Rio Ferdinand was an accomplished centre-back in his playing days, and has become an adept pundit who isn’t frightened to take clubs and players to task if he believes it’s warranted.
After Arsenal’s flat performance at Brighton on Saturday afternoon, the former Manchester United and England defender didn’t hold back when discussing Arsenal’s shortcomings.
Nicolas Pepe had fired the Gunners into the lead at the Amex Stadium with a stunning effort and just 22 minutes left on the clock, but Lewis Dunk got Brighton back on level terms seven minutes later before Neal Maupay bagged a 95th minute winner.
Ferdinand arguably wasn’t alone in thinking that it just wasn’t good enough from Mikel Arteta’s side.
“I think the recruitment needs looking at, definitely, and I think they’re working on that. They’ve got people in place,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport and cited by the Daily Star.
“You look there, are they the right characters? Is that a team that when they’re in the trenches you want to be amongst that lot to go and fight for a result?
“You need a result. You’ve got eight cup finals towards the end of the season to get a respectable position for Arsenal Football Club. I don’t feel that. It’s gonna be very difficult for Mikel Arteta and his staff.
“You can see there’s a freshness within that and he’s got his ideas and his philosophies that he wants to implement to this team, but I think we need to give him time to actually get into the transfer market and get some players who would mirror his philosophy.
“Not just in the way he wants to play, but also as personalities as well and characters. You need characters in these types of situations. You want to galvanise a football club. It’s not just about football ability sometimes.
“All them players on that team have got a good if not above level of quality as a football player in terms of passing the ball, technical ability. It’s the character that sets them apart. You need good, big, strong characters – and they’re lacking that.”
The loss leaves Arsenal floundering on 40 points and sat well outside of the European positions in ninth.
They look devoid of confidence and often rudderless, even though Arteta appears to be doing as much as he possibly can to change a mindset at the club.
Time and again, however, he has been let down by players that aren’t playing at anywhere near the level required to grace the Arsenal shirt.