The Gooner who should inspire Theo and Nasri to come back stronger
June 2, 2010
When the World Cup is taking place, Theo and Nasri could do a lot worse than meeting up and having a chat. Two exceptional talents in World football but both now are resigned to watching the biggest competition in football. Both Capello and Domenech have not said why they excluded Theo and Nasri respectively but hey can we try.
Back in January I hinted towards Theo’s anger at not having the opportunities to make his England place certain. Here was a man who I believe infuriated Wenger to such an extent that he suggested some players think about club football only before anything else. There are some players now who don’t find the idea of playing for their national country that appealing. Theo wasn’t one of them. There is a passion which is hurt but can be nurtured.
Where did it go wrong for him? It is a puzzler. I do not buy the whole Theo is a one trick pony opinion. I thought he was one of our better players in the last 2 months although we are talking of a squad that was missing about 5-6 of its key personnel. He single handedly won us the game against Burnley – if only Nik had his scoring boots on – it would have been a hiding. After that he scored at Wigan and also was one of the better players in the two matches against Barcelona.
Theo could have been excluded because he is vulnerable to injuries. However Capello has picked players who still aren’t fully fit. In the two friendlies, Theo certainly didn’t look like a man physically unfit. I also don’t think Capello did any favours by picking a side with 2 wingers against Japan that were meant to bring create chances, retain ball possession and maintain a defensive discipline. 8 of the 11 players that started for England were attack minded. Against Mexico, England couldn’t even keep the ball well so Theo’s duty was restricted. He would have to run at defenders and create chances on the counter. Hardly the sort of tactics to bring the best out of a mercurial talent?
Could it be because of attitude issues? Theo’s statement after the Squad was selected reveals that at least with the media he is able to communicate the right sentiments.
Nasri’s exclusion is equally baffling. Having missed the first few months, he was by far the best player in his first match back in Arsenal colours. He went on to make 26 more appearances scoring 5 and setting up 4. It isn’t an impressive return but we mustn’t forget that he is very much a player in the Hleb mode. If anything he is a bit too much like him sometimes with his reluctance to shoot. Two of his best moments was his chip pass for Cesc vs Burnley and THAT goal against Porto. Unfortunately once Cesc was finished for the season, Samir’s presence didn’t illuminate a team that badly needed his creativity.
However there are suggestions that Nasri didn’t make it because he was possibly seen as a disruptive influence on and off the pitch. We know about the now famous incident that took place on the French team bus. We also saw how Nasri showed petulance in a match against Hull. It is possible that Domenech didn’t want a repeat of 2006 final when Zidane lost it in a matter of seconds.
So for different reasons and it is all speculation, Theo and Nasri haven’t made it. However they are still young and quite capable of being part of 2014 and 2018. For now they could learn from one Gooner who did make it. I could choose Eboue who took a lot of abuse from Gooners, RVP for his fighting spirit to come back from injury. But I choose Abou Diaby.
On May 1st 2006, Diaby picked up the first serious injury in his young career courtesy of a mistimed tackle from Dan Smith. Abou had made a steady start at Arsenal but the form he showed was never world class at the time. But he was highly rated and it seemed only a matter of when not if, he would make it. How often has Mourinho tried to sign a 19 year old?
Since then Diaby showed moments of brilliance but his development was also halted because of several injuries. These as we’ve seen with Eduardo, Rosicky and possibly soon with Ramsey are inevitable for footballers who’ve been out of the game for a while. But last season, Diaby started 34 games for us which I believe was his best return for us. He managed to score 7 goals and set up 5, more than Nasri and Theo did. While he had the afro, inexplicably his defensive work also improved, apart from a few mad moments here and there. That includes ironically Diaby’s mistimed tackle on Nasri which ruled him out for the first few months of last season.
Some may query his selection for France ahead of Nasri but not me. Diaby deserves his selection and he doesn’t come across as a man with attitude issues, something that will suit Domenech. Of course at 23 he isn’t the finished article but it just goes to show that with hard work and a bit of luck what can happen.
Now Theo and Nasri have really ought to have a chat. Who knows possibly in the next season we may have two footballers who know how to be part of a team in every way possible.