In our latest instalment of the Flashback series, we take a look back at a certain moment and look at how things might have changed those initial reactions.
Theo Walcott moved to Everton for more than £20million in January 2018 and signed a three-year contract at Goodison Park (BBC), but saw his future on Merseyside cast into doubt just 15-months later on after losing his place in Marco Silva plans (Guardian).
The former England and Arsenal forward had been a regular of the Portuguese’s plans following Silva’s arrival in the Toffees dugout, starting 23 of 29 Premier League games, but Walcott would go on to start only a further once last season after the Blues’ goalless draw with Liverpool in March (TransferMarkt).
It was suggested that the long-term vision of Everton, head coach Silva and Director of Football Marcel Brands may no longer include Walcott, and that Sam Allardyce’s second-most expensive signing’s poor return in front of goal had made it so they would be receptive to offers this summer just past.
Walcott ultimately did not leave Goodison Park, but his place in Silva’s plans remained in question for much of the opening weeks of the 2019/20 campaign, as the 30-year-old featured for just 74 minutes in the Premier League heading into the October international break.
But with his back to the wall and knowing West Ham United presented a must-win game, Silva trusted the experience of Walcott to bring a much-needed result on Saturday, and the 2018 arrival shook off the monkey of uncertainty over his future with a performance some Toffees supporters described as his best for their club.
The London-born forward can no longer rely solely on his once blistering speed to burn past defenders and bare down on goal, but was responsible for some of Everton’s near misses as the Blues hit 19 shots on the Hammers’ net twice rippled at the weekend (WhoScored).
No player for either side fashioned as many shots as Walcott as the 47-cap Three Lions forward unleashed seven efforts, one of which was a thunderous shot hit almost too-well as it crashed against the bar.
Another three of his efforts were blocked by frantic Irons defenders trying to keep the score down, as the visiting side could do little to prevent Walcott, Alex Iwobi, Bernard and Richarlison from combining in a free-form offence.
The 5 ft 7 winger also tracked back throughout his 86 minutes of action, with his 47 touches recorded up and down the right flank, helping to three tackles, one interception and 16 forward passes.
Walcott’s smart display as he tormented Arthur Masuaku was the sort of performance that will see that Everton’s investment was not fluttered on an expensive, £100,000-a-week (Spotrac) luxury item that offers no end product.
He is, though, still without a goal this season in any competition, but showed that he can be relied on to cause havoc at Goodison Park having adapted his game to offer something that Silva felt he could trust in his time of need.
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