An Ode to Kyle Walker and a brief note on scapegoating
is Kyle walker British? Check.
is Kyle Walker young? Check.
Is Kyle Walker more brawn than brain? Check.
Unfortunately for Walker, he has all the makings of a Spurs scapegoat.
You won’t see it written on his contract, but when Kyle Walker signed for Tottenham Hotspur, he was signing up for a torrent of abuse.
He was just plain bad in 11/12. Sure, Walker did stuff that sticks in the mind, like scoring against Arsenal or that free kick against Blackburn. I remember distinctively Walker running from his own box, the whole length of the pitch and into the opposition’s box. Often this would lead to a dangerous attack down our left. Walker has always been a physical specimen, something you’d expect to be the by-product of selective breeding in humans. Even in the 90th minute of games, he’d sprint to overlap Aaron Lennon or Niko Krancjar.
Unfortunately, he was more brain than brawn. he’d make mistakes almost weekly. More often than not, he’d recover thanks to his specimen like physicality. Sometimes he was punished for these mistakes. A lot of people wrote him off.
Others kept faith in him, whenever you have a player so young (20/21 at the time) with such athleticism there is always the chance that he’ll make it as a star. On the other hand, he could also turn out more like Ade Akinfenwa. The majority wrote him off.
12/13 started brightly but it was only a flash in the pan. The year continued in much the same vain as the previous. The quiet rumblings about a player lacking ability boiled over and they became louder and louder. It all culminated in October when Kyle walker was forced off Twitter by a minority of asinine fans who blamed him for the 4-2 against Chelsea, and made those feelings known.
They blamed Walker solely as opposed to Friedel, Sigurdsson or Gallas who were far, far worse. They blamed Walker in a game where we were missing Bale for personal reasons and Mousa Dembele through injury. It was asinine to blame Walker but blame Walker they did. And I know exactly why. The first three sentences of this blog post. Walker is everything that makes a Spurs scapegoat. so, although, his performance didn’t merit it, he was the player who was sent into the forest through land-mines for sustenance.
Then the proverbial lid was put on the pot. Walker went through a patch of consistent play, nothing spectacular, nothing hand-bashingly stupid.
Until March 10th. Until the pot boiled over, again. This game was against Liverpool at Anfield and it was probably the nadir of his career. Walker received a pass and attempted a back-pass to Lloris which Lloris mis-kicked. Stewart Downing latched onto the ball and hit the ball through Jan Vertonghen’s legs from 12 yards away. I’ll guarantee you that Downing will never do that, or something similar, again but he was playing Spurs so he had to pretend he was Arjen Robben in disguise.
Then Defoe and Benoit Assou Ekotto combined to give a head-bashingly dumb penalty. That was never mentioned because everyone loves Benny. I love Benny.
As a person.
Not as a player, in fact, I don’t even like him as a player. I quite dislike him, to be truthful.
Then we played Inter Milan and they wiped the floor. we got through. Somehow. walker played as well and played badly. He was dropped for Kyle Naughton, who, to be fair, was playing quite good at the time. Then came the international break. Walker returned to side vs. Swansea. less than month after that happened at Anfield, Walker took to the field vs. Everton.
Leighton Baines and Steven pienaar at the time were the best attacking left side in the league.
Walker single-handedly shut the two of them down. He hasn’t looked back since.
Then Man City came to the Lane.
It isn’t very often that you can attribute the rise or the fall of a career to one incident. You can attribute the fall of Kolo Toure’s career to an incident in the 2008 African Cup of Nations . Amr Zaki turns Toure inside out. He has never been the same since, although he has shown a little spark this season with Liverpool. With walker you can attribute the rise of his career to one incident in his career.
It was the 75th minute, the ball comes out to Walker and he has about 10 yards of room. Sound familiar? Arsenal at the Lane in 2011. Everyone though the same thing. “SHHHOOOTTT!!!!” But no, Walker saw there was a better option. Bale was to the right with space to run into. the closest City player was Nasri.
The old, impetuous Walker would have shot. It might have went in, it probably wouldn’t have went in.
He played another blinder versus Chelsea.
This season has been continued in much the same vein. Defensively speaking Walker has been rock solid. He has never been caught out of position, the odd time he is, he always recovers. We concede very little goal-scoring opportunities but if it’s down the right hand-side, Walker is always there to save us. He has bulked up and now rarely losses an aerial duel. Offensively, walker has been phenomenal. He created 6 chances versus Fulham from right back. he had the most final third passes versus Fulham from right back. FROM RIGHT BACK! He also managed the most passes over the course of the season and has created the most chances.
Kyle walker hasn’t had it easy over the past two years but he got through all the baseless criticism and impetuous dismissals. This is my tribute to him, a player I’m proud to have on my team.