Theo Walcott: Club Versus Country

Early morning article for you…

Theo Walcott is a man in demand.

The England international winger / striker has been a ray of sunshine in our slightly less than average season, with some brilliant performances catching the eye. The young forward has the pace, skill and dribbling ability to change games, and he has done that for Arsenal this season as well as England. His hat-trick against Croatia showed all England fans what the player is made of, and it may have come to his detriment.

Theo started the season well, and with him in our team, we seemed to be able to push the play back a bit – the opposition scared of his pace. Unfortunately for him and for us, he was injured for about 4 months of the season, a period where we were unable to find the net in 4 or 5 successive home games. He came back to the team in time for the run in and aided our revival and securing of fourth place. The player scored our goal against Chelsea in the FA cup semi final and his finishing is definitely coming along, with the rest of his game.

As the season has drawn to a close, the England Under 21 Championship kicks off – due to kick off in about 2 weeks, and Stuart Pearce has been given his wish and has been able to call Theo up for the finals. Theo has played a part in getting the Under 21′s there, so you can see from both his and Pearce’s view, it is good to have him there. But in addition to this, Fabio Capello has also called him up to the senior squad – which basically means that the player will not have any rest from now until the start of the season.

Arsene spoke on the FA’s decision:

“My feeling is that I am against it. I let it be known to the FA that he should not play in both national teams during the holiday period. It is difficult for us to accept, but the rules are on the side of the federation and we cannot do anything about it. It is not logical that he plays for the first team and the U21s during the holiday period. They (the European Championship) finish on 29th June and we start training on 6th July.”

There are certain rules, that we cannot contest, and the rules of country call ups is something we can’t do anything about.

“Capello is comprehensive and Pearce is less comprehensive. It is the normal Fifa dates. The basic problem is, can you use a player for two different national teams during the holiday period? I do not want Theo to stop playing for the U21s, but I think that during the holiday period he should choose one or the other. He wants to play. The player wants to play and I can understand that.”

The player has just finished the season with us, and will now travel with the full England squad for the two qualifiers against Kazikstan and Andorra before joining the Under 21′s for their month of football. He’ll return to training, play some friendlies and the Champions League qualifiers, before he embarks on a more congestion season due to next Summer’s tournament before he then flys out to South Africa for the World Cup. In all of this, I cannot see where Theo will have a chance to rest. Since he came back for us until the end of July 2010, the boy won’t get a week off – and that’s not fair on us, because if anyone is going to suffer, then surely it will be us – the club – the people who pay his wages. I can understand where Arsene is coming from – playing for one of these teams would allow the boy to have some rest.

Fabio Capello has been part of the decision making process on this, and has backed the fact that Theo’s in both squads:

“Yes, but he is young. Stuart Pearce spoke with the players and the player was happy to play with the under-21s. I also understand Arsene because he said he needed to take a holiday. But he did not play during the winter. His holiday was in the winter. When you arrive at the end of the season you are not fresh. It is a very long season, here more than the other countries because we have one competition more and in the last three or four years the most important teams, the big four, have been in the semi-final of the Champions League.

Indeed, Theo has had a few months off, but that was through injury and I doubt that means he’ll be able to play for 18 months without a single week’s break.

“I know that not only physically but also mentally you have to be very, very strong for this period and you spend a lot of energy. In Germany there is a mid-season break where play is suspended for one month, then play Sunday-Wednesday, Sunday-Wednesday after that. This is very important. Here at Christmas you have to play. You have to understand the right of the league and the money for the clubs, it is not easy to find a solution.”

In a weird way, it would be beneficial for us for the England Under 21′s to fail in the group stage. But in reality, it’s something Arsene has to cater for – potentially allowing Theo to start the season later – it’s not ideal, but it looks like the FA will force his hand. Frustrating handling by the England manager and FA, but what can we do?

I’ll be back later today with a view of the rest of the world of Arsenal.

  • devday

    Berth – thanks for your kind words – I have to reveal it is me who is behind what you’re seeing now – I’ve wanted to change the look and feel of the site for a while, but had to learn a few things here and there and plan it right – it’s not ready yet – but the starting point for a big future! I’m glad you like it and appreciate your regular commenting!

  • Debs

    I like the idea of changing the picture at the top frequently. It’s really cool Dev!!

  • Arsefan101

    Totally out of order how Theo can play for both team, in fact ridiculous – he’ll be brunt out for us and be burnt out for the World Cup. In fact Cesc will too…!!

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    Am I alone in thinking that international experience (at any level) is exactly what Theo needs? After his shoulder injuries he’s hardly played much at the end of the season and I personally see this as a massive chance to gain experience and fitness. It would be brilliant to enter the season with a fully fit Theo already spinning when his feet touch the ground.

    Obviously the chance of injury increases and he might get tired out but there aren’t many games in either campaign so I can only see this being a benefit really.

    Obviously there are downfalls, but there are positives!!

  • Dan

    Wow, what an amazing new layout. The look, and layout now matches the quality of the content. Well done, Dev.

  • debs

    If Theo doesn’t get injured, then it’ll be perfect Kieran, cos experience can only be a good thing, really. And seeing as he’s up for it, he’s probably thought about it a lot and feels he’ll not get burnt out, and I doubt he’ll play every single minute of every game. And as Capello said, he’s a young lad so it shouldn’t really be that much of a problem. If he hits good form in the tournament, that can only help us, cos we need a strong start next season. It’s just the staying fit thing that’s the problem…

  • Arsefan101

    My worry is that he plays now, plays for the season and in the run in next year he gets knackered and fails to perform at his best – although – I agree with Kieran – he does need some more experience in big games – and international football will give him that!

  • CON-MAN

    personally i feel there is no way he should do both one or the other…i know this is a fifa sanctioned event etc but arsene should really put his foot down…it doesnt matter that hes young you cant put that on him…am I the only one to remember we lost him for 3-4 months due to an injury FOR ENGLAND? granted if that happened in an Arsenal game i would just accept it, but he is one of our best players and in this case arsenal comes 1st

  • Berth

    I want to get something clear Dev; can someone be well over 21 and still be qualified to play for the under 21 team – I heard the call for Taylor (Newcastle).

  • devday

    Yes – basically – as of September the 1st 2008 – if a player was 21 or under, then they are allowed to be included in the squad – that squad covers the European Under 21 championships – in addition, I believe there may be some exceptions where a player can be up to 23 – but I will confirm this tomorrow!

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    The player has to be 21 or under when the competition starts. As qualifying for the competition starts up to two years before the tournement, the player can indeed be up to 23.

    Also, CON-MAN we lost Theo for 3-4 months due to a pre-existing shoulder condition for which he needed operations on each side. He did aggrevate it playing for England sure, but it was just a matter of time before it flaired up. It’s not all Englands fault ;)

  • Yemi

    Lets just hope for the best. He would benefit a lot from playing in the national team and also U21. I just hope he get stronger. These international assignments have a way of throwing up injuries

  • Fo

    I agree Yemi – he will benefit from it – so maybe it’s a good thing after all – the more experience he has at a younger age, the better. We need him to start pulling out good performances in big games!

  • Arsefan101

    Today is officially too quiet – thanks Kieran / Dev for answering those questions on the Under 21′s – it explains a lot! I hear Ancellotti is signing up for Chelsea manager today and his number one target is Adebayor?!?!

    (P.S. Some times the comment box doesn’t work!)

  • Yemi

    Arsefan101, ancellotti already signed a three yr contract

  • Arsefan101

    Oh my gosh – he is already confirmed as Chelsea manager? Has he bid for Adebayor yet?

  • Pete

    I reckon Theo might actually be alright. There’s no guarantee he’ll actually play in both senior squad games, and the U21 may not progress very far in their competition either. Capellos’ got a point in that his shoulder injury kept him out of competitive games for a while, so the training with the seniors and U21′s might actually help him with his sharpeness. But no doubt it’s going to be a gruelling 18 months for the young lad, but he’s young enough to recover quickly from game to game, and it could also help his progress with his football. We all know he’s not the finished article, so what better way for him to keep improving than to play as much as he can while he can.

    Also thinking back to last summer, Cesc was still given 4 weeks off after Spain won the Euro’s, so he’ll probably get at least a few weeks rest. We’ve got a few players who can occupy the wings, so I’m sure we can cover for him for a while if need be.

  • Pete

    Regarding Ancellotti, he’s a good manager but there’s two things that might go against him. Firstly, apparently his English isn’t very good, which was a problem for the Chelsea players under Scolari. And secondly, the guy makes everyone at whatever club he’s at know he’s the one in charge, which might also not go down too well with a few players (Ballack and Drogba to name just two).

  • Yemi

    Arsefan101, acellotti did not ask for adebayor, i heard he wants johnson from porthsmouth and Pato from milan.