Date: 18th February 2007 at 5:51pm
Written by:

After an excellent debate on the Vital Arsenal forum regarding the ‘problems’ Theo Walcott is currently encountering, Vital Arsenal’s The Prof, gave his theories on what Walcott is going through.


I have to say I don’t think there is a problem at all. You get two types of players – the thinking self reflective types and the instinctive no fear types – Theo is clever and will all always analyse and reflect on things, he is the thinking self reflective type. This is a good and a bad thing, good because he will always learn and make progress, bad because he will hit psychological brick walls, the equivalent to writers block, this doesn’t mean he has any football problems, his ability remains the same, it just means he has to break through this wall.

It’s tough, I’m a graphic artist and it happens to me all the time, I get a block and I suddenly can’t draw or function at my usual level, it’s annoying because technically nothing has changed it’s just a battle within the mind that I have to overcome, experience has taught me to just battle through it because eventually I always reach the other side and I’ve also learnt that this creative block only emerges when your brain is trying to take you to the next level, suddenly your mind sets you a challenge and you have to leave your comfort zone, am I up for it? Yes because if I’m setting myself these psychological hurdles then I must subconsciously want and need improvement. On the other hand there are artists who do the same thing over and over again, never changing and forever remaining in their comfort zone, they hit a mediocre level and stay there for their entire career, it’s easy but it’s also crap. Someone like Stan Collymore is the perfect example of this, he had such ability but wasn’t prepared to do the difficult things he wasn’t prepared to challenge himself and so he never made any progress as a player or a person. Theo isn’t like this, he’s clever and he has high expectations and standards for himself so I’m confident he will overcome his creative block.

In fact we should be quite happy that he is hitting this psychological brick wall right now for two reasons.

1. The sooner this happens to a player the better because the quicker they recognize the mental challenges of football then the quicker they become mentally stronger.

2. This is the most important point – only good players hit this psychological wall because only good players feel the need to push themselves and reach a level which is mentally challenging, Theo’s current scenario is a sign that he is willing to mentally go where all great players need to go, to challenge themselves and set themselves super high standards.

Even though Roger Federer is not a footballer he is a sportsman who perfectly represents Wenger’s football philosophy and why players coming to Arsenal will have to mentally overcome their fears and doubts – Whilst one trick players were out on the tennis circuit winning tournaments Federer was practising in relative obscurity, he got beat by players like Roddick and looked mentally fragile. What people didn’t realize is that Federer was not going for the Killer serve or the match winning forehand, he was going for it all, everything. This is a huge psychological hurdle, a person who is prepared to venture into areas of their game which are weak knows in advance that they are in for a hard time, but these type of players are prepared to take on greater challenges in order to make progress on a level that most players don’t reach. Now Federer is obviously the best in the world and crucially he doesn’t have a weak area of his game, the other players who only developed their strong points are now perplexed by Federers mental and technical ability.

So how does this compare to Walcott? Well Theo has ability, he has speed and good touch but before he came To Arsenal this was the only areas of his game which he worked on or was taught to work on, in other words Theo was encouraged to work on what he was already good at. Not Wenger’s philosophy I’m afraid, Wenger wants complete players, Theo now has to work on everything, all the parts of his game that have been hidden away, all the difficult parts which were conveniently forgotten because of his blistering pace. This would be a psychological challenge to anyone but to a 17 year old who is suddenly surrounded by world class players it must be a bombshell of insecurity and doubt.

Luckily in Wenger he has one of the best if not the best manager at developing young talent, Wenger is a master at seeing the reality rather than the hysterical paranoia of emotional reactions, I think his time in Japan played a part in his calming observational abilities. Wenger knows that Theo is a better player now than he was when he first played for Arsenal and ironically put in better performances, he will know that Theo has not gone technically backward since playing with world class talent and he hasn’t suddenly lost his ability overnight, basically Wenger knows that Theo is undergoing a psychological personal battle and that he will eventually emerge a better player for it. Wenger has been here many times before, in fact all players who come to Arsenal undergo a psychological transformation.

What doesn’t help Walcott is people fusing over him, Henry hugging him, people worrying about him, this is something that only Walcott can sort out himself all he needs is his own mental strength and Wenger’s reassuring words and presence.

Article submitted by Professor Calculus

Articles submitted by Vital Arsenal members are based on the opinion of the member and not necessarily the view’s of the network itself


26 Replies to “A Theo-ry On Walcott”

  • I cannot praise this Article highly enough! Im suprised people question Theo when we saw the problems a much older Thierry Henry had when he came to the club. £11 million pounds, confidence shot, couldnt hit a cows arse with a Banjo in the 1st half of the season, the boss showed great faith in him and look what happend! Arsene Wenger is probably the greatest manager of all time (and I really do mean ALL TIME) when it comes to nuturing young talent, I think we should all relax a little because im sure the boss is cool with the situation and he will let Theo know this and allow him to develop the Wenger way.

  • excellent article prof, and i have been thinking exactly the same thing myself. What I am not happy about is the fact that you beat me to it, i was formulating a piece along the same lines, you swine 🙂 But a superb piece, veyry well observed and thought out, good arguments, and being a graphic designer as wel, i can relate totally to what you’re saying about the menal blocks 🙂 »»Arsene Knows««

  • Absolutely, 100%, bang on. At the risk of sounding self important, I totally relate to the analogy you use. I have been trying to write a novel since I was at uni and at times it’s incredibly frustrating when you write fifty pages, read it back and realise it’s not good enough. But it’s a process that all writer’s go through. An old English proverb, “a smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.”

  • * mental. I hope peoepl can get off the kid’s back. He’s playing his way through a learning curve. As the prog says, when he gets to the other side of it, watch him go… »»Arsene Knows««

  • the boy is talented there is no doubt, you can’t expect him to do wonders aganist a blackburn team ofr 11 defenders.. my only comment is that the ball should be played through a hole for him to use his electric pace and run onto.. i saw a lot of the ball played to his feet and then he is expected to turn beat a player and run… just my thought, but the boy will turn out to be a wonder !

  • as yuo say he cant have gotten worse since he came to us. he is also being expected to take people on rather than run in behind them like he did as southampton. dont forget the jump in quality of defenders as well. all those things together as making life ahrd for him. I know wenger always these things right but I cant help feeling there are more derserving players of his place in the first team (randall/Lansbury)

  • I particularly like the Roger Federer observation. I remember the boy beating Sampras on GRASS in Wimbledon a couple of years back, and I thought, wow, he’s going to win. He didn’t, nor did he win in subsequent tournaments, but where is he now? He’s going to be arguably the best player in the modern era, and for me he’s already eclipsing Sampras. And I can see Walcott heading in this direction. In football, of course. 😉

  • gazzap, i take it you have been to see randall and lansbury play then after making that comment??? i personally do not rate randall, he reminds me too much of bentley (in his cocky school boy jack the lad role)!! on the other hand lansbury i think is a decent player, gets his head down and gets on with it, but then again neither are wingers so can not play in that position!!!

  • If Arsene is of the opinion that walcott’s deserving of the berth at the moment, that’s good enough for me, he gets to see the players every day in training so is the best placed to make an assessment. »»Arsene Knows««

  • Would you rather we had Lennon instead of Walcott? Theo has potential but Lennon IS doin the business.

  • no, i’m more than glad we’ve got theo. I’d like lennon AS WELL AS theo, I’ve got no doubt he’ll blossom into a fantastic player. Some players just take a bit longer to acheive their maturity than others… »»Arsene Knows««

  • Lennon runs like he’s playing Aeroplanes in the playground! Seriously he is a good player but he aint gonna get any better playing wafer cup football, Theo will surpass him if Lennon stays at sp*rs longer than 2 more years.

  • i think wengers hand was forced to play theo, his first and second string were injured or tired, now he isnt able to revert him back to reserves without destroying his confidence – every time theo has played recently and recd critisism he has played with a weakened team – when he played early in the year and was seen as doing well we had a strong team – im sure he will come good, great article, i wish more people put thought into the why’s and didnt just say stupid things like ‘sell henry hes *****’ everytime he doesnt score

  • as soon as he scores a couple, the media will eat from his hand… he just needs to stay focused, keep a cool head and work hard like he has so far and things will fall into their place.

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