TalkSport pundit Alex Crook has slammed Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhüttl for his decision not to play Theo Walcott in their FA Cup semi-final against Leicester City.
The Saints lost to Leicester City at Wembley yesterday thanks to a goal from Kelechi Iheanacho, and Walcott was only brought on for the last twenty minutes of the game in place of Moussa Djenepo.
Walcott, valued at £5.4m on Transfermarkt, hasn’t had the best of seasons on his return to St Mary’s, only scoring two goals and registering three assists in all competitions, although that has been hampered by a tendon injury after the turn of the year. But speaking on the TalkSport Gameday podcast (24:09), Crook couldn’t understand why Walcott was left out of the team because of what he can offer Hasenhüttl’s men in terms of leadership and experience of playing at Wembley:
“He’s their most experienced campaigner when it comes to Wembley, when it comes to the FA Cup. He’s scored in a cup final; I don’t understand why you would leave a player like that if you’re a team like Southampton, why you would not utilise that experience and why you would leave him on the bench.”
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Crook’s argument does fall down when you consider that Leicester City’s side didn’t have many with experience of playing at Wembley, other than the 2016 Community Shield which is essentially a glorified friendly.
So it’s hard to tell just how much influence Walcott would have had on the game had he started or been brought on a lot earlier. But even if he had been brought on, based on his return in front of goal this season, it’s hard to think that even that would have made much of an impact on the Saints’ chances on the day.