Arsenal legend Sol Campbell has revealed how taken aback he was by the weak mentality in the Gunners squad will you return to the club for a second spell.
The former England international enjoyed a hugely successful first stint with Arsenal between 2001 and 2006, winning two Premier League titles, including one of them as part of the legendary 2003/04 Invincibles squad that went the whole season unbeaten.
However, Campbell then made a return to Arsenal in the 2009/10 campaign, when Arsene Wenger’s powers were already on the wane as his youthful teams often under-achieved.
Campbell, speaking to Ladbrokes at the launch of their new European Championships 5-a-side Bet, admits he was struck by how young the squad was, and how much more they seemed to struggle with the mental side of the game.
One imagines it must have been a culture shock for Campbell, who had previously played alongside legendary figures and leaders like Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira at Highbury.
“For me, when I returned to the club, the first thing I noticed about the squad was that the age was considerably lower,” he said. “There were lots of 18, 19, 20-year-olds, but the focus felt like it had slowly shifted.
“Also the responsibility of the players shifted as well. No one wanted to stand up and take the blame. Everyone was shying away from that. If you want to solve problems like that, you’ve got to nip them in the bud straight away.
“I just felt things were dragging on and taking far too long to rectify, and once that seeps in it’s very hard to get rid of it.
“But I think they’re trying to turn things around again and get the club performing better. They’ve got some very good players there, they just need to improve on those performances.”