Signing Theo on the eve of Herbert Chapman day

Today, 19 January, is the anniversary of the birth of Herbert Chapman


By Arvind

It has been a while since I wrote on Untold. Having moved to a new city for work and resolving to not buy a TV, I have caught maybe 2 or 3 games in the last few months. Rest assured I’m in touch with everything that happens at the club though.

I think that Theo Walcott signing a new deal for however long for however much is a positive sign. And here’s why.

a)      His footballing improvement

Without a doubt, this had to be the main reason he got what he asked for, monetarily and from a footballing point of view. Theo at 17 was all speed ..and disappeared in games. Raw talent…yes but the expectations from him were too high, far far too high.

Thankfully he was under one of the world’s best youth managers and he was shielded from a lot of things. Yes, he probably would not have made it elsewhere…yes..we’ve given him a ton of chances…yes he has been a passenger many a time….yes he might have been dumped by many managers. But none of that is the point..right? He’s at Arsenal and has improved. There’s no doubt about that.

His crossing has improved, his finishing is so much calmer. He always had that by the way…this was clear in that Carling Cup final against Chelsea when Drogba beat us 2-1 and Kolo n Ade got sent off.

The first goal was Theo…classic Henry. And now there are more such finishes…from different angles. So many strikes from the right hand side across goal. Many great crosses…and by the way, to all those saying it was all RVP last year, many of those don’t happen without Theo and guess what…he still has plenty of assists even without RVP. So he’s not that awful. In all…he’s on an upward curve. Not yet the greatest CF of all…but he’s a very good player now and can only improve.

b)      From a business point of view

It was clear that AW and Arsenal valued Theo. But how what the question was..How much? Certainly enough to want him to sign a new contract and keep him into the last year at a risk. And Arsenal do not blow money away…

If they were willing to take such a huge risk, it means they wanted to keep him. And by getting Theo on a contract at a high wage, they’re saying..okay..we do believe you’re good enough for this..but if you slack up we can sell you off and our investment won’t be a waste. And obviously Theo is happy too with this. If he wants to stay on and earn more and become a legend..he will play well and keep working.

c)       One more player brought through the Arsenal system

He’s been with us for quite a while. He’s a bit of a link to the past. He knows how we play, he’s a good role model for a lot of young footballers and importantly ..most importantly…it proves that the Arsenal system does generate good footballers.

That’s Theo, Jack, Gibbs and Szczesny now who have all come through the ranks and maybe Frimpong if he makes it at all..which I hope he does. That plus the other guys who signed make it a very strong core..IF they stay together..which I now think they will.

Does this mean that all is well at Ashburton Grove? No not really seeing that we’re 21 points behind. But we’re doing all the right things..and I hope..I really hope this bunch comes good. There’s a lot of potential in there; lets hope it translates into us competing again for trophies.

Oh and lastly? Well done to Theo for always always remaining professional, never saying a word more than needed…even when he was benched and always being respectful throughout to everyone. Yes he wanted money…yes he was in the drivers seat…but he could have easily sat back and said..ah wtf..someone somewhere will give me enough..I’m good enough for that and quit.

He’s kept working hard and got himself back into Wenger’s good books (enough for him to start him) and convince AW he deserved a new contract. The right way. For me..this has been a great example to a lot of footballers on how to conduct yourself in the face of uncertainty.

I’m betting there’ll be a ton of people who comment here about how this is SO WRONG..but these are my thoughts..and I for one am a very satisfied Arsenal fan. Now if we can just get Sagna and Szczesny tied up too ….that’ll be really great.


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22 Replies to “Signing Theo on the eve of Herbert Chapman day”

  1. Nice read Arvind. Maybe Key sports management are an agency that can be trusted to, not do there business via the media?

    An interesting point for you (I hope) is that according to FIFA and their affiliate the CIES observatory the youngsters you mentioned are classed as Arsenal youth products yet all of them were at other professional clubs before Arsenal.

    They seem to only count a players education from around the age of 15-21. I do find it a shame that statistics wise smaller clubs are being omitted from these studies.

    Leading the way at player production are Barca, Lyon, Real Madrid, Man Utd.

    Which for me brings in to question this label of Arsenal being a selling club? For a true representation of clubs that feed the other professional clubs see the link provided.

  2. Well said.
    I think Tho deserves a lot of credit for his conduct. Some Arsenal fans should be ashamed of themselves. Lauding RVP even though he spat on the club with THAT statement on his website whilst giving the likes of Tho an Ramsey such a hard time. At least thy love the club, the give their all. Theo could’ve briefed against the club too. Said it didn’t match his ambitions blah blah. Basically, I know Arsenal gave me everything, Wenger made me but I want more money and I couldn’t care less about repaying the faith and effort of the club.
    But he didn’t. Thank God.

  3. Yeah Arsenal 13, let’s start comparing what people write.

    It’s nice to see your sentence begin without a capital letter, after all the correct ways sentences are begun elsewhere.

    There is too much Walcott love in this article. I like how you have highlighted Walcott’s manners and upbringing, I have known about these since day one and never expected anything less. Walcott’s father made a lot of sacrifices and supported his son and encouraged his son for years before he came to Arsenal. I know he has raised his son impeccably. The same can be said of Bendtner too. He may be silly sometimes when socialising, but the Dane has the same principles and manners as the Walcotts. There is no way Bendtner would do a Nasri or Adebayor, just like there was no chance of Walcott doing it too

    As for his football, it is lacking a great deal. As a striker he is incapable of playing with his back to goal, he’s useless with set pieces, his crossing ranks below most of the other wingers in the Premiership, has a look of puzzlement when he scores and often shrugs his shoulders when he does, has not improved nearly as much as Chamberlain since this rival came to Arsenal and I would cement Alex now on the right wing, thus giving Walcott no option of going back when he spectacularly proves how abysmal he is as a striker to even the most hardened fans of Theo. If he should ever return to the Wing, it ought to be the left. He has never had a poor game there and it’s where he was playing during his Croatia hattrick. I really see flashes of TH14 when Walcott plays on the left.

    With Chamberlain already a better footballer, I predict Walcott being the wxact same player he was 4 years ago in another 2 years, whereas Chamberlain will have Walcott’s England place by then as well as his Arsenal starting place. Walcott has his deal and now he has to prove he deserved it … something I think he can’t do.

    Now you twll me what all this improvement has been. Besides flashes of brilliance occasionally which seems like he is teasing us, he does not play game in game out like he did in the 2nd half against Spurs last season. That was a 100k a week player, but the guy is a part-timer. I don’t think you can justify all that praise you have given Walcott, not convincingly anyway.

  4. Arsena1Again,
    Ok, well exactly how is Ox already a better player than Theo? Perhaps, but on what specific evidence beyond your saying so? I’m not set against your perception, mind you; but I’d like to know what and why it is.

  5. Adam,
    Let me speak on another level – a subjective/emotive level, but no less real – as to why, these days, Arsenal has been labeled a selling club. Imo, it’s because of the combination of (in the end) selling off our best (even to our EPL and CL enemies, which is shameful) and disappearing (by loan, or kissing off) our up-and-coming young talents (previously touted project youth products). We exult in them being in the pipeline, but what happened to the heralded likes of JET, Bartley (we’ve just seen play well) for a couple of examples and where’s the forgotten wunderkind Ryo gone on our collective radar (not a peep about him anywhere, and not hereabouts, since August). To me, selling club is a collective impression which really translates into the loss of star assets (at financial gain) and a talent off-ramp that together, does not sit well with many of the fans. It’s not just about the way you’ve defined who literally sells off most of its products. (And, imo, your chosen list calls into question, perhaps inadvertently, the mantra of how truly superior is our youth development program compared to those you list (not even counting Southampton’s and some of the European clubs not listed).

  6. Arvind,
    I think your business bit is naive. You say “Arsenal do not blow money away…” – surely you naively overlook the deadwood (that don’t even make the bench) that sucks money from the coffers every second. One look at the absence of commentary on Gervinho and Chamakh, the best of that group, will undermine your point. But, back to Theo: surely you know he is very popular in Asia, AFC’s intended new market. As our face to Asia, if not our dual-face with Wilshere, keeping Theo is a smart and decidedly business decision, and both Theo and AFC know this very well. This cannot yet be quantified, but it is definitely part of the mix. With RVP gone, Theo-Wilshere are the face of the team; and branding with that image is a wise decision to have taken – a hard-nosed business decision. In fact, I’m sure there are image rights clauses in that contract, because that’s where most of the business value and the protracted negotiation details needed to be ironed out. Arvind, you have my respect on many levels as I hope you know. But some materialistic cynicism would add greatly, in this case, to our understanding of some of the hidden dynamics that delayed this signing. Cheers.

  7. He’s more versatile for a start Bob. He can play left, middle and his best position is Right. He has the same pace as Walcott, he is a better passer, he can dribble with the ball which Walcott struggles with and he can play with his back to goal, back into a centre half and retain the ball. This alone is enough, but Chamberlain can also read the game which Walcott cannot. He’ll weight a through ball with much more success than Walcott.

    Walcott often over hits the ball to the point he can’t reach it in time, that’s the extent of his dribbling. He has improved a bit on his timing and is not offside as much, but that’s about it. I think Chamberlain can play up front too, but I am not sure if that’s right. There’s also the physical strength of Chamberlain. He’s much stronger, stays on his feet and is never lazy. Walcott is lazy sometimes. I remember a league cup game he and Bendtner had to play with a team full of youth to add so experience, Silvestre and Vermaelen did too, and both Walcott and Bendtner switched off. The kids were looking to them for inspiration and constantly fed the ball to them and Walcott and Bendtner had the attitude the game was beneath them. Chamberlain would not have done this and would have given it his all. Very different players. Chamberlain is sometimes out of his depth but he still tries things. Walcott starts doing his Ashley Young impression when he gets shouldered of the ball for the umteenth time.

  8. bob,
    Ryo has mostly been injured during his time on loan at Wigan. Hence the lack of news on him.

    And I don’t agree with the issue of ‘deadwood’. ManCIty are still paying Wayne Bridge some part of the 90k per week while he’s on loan at Brighton. All clubs have wastage. I think the point was that we don’t gamble more than we can afford. The fact is that some players don’t work out regardless of the salary offered to them, and the fee payed for them. A Chamakh shouldn’t be the stick to beat the club with, just like a Fernando Torres should not be the basis for us to say that we shouldn’t buy anyone.

  9. Also when you look at our academy, a few things have to be considered. First, though Arsenal have always brought through players, when Arsene joined us, we were still training on school/university pitches. The new training centre came about from us selling Anelka. What I’m saying is that the basis of our academy system has only just been overhauled, and as such will take time to deliver. Barca’s academy was set up in 89, and it is only now that it’s had a huge impact on them (though they’ve had players come through before of course) In fact, Jack and Frimpong are really the first crop of players who can truly be classed as academy graduates from beginning to end. More will follow.

    Secondly, our academy may not have produced many players for us, but a lot of them are professional footballers across England. Some even in the PL. They didn;t make it at Arsenal because they only had the best team in England ever, in front of them 🙂

  10. Bob, The truth is out there brother. Our academy is a success in comparison to those on the list I gave, You have to remember where Arsenal are and how many clubs we have around us.

    Bob did you know next door to where we train Watford also train. We compete with West Ham, Chelsea, Fulham, Qpr, Charlton, Crystal palace, Leyton Orient, Brentford, Watford, Tottenham, Ipswich, Norwich, Millwall, Peterborough, MK dons, Crawley, Stevenage, Fleetwood, Northampton, Oxford, Dagenham & Redbridge, Wycombe, Barnet, Aldershot, AFC Wimbledon, Luton and Cambridge for the signatures of academy players some of those players will want to go to West Ham or Tottenham or Chelsea because that’s where their family history lay. Norwich and Ipswich have always had good youth projects, we always had scouts from those sides at our games.

    Who do Barca compete with?

    Who do Real Madrid compete with?

    It is so hard for Arsenal due to the locality of the numerous, other clubs.

    You take West Ham as an example; If they had held on to all their top players, they would be champions league material. So not only do you have to have a good youth set up but also the means to keep the top players developed.

    I think credit where its due. Were doing alright and are placed to do even better.

  11. Adam, I think why we are calld a selling club is that we sell our stars, many of whom were probably developed at least primarily, elsewher, and just honed to the finished product here, ala cr7 and man utd. Man utd would have come in for heavy criticism (as we are)if the sale of cr7 had coincided wit a fall to trophylessness. We have always sold players, the only reason why its now an issue is because we aren’t winning, and thus people say, 1. The sold players could have helped
    2. The fact that we further strengthen the competition doesn’t help
    3. Most importantly, we use the high frequency of player turn-over as excuse for trophylessneSs. U can’t continually do something and then use it as an excuse for poor output
    B. Our being that low on the chart doesn’t necessarily indicate that we produce less in quantity. It also has to do with the quality of our products. How many turn out to be 1st teamers in clubs in d big 5leagues?

  12. Thanks to everyone who liked the article.

    @Bob: As shard said…what I mean by arsenal not blowing that they will do anything to stay within what they earn. They won’t spend if they cannot…on what I mean. They have let big players go because they wanted longer contracts or a bigger fee..rightly or wrongly.. Gilberto, pires , Cole, rvp, maybe song…for sums that fans would eg them to pay. Cole wanted 60000 we said 55000 is that tight a ship. So for them to bend for Theo means they saw a lot of value… on a football field and of course in the market. He is the first player in recent history to have done this, and while behaving well all the time, which is why he has a lot of my respect. The AAA of course hates this, it is one less stick to beat arsenal with.

    BTW are any of the untold regulars over the last 3-4 years who I know from here and vice versa in Boston? Do let me know.

  13. @UK, Cheers buddy, I was just trying to get people to look at things from a different angle.
    I know we are compared with Ajax, but the difference there is we can afford to keep our top players as long as they don’t seek out the oil fields pay-out.

    Hopefully Arsenals period of weakness has passed. Where as clubs such as Ajax, Sochaux, Rennais, Atalanta and others of similar standing will always have their players picked off by the top tier clubs.

    We do the same to less established clubs. So when it happens to us, we should except it as a consequence of the industry, as hard as that may seem.

  14. Theo’s signing does show intent by the club .He is no way a CF
    nor the finished article but will be allowed to mature along with the core of home bred youngsters .
    Keeping and playing them together will hopefully be a good central core and to be helped by the seniors as well as good buys if and when necessary is not to bad a blueprint.

  15. Sorry ,should be …too bad a …
    @ Stuart – nicely nit-picked. LIKE !Just glad Elmer Fudd and Tweety Bird don’t post here !

  16. Yet again there are comments about the alleged “deadwood” being a drain on our Club’s wages element and why doesn’t it get rid of the players concerned asap.
    And yet again I have to point out that players ON A CONTRACT can refuse to be transferred on less favourable terms and wages. They prefer to remain on our books until their contract runs its course.
    Arsenal should’t be critised for continuing their employment which is guaranteed in law.

  17. No nicky, Arsenal should not be critised for continuing to pay them. They should be criticsed for employing them in the first place on silly wages.

    You can pay superstars more and average players less, you don’t have to pay everyone similar wages.

  18. Johan

    I suspect you would be the one to know before who will make it or not?

    Because I don’t think any other football manager can do this. Not even SAF, Mourinho, or even Pep.

    I suppose you would urge us to spend some money. Not that I am against this but how do you think you will attract players (who you don’t know before they will be good enough) ? By offering them 10k a week?

    Or do you think they will come on a contract saying : you could earn 50k if we think you are fine but if you don’t do it you will only get 5k a week.

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