Theo Walcott came to Arsenal aged just sixteen years old amidst great fanfare from the sporting media in England. Plucked from apparent obscurity and plunged into the bright lights of top tier English Football. However, there was clearly something already there in regards to talent and ability, as the teenager had impressed as he came through the ranks at Southampton’s academy, and would go on to make several appearances for Southampton's senior team (scoring in three successive games starting with his full senior debut), before being recruited by Arsene Wenger.

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In fact, so high was Walcott's potential as a sixteen year old that the misguided England manager at the time, Sven Goran Eriksson, included the teen in his world cup squad of 23. Of course, Walcott did not play and his inclusion seemed to be nothing more than a PR stunt, but the fact is, the talent and great potential were there and it was recognized. The teenaged Walcott had blistering pace, was a decent finisher and crosser of the ball, and it was thought at the time he could have developed into the next Thierry Henry.

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Wenger himself clearly also believed that, as he gave Walcott the number 14 shirt a year after it was vacated by the Arsenal legend Henry

Thierry Henry himself had come to Arsenal a bit of a lost soul. The great talent and potential he had shown at his first club Monaco, did not materialize when the big money move had been made to top flight club Juventus in Italy, and his resurgence, evolution into a world-class striker, and eventual legendary status is credited to the faith shown in him by Wenger – and it is one of Wenger’s greatest achievements.

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However, whatever it was that Wenger actually did to help Henry rediscover his form and develop into an even better footballer, whatever magic he used, is gone. It was already gone by the time he signed Theo Walcott, and the once bright future that Walcott had has been dimming every year since he signed for Arsenal.

That once great potential has materialized into nothing but bitter disappointment.

He might not have had a natural footballing brain (as was once famously remarked about him by a British football commentator), but a great head-coach and coaching staff would have brought the best out of him by nurturing his natural abilities (i.e. blistering speed, decent finishing), and then developing the areas that he lacked/lacks, and perhaps helped him develop into an even better footballer.

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Unfortunately for Theo Walcott and the legions of long-suffering Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger failed him.

It would be unfair to say that Walcott has failed himself. Perhaps to an extent, he has, but the buck has to stop with the man charged with ‘managing’ him. Having recruited the lad at such a young age and thrusting him straight into the senior squad meant that Wenger saw a finished article in Theo Walcott.

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If not, he would have been sent to join the academy squad or perhaps the reserves. Walcott had actually had a stint with Southampton’s reserve squad before joining the seniors. So that would not have been an unreasonable option.

However, regardless of the fact that Wenger perhaps already saw a finished product in the young Englishman, it goes without saying that a young player would need massive amounts of guidance and instruction. What he received did nothing to improve his ability. In fact, not only has his ability been on a steady decline over the last ten years, but he has also amassed plenty of injuries, which could be accredited to Mr. Wenger’s training methods. But that’s another story.

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