What do Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon and AVB have in common?

August 30, 2012 in Features, Premier League

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It is always a great feeling when someone tells you that you have great potential. It gives you a confidence boost and you can’t help but dream of what lies ahead if you fulfil that potential. Footballers and managers work under the same principle, but just like in real life, not all of us reach our potential (I never got that B in maths); two footballers and one coach have come under the spotlight in recent days and all three share the same problem. They haven’t fulfilled their potential.

Back in 2006, two promising young wingers were surprise inclusions in Sven Goran Eriksson’s World Cup squad. A 17-year old Theo Walcott and a 19-year old Aaron Lennon. Both were touted to be England’s future wide options, with David Beckham getting on a bit and Steven Gerrard being wasted on the left. Small, lightning quick, and good with the ball at their feet, you couldn’t help but imagine them jinking past some of the world’s best defenders in years to come. Sadly, that dream has not turned into a reality.

Let’s start with Theo Walcott. Big things were quite rightly expected after his £9 million move from Southampton in January 2006. The biggest fee ever for a then sixteen year old. But has he really set the league alight with his ability? I don’t think he has. He scored that hat-trick against Croatia for England in 2008, but it took a dodgy goal against Sweden this summer at Euro 2012 for him to score again. Not a good return. Arsenal fans will probably point out his club form, and say what a key player he has been over the last two seasons. In those seasons, he made 63 starts, scored 17 goals and made 18 assists, which is a decent return, but he goes missing far too often in the big games, and when he does play badly, he is really, really poor.

He has been a big story this week with rumours originally claiming that he is refusing to sign a new contract because he wants to play as a striker. Sorry Theo, I hate to break it to you, but you just aren’t good enough to play up front. You can’t head the ball and you aren’t a good enough finisher. Hence why Arsene Wenger, one of the best developers of young talent, plays you as a winger.

If he does move, I can see a move to his boyhood club Liverpool being on the cards, and maybe Brendan Rodgers can help his game flourish, this remember is the same manager who made Nathan Dyer look good. But for the moment, Theo just hasn’t lived up to the his potential.

Moving onto Aaron Lennon, he is another who had great promise about him but hasn’t been able to deliver the goods. His best season in a Tottenham shirt came in 2009-10 when he played 22 games, scored three times and assisted 10 goals. An assist every other game is good going and he probably would have done a lot more had he not suffered a groin injury which kept him out from December to April. Since then, he has struggled to recapture that form playing 57 games to reach 10 assists. He has a great ability on the ball but when it comes to actually passing the ball, he struggles. Like Walcott, he is rumoured to be on his way out of White Hart Lane, with Andre Villas-Boas deciding that he doesn’t fit into his team. Newcastle would be a good destination for him.

Speaking of AVB, he is the manager who I believe hasn’t lived up to his potential. Yes, he is only 34 and I am not writing him off altogether. But, so much was promised from his time in Portugal, but he has not delivered whatsoever. His Chelsea appointment was a surprise but a welcome one, with a promise to revolutionise the team. Out with the old guard, in with the new. It turned out to be a big mistake. Instead of gradually excluding the old guard, he tried to get rid of them all together. His high line tactics didn’t suit John Terry and the crazy David Luiz, but stubbornly, he refused to change it, and ultimately paid the price for this mistake, eventually seeing Roberto Di Matteo, his assistant, lift the Champions League trophy and FA Cup with a defensive formation and the old guard.

You would think that lessons would have been learned, to adapt to a team and gradually bring in your methods. But no. At Spurs, he has started off by doing the same. Out has gone Luka Modric and apparently Scott Parker, Lennon, Michael Dawson and Rafael van der Vaart are all on their way out of the club too. He is once again trying to revolutionise the club he is at straight away. The team looks short of quality in depth and AVB really needs to invest before the deadline on Friday. If he doesn’t, I can see this being a very long season for Tottenham fans.