I was a bit shocked the other day to pick up the Evening Standard, only to discover that Rio Ferdinand laying into Theo Walcott, calling him an ‘almost man’. I suppose it makes a change from ‘nearly man’, but what Rio is saying is essentially the same: Theo has not delivered quite the way many expected.
The timing of these comments are strange, given that Theo is performing up to expectations. It doesn’t mean he’ll continue to do so, but it doesn’t make sense to slag him off when he’s scoring goals and providing a threat upfront.
It makes you think that if he played for Manchester United, West Ham or Leeds (some of Rio’s former clubs) that he would have received more credit for what he’s done this season.
At the age of 27, Theo is reaching his peak. He was a late starter, so it may be we won’t see him at his best for a few more years yet. Rio seems to think the reason that Theo has not impressed more is ‘he still doesn’t know what he wants to be’. I’m not sure that is the case anymore, as I understand that Theo accepts he’ll be used on the right, albeit in a freer role that allows him to cut inside to the centre forward position vacated by the wandering Sanchez.
Statistics clearly don’t always tell the whole truth as Rio has highlighted how Theo has only managed less than 10 goals a season since being at Arsenal. These stats are meaningless, unless we factor in how many of these games have been spent on the wing.
Rio calls Theo ‘frustrating’ but, personally, I’m frustrated by the attitude of the pundits: why won’t they give credit where it’s due?