the age of 30. Maradona went to the 94 WC despite the fact that he was losing his mind completely.
Little Dutch
You get me wrong Jaelle. I personally rate him as one of my favorite players of all time, but i think that if he was completely focused on just football and training etc that he would of gone down as all time top 3 players next to Pele & Maradona. But he loves to party, put on a lot of weight and didnt push himself as much as he could of. My family are from Milan and their is a certain bar which all the brazilians seem to like and he would often see him their in his latter Inter days. He fell out of favour with Capello over weight issues. As written on Wiki "Ronaldo only played 300-plus minutes for Milan in his single season at Milan due to recurring injury problems and weight issues". Overall he will still go down as one of the best ever, he was trully unbelievable and one of my all time favs, however he could of been perhaps the very best
paul_ownz
True Ronaldo and Zidane were on a different league.It would be unfair to think that Ronaldo will ever be considered a footnote.There is a reason he is called 'The Original' Ronaldo!
samuraisuraj
Of course his knee injuries did not help, but again during recuperation it has been said that he would party it up.
paul_ownz
Finally this is Christian Vieri's comments. "“When I was at Inter, Ronaldo was the player who trained less than anyone else, because he was the best footballer in the world and it is indeed true that we went back home at 5-6 AM,” he confessed. “We went clubbing. Then, I used to sleep for a couple of hours and went on to the pitch to train, while he laid down on the cot and ate brioches and cappuccino. “The big problem was that the following day at midnight, he used to show up at my house and honked until I came down so we’d go out again.” It was no secret what his lifestyle was like in Milan. Adriano went down the same route. As i said, my uncle would see him often out late on saturday nights.
paul_ownz
gronedrone: "I remember at the last WC Ronaldinho, had his chance to sement his place as a true great but he flopped spectacularly. Lets not forget he was in his prime at Germany 06 and he didn't produce." -- there's a very good reason he didn't produce: the manager and the older established players with the huge egos wouldn't build a team around him. It was embarrassing to see how Beto Carlos, Cafu, Ronaldo refused to pass the ball to him. It was all about getting Ronaldo his 15 wc goals. Ronaldo & Beto Carlos esp. at that wc were a fkg disgrace. The story of the Brazil squad in the 2006 wc was the story of the older established names with huge egos not giving a damn about building a TEAM COLLECTIVE and filled with jealousy and resentment toward the then CL winner in their midst, the then world player of the year, Ronaldinho. He was systematically marginalized. Everyone in Brazil believed the team should be built around him, it wasn't. Dinho wasn't entirely innocent either in this but the fact is he was not allowed to do very much in that tournament.
jaelle
ok, paul, I'll concede your pts on Ronaldo's poor lifestyle choices. On that criteria, I'd put Zidane above him most definitely (you can't find a bigger Zidane worshipper than me, headbutt and all). But I think more important than his partying and lack of training discipline was his constant knee troubles. We all thought his career was finished 2 yrs before the 2002 wc and then he went on to win us our 5th wc trophy in that tournament. BTW, when I categorize Ronaldo in that "genius" category, I certainly don't include the period when he gained all that weight. But anyone who saw him destroy the mancs in 2003 will never forget it. And while Adriano-the-basketcase also is undisciplined in the same way, he certainly can't be put in the same category as Ronaldo in terms of ability. Neither Adriano nor Kaka are in Ronaldo's category. Anyway, these discussions always break down because we're not defining out criteria. Are we talking the length of time the player was successful? Dinho's most successful period was maybe 2003-06, only 3 yrs. How many awards and trophies they won? Eusebio & Cruyff never won a wc, Henry never won world player of the yr (and btw, I don't think Cronaldo will ever win a wc either). All this was in response to LD's passing comment re Dinho - I don't think he can ever be a "footnote" but he won't ever be in the same category as Zidane or Cruyff or Eusebio or Ronaldo.
jaelle
It's eerie how right Wenger's prediction was.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/worldcup2010/article-1283206/How-Arsenal-star-Theo-Walcott-tumbled-best-joining-rest.html
sunaadh
LD, I agree that England could do with Theo's ability to suddenly change a game that needs to be shaken up. He's done that repeatedly. I think Amos is absolutely on-target when he says that it's difficult for an Italian manager (esp. of Capello's generation) to trust youth. It's a pity because, frankly, Capello really isn't spoiled for choice. You look at that squad of 23 and you really can't be impressed with it. Not that that means anything because the 2006 Brazil squad looked pretty impressive on paper. But it might've been a good choice for Capello to save at least one slot in the team for a wild card player, a risky player like Theo who can just come on late in a game and give your tough opponents something new to think about. There are lots of criticisms going on about Capello's choices, just as there are about every other manager (the Brazil blogs are rife with them about Dunga's choices). He's done well with what he has. BTW, I do remember Lennon in Germany in 06 and he struck me then as someone who added something different to an indifferent England team. I thought he did quite well in his brief appearance.
jaelle
Actually Ashley Young's omission is much more shocking and serious than Walcott's.Guess nobody wants to support him!
samuraisuraj
jaelle - So on paper other countries won't be impressed looking at our squad that includes the likes of : Terry, Ferdinand, Carragher, A Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Lennon and Rooney ?? You are having a laugh. On paper is a dangerous thing to judge a team but come on. Look at Argentina's squad - Amazing attacking talent, Veron ?!? and a truly woeful defensive choices, Brazil - Sprinklings of good players, but i wouldnt look enviously at their squad at all. Spain - Midfield and Attack unbelievable, Defence ours is far superior. In regards youth Milner and Lennon are outstanding young players, i though would have taken Adam Johnson as secret weapon. Walcott not good enough - Fact.
CGan1
Putting Fact on the end of your statement doesn't make it true. England's defence is perhaps superior on paper individually but with the injuries to Ferdinand and a Winger playing right back its not as strong as you think. As a unit Spain defend very well as do the Brazilians.
iceman10
Its all about Holland for me. Affellay, De Jong, Van Bommel, Van De Vaart, Robben, Snjeider, Van Persie. Defence might be suspect though
paul_ownz
He wasnt good enough to be picked for 23 hence why he isnt going - Fact ?. I was talking about on paper in regards the squad. As saying you cant be impressed at the names in the 23 is ridiculous. Also, as the world cup hasnt started yet and we cannot judge how the brazilians will defend as a unit against the likes of spain and us and Spain have not proven themselves against the attack of a south american team like Argentina.
CGan1
CGan1, if you think other countries are impressed by LENNON and Carragher (or Theo or SWP), you're in cloud cuckoo land. No, sorry England are not at all impressive in terms of DEPTH. Other countries certainly respect ROONEY esp., Gerrard, Lampard, Terry (tho I don't know why), ACole. They respect Capello. But get away from those 5 players, and that's it. The rest of the England squad are not in the least impressive individually, sorry to burst your patriotic bubble. Other teams have far superior depth. And as I said, that doesn't mean anything. You can have a squad of very impressive world class players and it won't mean a thing if you don't have a team. Capello knows how to create a TEAM - that's the only reason England has a decent chance of going far in the tournament. Certainly not because you have Carragher and Lennon in the side. That's a joke. As to your mentioning Argentina - yes, sorry, most of Argentina's team is far more impressive in terms of basic skills on the ball than the England team - FACT. If you don't recognize that you don't know football. That doesn't mean England can't beat Argentina, that doesn't mean Argentina won't be eliminated in the group stages. Of course they can. How many tournaments like this have you watched? There's much more to a successful team than skill on the ball. Greece showed that in 2004. Last year the unimpressive US beat SPAIN, ffs! I don't think England's defense is "far superior" to any of the top class teams. I don't think any of the better class teams need fear them. They're good, certainly not "far superior."
jaelle
BTW, CGan, I have several criticisms of this Brazil team (very little creativity for one) but if you don't know the strength of this Brazil team's DEFENSE, then you're in for a surprise. Brazil's defense has little to worry about from England's offense - Rooney's the only guy they need worry about. This Brazil team are Mourinho-esque in defense. What this Brazil team has difficulty with is teams that park the bus - that's why they got awful 0-0 results against Colombia and Paraguay. Given that this is a Capello team, I can see a dire, awful 0-0 game between England and Dunga's Brazil. Capello knows how to park the bus and he has better players than Colombia did. Those are teams that Brazil struggle against.
jaelle
In the sake of argument, Ronaldinho made way more of his talent, won and starred in World Cup wins, Champions League Wins, La Ligas and Copas aswell as every single european award. A quick cut and paste demonstates this....... Barcelona La Liga: 2 2005, 2006 Supercopa de España: 2 2005, 2006 Champions League: 1 2006 International FIFA U-17 World Cup: 1 1997 Copa América: 1 1999 FIFA World Cup: 1 2002 FIFA Confederations Cup: 1 2005 Individual FIFA Confederations Cup Top Scorer: 1 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball: 1 1999 Rio Grande do Sul State Championship Top Scorer: 1 1999 2002 FIFA World Cup All-Star team: 1 2002 FIFA 100: 1 Don Balón Award: 2 2004, 2006 EFE Trophy: 1 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year: 2 2004, 2005 UEFA Club Best Forward: 1 2004–05 European Footballer of the Year: 1 2005 FIFPro World Player of the Year: 2 2005, 2006 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 1 2005–06 UEFA Team of the Year: 3 2004, 2005, 2006 FIFPro World XI: 3 2005, 2006, 2007 Golden Foot: 1 .....How on earth you think Henry (who incidently has been past it for a good 4 years) has had more of a successful career than is just madness Amos. I know your Arsenal glasses are tinted the deepest red on here, but jesus....
HuddersfieldYiddo
And as for Walcott crucifying Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona....are you serious? Crucifying is what Messi did to you. He had decent games. Your arguments looking desperado if this is the kinda stuff you can come up with. The bottom line is that if Eboue, a Right Back and an average one at that, is knocking you out of the team on many many ocassions, then he certainly isnt the player hes hyped up to be is he.
HuddersfieldYiddo
Desperado is claiming Lennon had an amazing world cup 2006.
iceman10
And i love that summary LD. Lennon is just "functional" hes faster than Walcott you know.
HuddersfieldYiddo
He came on as sub twice and got substituted himself in the 2nd game.
iceman10
Amos, I couldn't agree more, I think too much pressure is put on young players. One day Walcott might become a world beater, for now he's not, but pundits are way too harsh and expect a player to be in their peak between the ages of 20 and 32.
bernio3000
What I meant when I said Lennon was functional, was that Lennon on the big stage is a steady 6 or 7 out of 10 player. He'll never give you a 9, but he won't often give you below 5. Walcott will give you a few 5s but a few 9s too. What Messi did to Arsenal was beyond crucifixion, it was a joke, it was an effortless one man band. Walcott created/ scored goals in those games and changed them. The defences couldn't live with him. I've only ever seen Lennon do that against the Boltons and Blackburns.
Little Dutch
spu 4 life u mug theo is crap never got control ov the ball dont know when 2 attack i could go on , cant be *****ed
J.COYS-TTID
agree huddersfieldyiddo
J.COYS-TTID
As I said HY in terms of trophies Henry has won everything Ronaldinho (who really has been past it for the last 4 years despite being 3 years younger than TH) has won and more. In terms of individual accolades he hasn't won FIFA world player of the year, which in any case is an arbitrary award, but he has come pretty close. A cut and paste job of Thierry's CV is no less impressive. French Ligue 1: 1996–97, French Super Cup: 1997, FA Premier League: 2001–02, 2003–04, FA Cup: 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10, Copa del Rey: 2008–09, UEFA Champions League: 2008–09, Supercopa de España: 2009, UEFA Super Cup: 2009, FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, FIFA World Cup: 1998, UEFA European Football Championship: 2000, FIFA Confederations Cup: 2003, UEFA Football Championship Team of the Tournament: 2000, Confederations Cup top goalscorer: 2003, Confederations Cup Golden Ball: 2003, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2006, Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year: 1996–97, PFA Players' Player of the Year: 2002–03, 2003–04, European Golden Boot: 2004, 2005, Premier League Golden Boot: 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06. Onze d'Or: 2003, 2006, PFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, FWA Footballer Of The Year: 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06, World XI Striker: 2006, UEFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, French Player of the Year: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, Whatever shade my Arsenal glasses are the ones you are wearing must be opaque if you can't see that Henry's career has been more successful than Ronaldinho's
Amos.
In any case, why not do a parallel comparison. At least we can mention an Arsenal legend and refer to him as a "great", then compare him with another great. Now, can we try same with a Spurs legend? (I am struggling to remember one with a CV close to "fair", talk of IMPRESSIVE). Oops! Okay; that's a tough one, I guess.
Naijagunner
HY, "crucify" is an exaggeration but you're an intelligent guy. Even you, a stalwart spurs supporter can recognize that Theo was a game-changer against Milan, Barca and Liverpool. That's the point LD is making. Why can't you acknowledge that? None of us is saying Theo should be an automatic first team choice or that he's world class. But the fact is that in big games where Arsenal have become stuck, AW has put him on in the last 20 mins or so and he's changed the game in Arsenal's favor. Sometimes it's resulted in wins for us, sometimes not. But the fact is he's done it repeatedly against big teams. Not always, but many times. And in a big tournament situation like the wc, Capello may find his team "stuck" and he'll look to his bench and look for answers, different options, something to scare the opposition with. Start Theo against the opposition and they'll soon figure him out. Sub him in the last portion of the game, and it's something else entirely. All LD is saying (I think) is that it would be good option for Capello to have to bring on a player who has proven ability to suddenly make opponents scared and make mistakes. Look at how Barca's defence responded when he came on, or Milan's. And as good as Lennon is (and I do think he's a good option to have), he does not offer that.
jaelle
Dont get me wrong jaelle i think Theo should have been selected, like Crouch. Both are very limited players but are perfect impact substitutions as both are hit and miss (although mostly miss) but can change games. Im more dissapointed over Adam Johnson though as he actually does have an end product. The thing (other than the R10 vs TH14 thing) im disagreeing with is that somehow Walcott has far more potential or is more explosive or whatever than Lennon when in my honest opinion hes certainly not. Also the whole "functional" thing over Lennon. Lets face it, id call Milner or Ray Parlour "functional" players, steady eddy sorts with great commitment and top team players. Id call Lennon explosive, or even a "consistant Walcott". I trust Capellos judgement anyways...
HuddersfieldYiddo
HY, Ronaldinho greater than Henry, really? Though comparing an offensive midfielder with a striker is in itself ridiculous, one just cant touch Henry's record. He has won many more games for club and country than Ronaldinho has. Also as Amos has rightly pointed out, most of Ronaldinho's top performances are concentrated in the 2004-2006 time period. Henry has been consistently excellent from 2000 - 2007. Dont even go near the goals and assists statistics for the two players. Henry has 357 goals and 176 assists for Club and Country. Ronaldinho has 201 goals and 125 assists. Forget goals, even on Assists, Henry is superior.
Deltaforce
Henry is a cheat. All profiles, stories, obits from now on will make reference to his 'handy' work and rightly so. He is diminished by this, and he will be judged accordingly. A great record, with a dirty big stain on it.
lordjohnny
Taken in by the media furore I see. Deliberate handball is no different to giving someone a bit of a shove as a ball comes in for a corner before you head it into the top corner. If Henry's record is forever blemished because of one incident, then Alan Shearer must be down to do some bird.
Little Dutch
Oh really lordjohnny? I take it then that also applies to Robbie Keane and his handball in the same game against France? Why shouldn't his entire career and character also be reduced to that deliberate handball? Or the Irish players who cheated Georgia when they faked a penalty in one of their wc qualifiers? Or does your moral outrage register wake up ONLY when the media tells you to? Or when it's an Arsenal player? Or a French player?
jaelle
I don't think Shearer has a record to protect. Deliberate handball (twice) is premeditated and is certainly different FROM (not TO) foul play involving pushing or tackling.
lordjohnny
I do not hold a candle for any cheats. Henry had an illustrious career now blighted by that event. Plenty of modern day footballers cheat and a plague on all their houses. Henry is the most high-profile, so he will receive the attention. His refusal to 'fess up' and his ham-fisted attempts to placate the opposition immediately afterwards displayed a considerable lack of decency, with no media prompting. This argument was prompted by the debate involving Henry, and his relative greatness, and recent events cannot be ignored, even by his myopic supporters.
lordjohnny
If Henry had been attacking a corner and given his defender a little shove beforehand (let's say, a la Shearer v Argentina in 98) but had gotten away with it, there would have been nothing said. Yet that would still be an example of a player deliberately trying to break the rules to get an advantage. It is the same thing, it's a rose by another name. Morals can be very bizarre, particularly when you allow the media to force feed them to you, salivating like obedient little pups when Dr Pavlov rings his bell. There are few, if any players on earth, who have gone a whole career with their slates completely clean in this respect. It seems to me the only uproar is that Henry got away with his handball, had he been pulled up, again nobody would have said a thing, yet his intent would have been exactly the same. If you're prepared to write off an entire career for one micro incident blown up to be an enourmous one, then more fool you for letting the media dictate your morals to you. I should hope your moral compass was as steadfast when Ginola and Klinsmann- players hardly remembered for their spirit of fair play.
Little Dutch
As an aside, most Arsenal fans here would tell you I'm hardly afraid to criticise Henry when I think it fair to do so. (Check this thread here if you don't believe me http://www.arsenal.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=518211). I even agree TH was disingenuous in his attempts at reconciliation- he shouldn't have bothered in my opinion but he likes his nice guy image a bit too much. It's just I recognise a media circus when I see one. The whole Henry v Ireland "scandal" is the sort of thing Baudrillard used to joke about.
Little Dutch
He didn't cheat then. It was the 'meejas' fault. Mea culpa fides.
lordjohnny
He cheated, just no more than any other player in the history of the game. It's just when the media decide to make a big deal of it, good little puppies wag their tails and do as they're told.
Little Dutch
If you really think that, it's a pretty desperate state of affairs. I always knew you lot were pragmatists, but, in defending your man, you impugn the sport.
lordjohnny
He was Barca's man at the time but it wasn't even the only cheating incident in the game. Given pulled Anelka to the ground by grabbing his ankle as I recall. He got away with it as no penalty was awarded. It doesn't excuse Henry but it does show just how selectively the word cheat is bandied around. Earlier we had some spud proclaiming Maradona's claim to greatness as though that wasn't qualified by any similar acts. By all means criticise Henry for what he did but don't pretend it was in anyway a unique event. If it had involved any team other than a 'home' one it wouldn't get much of a mention here.
Amos.
lordjohnny, you claim we are myopic in this matter yet you are not qualified to comment as you are hardly impartial in this matter. How can one expect a rabid spud with a long history of Arsenal hate to say something balanced in this matter? The froth from your mouth has already defiled this discussion.
Deltaforce
Er.......read the first thread on this blog, Deltafarce.
lordjohnny
lordjohnny, you are a hypocrite - your moral outrage is totally selective and totally based on MEDIA HYPE. If the media doesn't pay attention to it and hype it up, your moral radar doesn't wake up. When the media hyperventilate (and of course if it's anyone connected to Arsenal), then suddenly your moral radar wakes up -- PERIOD.
jaelle
Sorry, I can't take anybody seriously who writes like Snake talks.
lordjohnny
lordjohnson, taking others lightly and yourself too seriously is a problem we hope you will get over eventually. Besides you are not awfully smart in your arguments. Out of your league as some would put it.
Deltaforce
Capello making a big mistake?????.....Time will tell on that one, but i'm sure Theo will be big enough to take it on the chin and bounce back from this big dent to his pride.......In the big scheme of things he is still a millionaire footballer and not being made redundent....!!!!!!
quietman
Theo now has the chance to have a couple of weeks break away from the glare. Hwe needs to take stock and toughen up. As he is he ain't good enough. My regret is that Arsenal got the lad a year too soon. Same as Bale for them others near you, he took a long time to settle. Theo needs to toughen up and hopefully stay injury free to make his mark.
SFC Forever
Henry is a ******** ********* and a ***** cheat. Walcott is just *****. Why be clever when you can just be honest?
Tony Rocky Horror
For your information, Walcott wasn't always *****. This talented young ENGLISH player has been ruined by Wenger's insistence on playing him out of position on the right. He is a pacey centre-foward. He has been failed by his Gallic mentor who has done yet more damage to the ENGLISH GAME with his incompetence. Bejesus, what in the name of all that's resonable ever happened to 'Arsenal, The Bank of England Club'?! It's a complete disgrace.
Tony Rocky Horror
'reasonable'.
Tony Rocky Horror
 

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