Theo Walcott was left shocked and bemused at Roy Hodgson’s decision to play him in a deep-lying forward role against Italy, reports the Daily Star.
Roy Hodgson originally selected the Arsenal star to play upfront alongside Harry Kane in a diamond formation. The role was not one he was used to, but similar to the position he played in the early days of his Southampton career.
After 29 minutes and with England trailing by a goal, Walcott and Wayne Rooney were given the order to swap positions. Walcott took up a No.10 role behind the two strikers while Rooney played up front.
It is a decision that left Walcott utterly lost. At no point in his professional football career, either in training or in a match, has he practiced playing in such a role. Inevitably, he failed to impress and was substituted for Ross Barkley early in the second half.
The same report claims that neither he or Rooney had been given any indication that such a switch could be made mid-match. It cut Walcott’s chance to impress as a striker short and dampened his first start for England in 18 months.
Walcott’s best position has been open for debate ever since he emerged from the Southampton academy. His raw pace and clinical finishing gave Arsenal fans the impression that he could emulate Thierry Henry.
However, by the time Walcott was ready for Arsene Wenger’s first team, the Premier League had changed and the old 4-4-2 system that the Gunners had used to such devastating effect in the first half of the 2000’s was defunct.