Everton Legend Backs Walcott To Thrive On Great Expectations

by Paul McNamara

Everton legend Trevor Steven says Theo Walcott will “thrive on the big expectations” placed on him at Goodison Park – and the England international’s “ability, pace and goal-scoring threat” make him a prize addition to the Toffees squad.

Walcott scored twice and created another goal in his first two games for the Club. And the 28-year-old will be aiming to replicate his sizzling display in the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace 11 days ago when the Blues return to Premier League action at Watford on Saturday.

The forward’s close control, mobility and speed combined to push Palace onto the back foot, as the Blues continued the terrific home form which has underpinned their rise up the Premier League table under Sam Allardyce. Walcott embarked on eight dribbles against the Eagles, fewer than only four players across that entire Premier League weekend.

Three-times FA Cup winner Walcott, who Everton wrested from Arsenal’s clutches last month, had 63 touches of the ball in the encounter with Roy Hodgson’s men – a figure put in perspective by Tottenham Hotspur’s pre-eminent striker Harry Kane needing his side’s recent games against Arsenal and Juventus to accumulate exactly the same number.

“I have always liked Theo’s style,” Steven told evertonfc.com. "He can change games. He has great pace and can cross a ball well. And he can play through the middle as well.

“He looks to have settled in really quickly, and scoring early in his Everton career will help him. He is a good buy and I am very pleased he is at Everton, because he will add more quality to that squad with his ability, pace and goal-scoring threat on the right-hand side.

“He will pop up all over the place to score goals, which makes him very difficult to play against.

“The management will have big expectations of him and he will thrive on that. The problem he had at Arsenal was being in and out of the team and not being given a position.

“But he has a role to fill at Everton, which is exactly what he needs in order to achieve consistency.

“I am looking forward to him playing regularly and he is a very good signing.”

Steven would fit the same description – and then some. He joined Everton from Burnley in 1981 and promptly set about inscribing his name into Club lore.

The right-sided midfielder’s flair, vision, exquisite passing and nose for goal were all thrilling features of Howard Kendall’s rampaging mid-1980s Toffees team.

So, too, was Steven’s intuitive understanding with full-back Gary Stevens. The pair, born within six months of each other in 1963, combined in a blur of elegance and athleticism down the Blues’ right flank, following defender Stevens’ graduation from the Goodison Academy.

And Steven is hoping Walcott and Seamus Coleman can follow suit, after that duo launched their own right-sided alliance in electrifying fashion in last month’s victory over Leicester City.

“The more experience you have, the easier it is to form those relationships,” said Steven. “Gary and I were young. We were 19 or 20 when we first played together.

“You have two very experienced players there, in Theo and Seamus, and they should click very quickly. Good players can play with good players – that is the main thing.

“Back in the day, it was all about pairings. Your centre-backs, then your right-sided and left-sided pairs. We had those in our team at Everton. Then we had Paul Bracewell and Peter Reid in the middle, and two up front. It was essentially five partnerships.

“I know the game has changed and squads are bigger. There is a need for rotation and resting players, which I am not particularly a fan of, because that stops relationships building.

“Consistency of selection, I think, is paramount for players to get the best out of each other. Then, when you play with each other so often, the understanding becomes almost telepathic in many respects.”

Steven played for England at four major tournaments, including the World Cup finals of 1986 and 1990. And with the global fiesta set for Russia this summer, the 53-year-old is championing Walcott’s case for inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.

Steven, who eventually left Everton for Rangers in 1989, having won two leagues titles, a European Cup Winners Cup and the FA Cup on Merseyside, also believes Walcott’s arrival will have sent a surge of excitement through the Toffees dressing room.

“To get a player of his calibre in January would have lifted everybody – because of his quality and great reputation,” said Steven.

“People in the dressing room knew he could do it in the Premier League. He is proven.

“That lifts spirits as well. Then, when you see the attitude and talent he has – and he comes across as a very nice lad – he will be readily accepted in the dressing room.

“It is always nice to be wanted – and Sam Allardyce clearly wanted him. He is in a fresh environment and has a position to play.

“I would like Theo in the England squad as well. He adds a dimension we perhaps do not have. He scores goals – and has done so at international level [Walcott remains the youngest player to score a hat-trick for England, after blasting a treble against Croatia aged 19 years and 177 days].”


Steven lives and works in Dubai, where Everton spent five days in a warm-weather training camp before returning to England on Monday.

He wholeheartedly subscribes to the idea of a mid-season break for its revivifying effects. And Steven, who won seven more domestic titles with Rangers and another championship during a season with French superpower Marseille – to add to his Division Three winners’ medal from Burnley – has been impressed by the work undertaken by manager Allardyce since his appointment in November.

“I was an advocate for bringing in Sam Allardyce,” added Steven. “The ship needed turning around, and he has done that.

“From where the club was when he came in, to where it is now, is a big improvement.

“His main job was to get points on the board. Then you can start to play with a bit more swagger and style.

“The first thing is, be difficult to beat. And Everton, with the exception of a couple of results away from home, have become difficult to beat, which they were not earlier in the season.

“The mentality has changed, which is what Sam brings. The target now is to pick up plenty more points and finish as high as possible.

“Sam has run football clubs for so long. He knows exactly what he is doing and nothing is a surprise to him.

“It is always good to go away when you have had a win. Physically, and particularly mentally, it is refreshing to spend some time together in a different environment.

“The players would have needed to get their rest and recuperation. Now they can focus on winning matches, which, ultimately, is what football is all about.”

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