Since his £12 million move from Southampton two seasons ago, Theo Walcott has made just nine league starts for Arsenal. The Independent report that Arsene Wenger is disappointed about the 19-year-old’s development at the Emirates Stadium, admitting he expected the player to have been playing to a higher standard by now.
The admission that Walcott has not “come on” as would have been hoped was a significant one made by Arsène Wenger yesterday. “He will get where I expect him to be,” the Arsenal manager said, “at the moment he is not.” Wenger added that he was unconcerned and said he believed that by the end of the season “he can make that step” to the first team.
Recent evidence has not been persuasive with Walcott’s latest outing, against Birmingham City, one of his most disappointing to date. “He was troubled a little bit,” Wenger conceded. “It can happen at that age and it’s part of the learning process. They have to deal with that. The expectation level is very high because he is very young and he has been projected early in the spotlight.”
Indeed, it could be said that Wenger helped contribute to the attention that Walcott has received, with it commonly thought that the Arsenal manager persuaded Sven-Goran Eriksson to include the youngster in his England squad for World Cup 2006. Is he paying the price now?