A week ago no one heard of Eddie Nketiah. When he came on against Norwich, fans were ready to criticise Arsene Wenger for not having the foresight to at least have an experienced bench on hand, in case something went wrong in the League Cup. Two goals later and the teenager is having supporters demand he receives a pay rise, want him to at least be a substitute in the Premiership and with us again fielding our squad players in the Europa League an insistence that he should start this Thursday.
This was the competition which was supposed to reassure Oliver Giroud and Theo Walcott that they would still get plenty of minutes this season. Now you get the sense that if Walcott doesn’t at least score against Crvena Zvezda, demands Nketiah to replace him will intensify. Now I’m not suggesting that Walcott should not have to face competition even in a reserve team. An England international on 140-000 a week sweating for his place even when his manager makes wholesale changes from the weekend seems unprecedented. Yet it’s the latest example of Walcott being too comfortable, something which sums up his career in North London.
Instead of using games against weak opposition as a chance to help himself to a hat-full of goals, he’s looking over his shoulder at the development of an 18 year old. Yet the fact is we are talking about an 18 year old. Walcott himself knows what can happen when you have the spotlight put on you at such a young age. Our manager seems to be the only one who realises that there is no need to rush him into the limelight. He’s seem the same happen to a Jermaine Pennant, who’s mentality was not able to handle what comes with being built up as the future of such a huge club.
Of course in 2017, it’s even harder for fans not to get carried away. Thanks to social media, opinions can be shared with the world in a matter of seconds. Last Tuesday suddenly a name most were not even thinking about when they woke up that morning were predicting this was going to be the talent to solve all our problems. Now to be fair, there are hardcore supporters who follow our under 23’s and have long been talking about this hidden gem. But the majority at the Emirates have formed an opinion based on two set piece goals against Championship opposition in a mickey mouse cup. If his contribution in his short cameo was to hit the wood work upon us entering the cup, no one would care. That shows how fickle the modern fans has become.
Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to dampen what the boy achieved, His dream came true and the fact he was able to deal with the occasion already tells us a lot about him. But if we really want him to develop and be all he can be then we need to not rush him.
While people are quick to demean the League Cup it is still one of the few trophies we can realistically win. Now that we are in the quarter final why not target a Wembley final? Both Manchester clubs and Chelsea take it seriously and they have a chance of winning the Premiership and Champions League.
Ask West Ham if they would like us to play a teenager up front against an established top flight side? Being put in a role where you are responsible for firing a side to a semi-final is throwing an individual in a the deep end. If he drowns who is to say it doesn’t ruin his confidence.
Why do all that based on two corners against Norwich?