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Campbell deal makes perfect sense

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Phil McNulty | 10:53 UK time, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

When Sol Campbell departed the outpost of Morecambe's Christie Park after a single game for Notts County, it looked like the curtain had come down on his career at elite level.

The one-time England defender immediately cut his losses on a lucrative contract - while Notts County put the embarrassing collapse of a deal signed amid great fanfare in context by claims Campbell "could not adjust to the long-term nature of the project under way."

This was easy-to-decipher code for Campbell realising he had dropped a massive clanger and hardly the scene-setter for a return to the Premier League, least of all at The Emirates.

Campbell, for such a low-key figure, has a flair for the unpredictable, but his return to Arsenal would not have been on anyone's radar when he quit Notts County in September.

The short-term deal he will sign at the Gunners goes against all of manager Arsene Wenger's main principles. Never sign a player you have previously sold. Never sign a player who has been in football exile and is now in his mid-30s.

Indeed, Wenger himself emphatically ruled out any idea of a deal in October. He is, however, a pragmatist as well as principled - and if you piece all the parts of this deal together, it makes perfect sense.

If Manchester City's capture of Patrick Vieira, another ex-Arsenal veteran, on a six-month contract worth a reported £140,000-a-week has logic behind it, then Wenger's decision to break a couple of his own unwritten rules of management to accommodate Campbell has even more to recommend it.

Sol Campbell turns out for Arsenal's reservesCampbell turned out for Arsenal's reserves on Tuesday

Campbell's return must immediately be placed in its proper context. He is not being brought back to play regularly. He is not being signed as the centrepiece of some grand future plan. He is at the Emirates to provide experienced cover for the established central defensive partnership of William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen.

He may offer this crucial pairing some respite in an FA Cup tie, but Wenger will not have pencilled him in as a starter. Campbell will bring insurance to an area where Arsenal need cover, and is someone Wenger knows and trusts to do a job on this strictly short-term basis.

Campbell will not have the burst of pace of old, but experience counts for plenty in the crucial defensive areas, especially when it comes to positioning. He may have lost speed, but he will not have lost the knowhow picked up over a long and successful career at the top for club and country.

Those airing doubts about Campbell's fitness for the job in the Premier League should consider this fact. He has been watched by Wenger on a daily basis for three months in training with Arsenal following his decision to leave Notts County.

There is no bigger stickler for fitness in the game than Wenger. He monitors the minutest detail about his players' physical well-being, and Campbell has been working with Arsenal fitness coach Tony Colbert before being given this unexpected opportunity.

The word out of London Colney is that Campbell has proved himself to be in outstanding condition, and if Wenger did not believe he was fit for purpose, he would not get a contract. Simple.

Wenger has also shown a willingness to work with, and appreciate, the quality of older players such as David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams and Steve Bould. He has never trusted solely to youth.

Campbell is also a proud and single-minded man. He will not want to risk embarrassment at a club where he won Premier League and FA Cups. And he will surely be adrenalin-fuelled simply by the buzz he will get from being back at Arsenal.

He will also be a player with a point to prove. Campbell will not want the final curtain on an outstanding career to be a 2-1 defeat at Morecambe in English football's lower reaches. He now has the opportunity to give himself a more fitting finale, although this is a chance he will barely be able to believe after his Notts County experience.

And as Martin Keown, another player whose career was extended by Wenger's meticulous regime, pointed out, central defenders can - in some instances - emulate some goalkeepers by getting better with age.

It all points to this being a wise move by Wenger, even if it flies in the face of his traditional, and invariably rigid, transfer policy.

And what about what Campbell can offer away from the pitch? He is a natural leader, someone who has the experience to offer sensible counsel to the younger members of an Arsenal squad that is yet to reach full maturity.

Campbell knows what it takes to win trophies - and do not forget his experience of doing so is more recent than Arsenal's after winning the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008. This will also have been a factor for Wenger before deciding to re-sign Campbell.

He can help Arsenal's essentially youthful team discover what it takes to make the push from potential to finished product when it comes to silverware.

Campbell's comeback is a dream move for the player. It is also a perfect fit for Wenger and Arsenal.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    While I don't think this is the answer to our defensive problems, I hope it means money can be spent in other areas like the goalkeeper and defensive midfielder roles.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think this is Wengers "Owen"- a bargin on a free and is a signing that can have no harm in bringing in. Campbell has always been a solid performer and Wenger would not even have him on the bench if he didn't think so.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think this is a good move..........Arsene Wenger should relax a bit more on his policy of not signing ex-players.

    He should buy Flamini (i read in the gossip column that Tottenham are planning to buy him), and possibly even Alexander Hleb and strentgen the midfield.

    These are experienced and tried players in the arsenal shirt who are still at there prime and if we still had all these players (which we have developed), we would be serious contenders for more titles.

  • Comment number 4.

    Arsenal have a run of four very difficult ties between late Jan and early Feb, Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and Villa. I believe Campbell will be entrusted to form a back five if Arsenal are leading in anyone of those must win games.

    Campbell will be used very much like Wenger used Gilles Grimandi during the '98 title winning season - to close out games when the lead is slender. It goes against his philosophy but then, as Phil points out, so does signing Campbell in the first place.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 5.

    Why not get Lee Dixon back from the Motd sofa whilst you're at it?

    Whislt in his prime he was undoubtabley brilliant, I thought Campbell has been poor at Portsmouth.

  • Comment number 6.

    Phil, Bit of a ropey blog in general.
    Sol may have lost his pace, you must be joking, he has never ever had pace, just the the ability to shoulder people out of the way to let the ball go for a goal kick, Sol will be able to provide adequate cover with his one and only move.

    Against anyone of real pcae though he will get tore apart, i.e Agbonlahor.

  • Comment number 7.

    The signing makes perfect sense as he is only at Arsenal as back-up. At this stage of his career, he will be happy with that role. I don't see any world class defender coming to Arsenal in January to become back-up to Gallas and Vermeulen (sic). Sol is about the best any top club can get signed this January as back-up, especially with the world cup in Summer.
    I am also pretty sure Wenger got him on the cheap in terms of wages, i.e. compared to Vieira at City. £140,000 per week for a non-guaranteed starter!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Can I suggest that he doesn't play any first team games until after the 20th January. If I recall correctly Sol got a little upset and walked out last time he played for the Arsenal against Bolton Wanderers!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    I see this as more of a long-term move to be honest. I can't see Campbell being a regular player for Arsenal, but I can see him being offered a coaching or ambassadorial role for the club when he retires. Perhaps snapping him up on a free is Wenger's way of getting Campbell involved with the club once again. After all, the guy is still a hero at Arsenal, and I can think of few better people to represent the club and influence future generations of players. To me this would make more sense than signing him as a cover player.

  • Comment number 10.

    Don't think I ever saw this coming but fair play to Wenger for going against his usual transfer policy. I think it can only be a good thing seeing as Senderos (looks set to leave) and Silvestre (who has been anything but good) are the only defenders to backup Gallas and Vermaelen. Wenger is particularly picky when it comes to transfers so I'm going to trust him on this one. Besides it's not like he's costing anything! ;)

  • Comment number 11.

    hmmm, big hmmm.

    I can see the sense in that now Campbell will invariably end up with a coaching role at arsenal, but I suppose only time will tell if in a playing sense this will work. dressing room benefits too though.

    going to reserve judgement for now though.

  • Comment number 12.

    perfect sense eh? More like an old boys act or Wenger panicking to me! "but experience counts for plenty in the crucial defensive areas, especially when it comes to positioning. He may have lost speed, but he will not have lost the knowhow picked up over a long and successful career at the top for club and country" spoken like a boring hack who's heard someone say it somwhere before.Let me tell you, a player can get to an age were his brain and body don't work together anymore, you can read the game till you die but there comes a time, especially at this level when your body wont react fast enough to get you the position your brain is reading, you start making wrong decisions to compensate and your game falls to bits, you can see this painfully happening with Jamie Carragher at Liverpool, he's been a great but now is too old for the level he is playing at. Its nothing to do with losing pace its the ability for the mind and body to work as one! Its heartbreaking when a footballer loses this, some admit it some dont.I'd be suprised if Cambell starts a game if Wenger is the genius you all say he is.

  • Comment number 13.

    Campbell is also a proud and single-minded man.

    --------------------

    Although in Campbell's case the sense of pride and single-mindedness is basically a sense of egotism and greed.

    He walked out on Spurs, a club that was good enough to raise him in the game, give him his debut and many great years of tutelage only to see him simply to walk out on a free transfer to their most bitter rivals. He then precedes to walk out on Arsenal during half-time and then cites 'personal reasons' whenever a few fans spout nonsense about his sexuality on the pitch.

    Cue the stunning finale in which he walks out at Notts County, briefly raising the expectations and hopes of their fans only to them dash them when he realises that League 2 football doesn't suit up to his own high standards.

    The guy is nothing more than an extreme of what is wrong in modern day football. I applaud him for what he has won, but as a man with any spectre of credibility? No chance.

    There is a very good reason why lots of clubs refused to take him on, and I very much doubt it was to do with his fitness. Whilst he is probably a good fit for Arsenal under Wenger, had he joined any other club I think the tone of your article would have been a lot different.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't think this signing makes much sense. Campbell is about five years past the end of his playing peak, he looked pretty hefty in the clips I saw from the reserve match, some Arsenal fans are probably still unhappy about how he left, and I thought the Gunners had lots of money to spend. He might make sense for a team in the Championship or trying to stay up, not one trying to win the Premier League and European Cup.

  • Comment number 15.

    Come on, how many games has Senderos played this season? 2 Carling cup games. Campbell isn't going to get in ahead of even Silvestre i imagine. Makes sense to get him in if he plans on getting rid of Senderos in this transfer window.

    In Wenger We Trust!

  • Comment number 16.

    @6 Who says Campbell has never had the pace?

    "Using data captured over the last two seasons, Castrol have calculated the top speeds of every Premier League player and Walcott came out on top reaching 22.72 mph.
    And taking a shock second place, and proving that there’s life in the old dog yet, was Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell who recorded a hugely impressive 22.50mph top speed."

    2nd fastest player in the premiership not too long ago, so where is the basis of your comment?
    Sol Campbell was lacking confidence and has always been a great defender. Time will tell, but I think he will serve us well, especially now Ashley Cole has moved on and the silly rumours about mobile phones are a thing of the past.

  • Comment number 17.

    Couple of interesting posts suggesting this could end up with Campbell in a coaching role. Not sure about that but he has plenty of experience to offer in the dressing room.

    I don't see any downside to this deal. We have to remember he is being bought as cover rather than a first-team regular, and Wenger has had the benefit of working at close quarters with him for the last three months. I would imagine the vast majority of Arsenal fans will trust Arsene to make the right call on this one.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sounds like an ideal player to me. He's free, so Arsene can save some of our £35 million plus on other players (although we all know how frugal Mr Wenger can be), plus he's been there, seen it and got a wardrobe full of the T-shirts. He's experienced cover in an area where we need it.

    Now PLEASE Arsene, buy a striker to compensate for RVP's absence, as well as Bendnter's...

  • Comment number 19.

    Makes perfect sense???

    The guy wasn't good enough at Portsmouth last season, was released, no one took him on till September, then ended up at second division Notts County, played one game where he was embarassed by Morecombe, walked out and hasn't played since. He may have looked fit in training, but as often has been said there's a world of difference between training and matches and fitness and match fitness.

    Really don't see how it makes any sense whatsoever.

    Still it doesn't worry me as I'm far from an arsenal fan. Hopefully he and Silvestre will form become first team regulars together ;-)

  • Comment number 20.

    In relpy to Pickalino (comment 6):

    Sol has never had pace? Maybe you should have seen him play in his early days, the guy was quick, Spurs even used him up front on a couple of occasions... but agree he has lost the pace a tad now, all in all though a decent signing on a freebie, will provide good cover for Gallas and Vermaelen and offer good experience to a young squad

  • Comment number 21.

    The people who are claiming that someone quick will expose Campbell don't understand central defending. Being a centre back is, and always has been, more about positioning than pace. If the prime problem is pace, then you're already letting an attack get "on your shoulder" - and in that case, your positioning isn't good enough. History's best central defenders have rarely been the quickest - they've been the ones who are rarely caught out of position.

    None of that means Sol is cert, of course, but as Phil points out, Wenger has been running the rule over him for three months and knows a lot more about his fitness and form than any of us armchair critics. The only way anyone can doubt Wenger's decision is if you think he's a mug - and while I'm not an Arsenal fan, I know that Wenger is no fool.

  • Comment number 22.

    8. At 1:31pm on 13 Jan 2010, yourhavingmeon wrote:
    Can I suggest that he doesn't play any first team games until after the 20th January. If I recall correctly Sol got a little upset and walked out last time he played for the Arsenal against Bolton Wanderers!!!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Unfortunately you do not recall correctly. He "walked out" during the West Ham game but went on to be part of the team which got to the 2006 Champions league final where he went on to score the opener in a game we were so close to winning.

    I'm happy with this signing. It bring experience to the dressing room. He can play in the FA cup and cover for injuries in the Premiership and Champions league.. I have more confidence in him than I do in Senderos or Silvestre and until Djourou returns from injury he is the best signing we could make. Now hopefully Song comes back from ACN uninjured and Cesc returns soon. This is shaping up to be a very interesting season...

  • Comment number 23.

    Phil

    Very good blog this - i have to admit i am shocked that Wenger has re-signed Sol (i have even lost a bet with a work mate because i could not see Wenger going against his usual stance!!!), however as you quite rightly point out it is Wenger who has seen him training these last few months and Wenger is no fool so i am pretty sure that Sol is in very good physical shape and will provide Arsenal with capable cover should either WG or TV get suspended or need a rest e.g. FA Cup.

    Welcome back Sol heres to another Premiership Title (fingers crossed!!!)

  • Comment number 24.

    Can't believe that Campbell has been offered this opportunity. The way he walked out of Notts County was ridiculous and he doesn't deserve another chance in football, let alone at a top Premier League club like Arsenal.

    I think it's a great deal for Arsenal by all accounts. Just i've got no respect what so ever for Sol Campbell and, I'm disappointed to see him back in the Premier League. He does not deserve it.

  • Comment number 25.

    Wenger may have seen a lot of Sol on the training ground, but it appears he didn't see much of him at Pompey last season.

  • Comment number 26.

    At no. 25:
    Pompey with Sol: FA Cup and consistent premiership survival.
    Without Sol: Relegation and no stability at the back

    I think Wenger has seen something you cannot see.

  • Comment number 27.

    Good blog Phil.

    Yes I think the main thing to remember here when people say he is passed it or lost his pace or condition, that he is too old etc is that Wenger has been watching him in training day in day out and obviously he has been keeping up and, if Mr Mcnulty is to be believed, is in excellent condition.

    I think more generally it is important to remember this also. We often criticise or are aghast at manager's decisions to not play certain players (Aquilani springs to mind here) but we have to remember that the manager sees the team day in day out and he knows who is playing well and who isn't. Aquilani obviously hadnt been setting the place alight in training. if you are off the pace in training you can guarantee you will be off the pace in the cauldron of a PL match!

    Finally I think most arsenal fans trust Wenger, he has seen him in training the past 3 months and for reasons physical, technical, inspirational, leadership etc, he thinks Campbell is worthy of being signed (largely as cover for the defense) and so he has!

  • Comment number 28.

    Surely Campbell can only be emergency cover. It makes sense, I suppose, so long as he's only on a pay-per-game basis, and not on the reportedly-stratospheric salary he got at Portsmouth. In some ways this is a low-risk signing which reminds me of United signing Owen, though Owen is obviously younger and much better.

  • Comment number 29.

    Sol has been training with Arsenal's first team since October. I believe that Arsene has seen enough to him to know if he can play a role. And the fact that he is being offered a contract, tells me that has been and still has something to offer Arsenal.

    s3

  • Comment number 30.

    The short-term deal he will sign at the Gunners goes against all of manager Arsene Wenger's main principles. Never sign a player you have previously sold. Never sign a player who has been in football exile and is now in his mid-30s.

    ---------

    Has he EVER stated any of those things? Somehow I doubt it, it's just you journos making it up based on who he has bought previously.

    Wenger doesnt sign players in the mid-30s because most of them want one final pay day and ask for more than they are worth considering they have no sell-on value.

    Player in football exile? There are maybe half a dozen decent players who have been in that situation over his reign. Mutu and Pandev are the only two with enough quality, he could afford neither.

    Players previously sold? Again who fits the bill? Most of his sales have been because they were either not good enough, about to decline or asking for stupid money. Ashley Cole would have been welcomed back with open arms by Wenger (if not the fans), Viera 2 years ago would have been also, Flamini is probably different as Wenger sees his free transfer as a personal snub, who else has left that would be good enough to come back?

    Wenger is an astute manager, he will sign whoever is needed and this kind of deal can work out in the short term, it's also a great way to get Sol onto the coaching rotation.

  • Comment number 31.

    I must be going mad. Vieira to Man City, Campbell to Arsenal. Next thing we know, Jimmy Greaves will be lining up for Spurs again.

  • Comment number 32.

    The most encouraging takeaway for me is that Wenger has shown himself to be flexible and pragmatic. Hopefully he breaks his rule of > 1 year contract for 30+ aged players to keep Gallas at the club beyond this summer

  • Comment number 33.

    Deals like this (signing SOL on a short term contract) should have been done SEASON AGO! I never disagreed with wenger's youth policy and his desire to develop instead of buying star players, but for 4 season in a row there was an imbalance in the team with too many young players who may have sufficient first team experience but still lacking the leadership and poise of an established veteran. Who were these up and coming "stars of the future" going to learn from? Amongst themselves?

    Now Wenger please go and sign another veteran Striker and a veteran Defensive Midfielder on a short term contract to cover for RVP and Song....

  • Comment number 34.

    I can perfectly understand Notts County fans not being happy that Sol Campbell walked away from them and has now pitched up at Arsenal. That was an unhappy episode, but it should also be pointed out that the "dream" of Meadow Lane does not look like materialising any time soon either, which is sad for the supporters who had their hopes raised earlier in the season.

    I am amazed someone suggested Sol Campbell never had pace. He had pace and strength in abundance at his peak, which is what made him such an outstanding defender.

    Also agree that Campbell was not at his best at Pompey last season, but he will be surrounded by better players at Arsenal and he is being bought as cover. I also believe he will be hugely motivated by this move. He will not want to let himself down.

    And I repeat, Arsene Wenger has watched him up close for three months. He is perfectly placed to make the judgement on whether he can do it or not. Very important influence around the place as well - players with a track record of being a winner usually are. Good signing.

  • Comment number 35.

    "Sol got a little upset and walked out last time he played for the Arsenal against Bolton Wanderers!!!"
    =========================================
    No that was against West Ham at Highbury after he "gifted" the Hammers two goals. Ironically he played in the reserves last night for Arsenal against West Ham, albeit at Upton Park...

  • Comment number 36.

    If nothing else, it gives gooners the chance to bring another spurs baiting chant out of retirement!

    Double, double, double....

  • Comment number 37.

    I seem to recall Campbell having huge personal 'difficulties' with another player just before he left Arsenal. That is going to take quite a bit of getting over, since his credibility in the dressing room will no doubt be under scrutiny.
    Like Vierra, Phil has convinced himself of some kind of fantasy situation - both signings are nothing more than distractions to the real task both teams have.

  • Comment number 38.

    Arsene Wenger has never watched a player for 3 months day in day out, and judged his ability incorrectly. Campbells wage wont be huge and hes English. Sylvestre and senderos are NOT good enough by any stretch of the imagination.

    Lets all give sol the reception and time he requires. I know id like to see him up against the likes of Drogba and Kevin Davies above some of our other players!

    He was still excellent for Pompey last season and i seriously doubt he'll be slow. The man is pure muscle and didnt look slow last season. The number of well judged, last minute tackles he made was outstanding.

    Lets give him a chance gooners and hope he does a great job!

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh yeah quick lets get him on the plane to South Africa alongside micheal owen right?
    Nope!
    This is the third or 4th clanger of an ex star signing this season by a 'big' club. I don't see it comming off. I don't his head is in the right place, I think he has been out too long. He may be super fit, but he hasn't got the match practice and I think any decent forwards should run through him or they should not be playing. What is the premiership coming to? Gerriatrics United?

  • Comment number 40.

    I don’t agree that Campbell is the same as Owen. Owen will win you games as was the case against Man City and will not be a liability at the back when in a one on one situation. Don’t get me wrong, its nice to have him in the squad however if this is Wengers only bargain buy then its sending the WRONG message to all the paying season ticket holders and fans who would like to see REAL investment in the team and Campbell's inclusion is just a "plaster".

    The argument has always been to buy someone with experience and quality and not just a young up and coming talent who has not yet made their name....Campbell is completely on the other side of teh spectrum, well passed his sell by date both in form and speed and I don’t see him adding any real value.

    What’s next, get Ian Wright to shake the dust off his boots to solve the striker crisis?

    I hope Campbell is one of MANY new arrivals at the Emirates this January.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm afraid Sol Campbell is too heavy and therefore lack the pace to cope with the velocity of the Premier League. He used to be agile, but age has certainly gotten the better of him.

  • Comment number 42.

    This is proof surely that contrary to public declarations cash remains very tight at Arsenal, so the chances of any big arrivals in January are I would imagine nil. I'm puzzled by the treatment of Senderos, who I happen to believe has been unlucky enough in his Arsenal career to have run into a rampant Drogba or Tores at almsot every turn. Since the 2008 Champions League game against Liverpool he has been marginalised to an extent that is most un-Wengerlike in its apparent determination. One of the previous contributors makes mention of Sol Campbell's part in Arsenal's progress to the Champions League final in 2006. But it was in fact Senderos who played with Toure in every game leading up to the final, replacing Campbell after his Keeganesque flounce against West Ham. Only in the final did Campbell return. Just shows how lucky Arsenal have been to have not suffered injury at centre back this year, and that for all his bad publicity Gallas is invaluable.





  • Comment number 43.

    Sol could be good but why only half a game yesterday, i wonder if his legs are there?

  • Comment number 44.

    lets see if his legs last 90 mins not half a job

  • Comment number 45.

    To dogeared...totally incorrect. I have not convinced myself of "some kind of fantasy situation". Also, since when did Arsene Wenger start signing players as a "distraction"? Don't think so somehow.

    As Ben Hutton rightly points out, Wenger has effectively been able to conduct a daily scouting report on Campbell for three months. I would back him to make the right decision against that backdrop.

    And the great thing is we will all be proved either right or wrong about Vieira and Campbell over the next few months.

  • Comment number 46.

    Sorry Phil but you're wrong on all counts. I'm (quite clearly) a Pompey fan and Mr "the Sol man" Campbell wasn't even good enough for us last season.

    Sluggish would be a polite way to describe his movement. He was done for pace so many times last season, and you only need to watch his one and only performance for Notts County to see that his legs are long gone. Do you honestly think his physical condition will have improved in that time?

    Arsene Wenger's behaviour over the past year or so has been at times bizarre in the extreme, and signing Campbell is further proof that "the Professor" is going a little insane.

    You might argue that he's a free transfer and therefore no risk involved... that's fine, if you consider throwing 80,000 quid down the toilet every week a good piece of business. I'll be surprised if he's made more than 5 appearances by the end of the season.

  • Comment number 47.

    Sorry, correction - we were paying him 90,000 a week.

    My mistake... !

  • Comment number 48.

    Ive never read such nonsense! He was shot at Portsmouth last season and now hes rejoining the same league having not played a competitive match at this level for 8 months!

    He will be as much use at Arsenal as Mickey Owen is at our gaff but at least Owen cant cost us games. Having "Wardrobe" Campbell at the back may well cost Arsenal.
    If hes better than Arsenals famous youngsters it doesnt say a lot about Wengers faith in them does it.

    As for his influence in the dressing room? Isnt this the player that bottled it at half time and left the stadium?

    Campbell and Vieira as signings are as pointless as Owens IMHO

  • Comment number 49.

    As a Gooner I'm quite happy to see Campbell back at the club, as Silvestre and Senderos do not fill me with much confidence. Of course Campbell will have lost a yard (or two) of pace but a few others have quite correctly pointed out that a centre backs positional sense is more important. I've seen Kolo Toure (who has all the pace a centre back could need) beaten by forwards because he's been in the wrong starting postion. If Campbell can stay injury free he could be an asset over the coming months, as it's unlikely that Gallas and Vermaelen will be able to play every game between now and the end of the season. Wenger is no fool and will know exactly what Campbell is still capable of, he would have thought long and hard and spoken to his staff before offering Sol a contract. That and the fact that Wenger has forgotten more about football than any of us fans will ever know, so if Wenger is confident enough to watch a player for three months and then offer him a contract, well that's good enough for me!

  • Comment number 50.

    "Also agree that Campbell was not at his best at Pompey last season, but he will be surrounded by better players at Arsenal"

    Phil, would you mind taking a look at Pompey's first-choice starting 11 last season and perhaps reconsider that statement? We had a fantastic squad.

  • Comment number 51.

    Phil McNulty at 45 - Has somebody hijacked your PC? A 10 year old at home because of the snow?
    The reason i ask is because i cant believe a journo paid by the BBC would respond to a member of the publics comment using such terms as "Totally incorrect" and "Dont think so somehow"

    Dear oh dear. It now doesnt surprise me that the BBC are willing to pay Dermot ODreary to host a politics show.

  • Comment number 52.

    The night Sol Campbell scored in the CL Final for Arsenal was the best night of my life so he can do as he pleases as far as i'm concerned!

    Seriously though, Sol has a big frame and has never been the quickest, but he's tough and loves Arsenal. He never got to play at the Emirates so it will be a new experience for him, but I can see this being one of the signings of the season. Arsene Wenger doesn't 'do' players over 30 normally, (see Pires, Henry, Ljungberg, Vieira) so he must have seen something to go to the board and say 'I want to sign Sol Campbell'

    I hope it goes well for Sol, he looked so out of place at Notts County. When you've played in World Cups, you are better than League Two, and Sol was big enough to make the big decision and say 'I'm not doing this'. Thankfully he wasn't ridiculed as we all thought the same!

    As a Birmingham fan (pred: 9th, just behind villa) i'd love Arsenal to win the title. Victory for prudence and pleasant football over big spenders and one-man teams (*cough* Liverpool)

  • Comment number 53.

    I believe Mr Wenger is bringing Sol Campbell back to Arsenal to provide experience and a level head in the midst of all the young guns.
    This seasons title run in is going to be very,very close and any player that can provide that extra experience of having "been there and done that" will be quite crucial.
    Sol Campbell may look a loose cannon,if you look a his record of walking out on clubs,but Mr Wenger is an experienced coach and man manager,and proberbly feels Sol can do a job for him.Remember you can not buy experience.

  • Comment number 54.

    He may be only emergency cover but he's a damn sight more reassuring than ex-Red Silvestre and Senderos combined!

    Great signing...and if it all goes really well I might envisage him getting another year! As far as England is concerned I'm not in agreement with Keown, but if Ferdinand isn't fit and other defenders flatter to deceive, who knows, Sol might just make history by competing in his seventh major championship for England!

  • Comment number 55.

    "Campbell will bring insurance to an area where Arsenal need cover, and is someone Wenger knows and trusts to do a job on this strictly short-term basis."

    Wenger certainly didn't look like he trusted him towards the end of his first spell at the club.

  • Comment number 56.

    Phil, come on!

    What are you being paid for? Sol campbell doesn't not deserve a blog. Granted a well decorated, sometime odd man has had his time. Can you not blog on a topic which might be more inclusive?

    The state of the Championship or the slow death of football in he UK, how money is actually killing most of the teams who are to enslaved to it they cannot rid themselves of a finacial melt down?

    Anyone at the BBC prepared to raise the bar? Robbo not you please we prefer you in the gutter...better banter there

  • Comment number 57.

    Hey guys! Though I welcome Sol back @ The Emirates, I am still awaiting the striker signing we are in desperate looking for in this transfer market.

    As far as Campbell story goes, any player who comes for free is a good signing. Hope all the Ex-Gunners learn and come back to the place where they have made their names.

  • Comment number 58.

    To Whittingham_42...I accept your view of Campbell at Portsmouth. You will have watched him a lot more than me, but Wenger (no mean judge I'm sure you will agree) would not have sanctioned this deal to do Campbell a good turn. He will have detected something in his spell training at London Colney that has made him change his mind about making this signing.

    And once again we have to remember he is there as cover, especially as Senderos looks like he may leave Arsenal another man down in central defence after asking to go.

    As I said, I am not sure what the downside is for this and plenty of Arsenal fans agree with me - and surely they know what their team currently requires. Campbell is not being signed to replace Gallas or Vermaelen, he is there to add squad strength for a short period.

    To Nick. If someone makes what I regard as an incorrect assumption about me, such as saying I have convinced myself of "some kind of fantasy situation", then I reserve the right to respond to that and defend myself.

    Widening the debate, what are the other areas Arsenal fans feel Wenger should be looking to strengthen in the last couple of weeks of the transfer window?

  • Comment number 59.

    His signing could be a hit or miss. Unfortunately his and Viera's have more risk than Owen. If Owen doesnt score, then what, do you blame him for throwing away the game?? However if players ghost past SC or PV and score, then who do you blame?? Agreed they both have experience but its whether their body can move as quickly as their mind..
    Hit or Miss
    Viera- Miss
    Campbell- Hit
    Owen-Hit

  • Comment number 60.

    "Seriously though, Sol has a big frame and has never been the quickest"

    That's not true, in his prime he was lightning fast and that combined with his strength made him such a great defender.

    But... that's the problem. Long past his prime and on a downward spiral, a bit like Arsene Wenger come to think of it.

  • Comment number 61.

    I think it is a great signing. Will give us back up and add a bit of experience to the dressing room. He looks to be in good shape and Arsene Wenger is no fool, having seen him train for several months us Arsenal fans should back Wengers judgement. As for other players to come in, I am not so sure we need them. Song has been outstanding this season, so we do not need a defensive midfielder, as Denilson can cover and also Diaby if necessary. We also have Eastmond coming through who looks a good prospect. If Bendtner is back, he will add much needed physical presence up front. So all those Arsenal fans shouting out for us to spend stupid money should just look at the dire financial situation at other clubs and be thankful ur club is run sensibly. Lets have faith in Wenger and his squad!

  • Comment number 62.

    I can't say I'm convinced by this move. Yes we can talk a lot about the experience he brings but he won't be able to handle the pace of top class forwards in the Premiership. Nowadays the top sides have centrebacks who are strong and fast, that's the way the game has evolved to deal with the threat of pacy frontmen. You'd think with the money constantly mentioned to be at Wenger's disposal he'd bite the bullet and invest in another quality defender.

  • Comment number 63.

    Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith says Arsene Wenger should be trusted on this deal. I agree with him. http://bit.ly/4nCrI6

  • Comment number 64.

    "sensible counsel to the younger members"...?
    On how to get Eurostar tickets to Brussels at the last minute perhaps?
    No, only joking, Arsène is capable of forgiving an untypical error vis Gallas. It takes a great man to make a great mistake.
    Sol will be fine for the two FA cup games he plays in.

  • Comment number 65.

    Phil good blog but your comment about the quality of fellow players at Pompey last year was just sloppy thinking. In defence alone, Glen Johnson (Liverpool and England) David James (England) Silvain Distin, Younes Kaboul, Big Hermann and ofcourse Armand Traore (ARSENAL).
    Not to forget Kranjcaer,Defoe, Crouch (Spurs)and Diarra (Real Madrid).
    I know we can argue who is better than who but the feeling that he will be carried by his fellow players is way off.
    And as for loyalty he moved from Spurs and my dont they STILL whine about it. As for going to Notts County it sounds like he was sold a pup so hardly a major shock there.
    Pompey would still have him if we could afford him...........but that another story. Thanks for letting me talk football x

  • Comment number 66.

    In answer to Phil's question '...what are the other areas... Wenger should be looking to strengthen in the last couple of weeks of the transfer window?' I think top of the list has to be a striker. I don't think he necessarily needs to be a top class striker, as the whole Arsenal team seems to be capable of scoring goals, but just a bit of extra cover (the same reason as Wenger signed Campbell). I'd like to see Arsenal sign a big, strong classic centre forward as I feel that would add an extra dimension to the Arsenal squad (which as we know is jam packed full of small, skilful and fast players), i.e. a replacement for Adebayor who I believe has left a large hole in the front line with his strength and ability to hold up the ball, as well as power in the air. And before somebody points it out - I do realise that Adebayor did go off the boil somewhat towards the end of his Arsenal career, but that's not to detract from what an important player he was for the club, especially in the 07/08 season.

  • Comment number 67.

    At 3:53pm on 13 Jan 2010, Whittingham_42 wrote:

    "Also agree that Campbell was not at his best at Pompey last season, but he will be surrounded by better players at Arsenal"

    Phil, would you mind taking a look at Pompey's first-choice starting 11 last season and perhaps reconsider that statement? We had a fantastic squad.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not nearly as good as Arsenal's starting 11 this term or indeed our best squad now w/injuries. The point is Campbell never relied on his physical prowess to defend, he (along with defenders like Maldini) used intelligence and experience which stays with the player long after his phisicality has waned. It's something that comes natural to that type of player, knowing where to position yourself or what to do in a certain situation is instinctive to Campbell.

    He worked under Wenger for a while so he knows what is expected of him and is no doubt familiar and indeed comfortable with his coaching style.

  • Comment number 68.

    To sunnypompey...Not saying Pompey had a bad squad last season and you make a good case by listing the names. Arsenal's squad was, and is, so much better though. Results tell you as much.

  • Comment number 69.

    Please BBC, stop with the excessive linking in the blogs-it ruins them! When you're reading a piece, it has a distinct voice, a personality. The moment you get to the far-too-numerous blue bits, the rhythm of the piece is ruined, its so jarring to be reading something and then suddenly, for no good reason, the sentence is placed in emphasis. The aesthetics and mechanics of an article are hugely important, stop messing about!

  • Comment number 70.

    DOUBLE DOUBLE DOUBLE...!

    it will be nice to have a big lump at the back, even though he is only a couple inches taller than vermaelen, sol wont be bullied by the likes of stoke and the other anti-football teams. this new opportunity will (with any luck) give him the impetus to pay back the boss who has twice now given him a chance to prove his ability and worth at the highest level.

    only 2 players can claim to be invincible centre halves, his experiences can only have a positive influence on a side regularly lambasted for being too lightweight and inexperienced.

    WHAT DID SHE WEAR...?

  • Comment number 71.


    I agree that this is a win-win situation for many reasons.
    For example, it enables us to rest either Vermalen or Gallas for the FA Cup games. It also negates the need to use Sylvestre or Senderos (i rate Djourou, but i assume he will not play this season) if neither TV nor WG are unavailable.
    The policy of bringing players back to the club has always ever been Wenger's. George Graham bought Martin Keown frrom Everton after having sold him to Villa. Fergie brought Mark Hughes back to Man Utd where he subsequently contributed to their first Championship since 1968 and the last time i looked Jermain Defoe was doing OK in his 2nd spell @ Spurs.
    Personally i was disappointed that Wenger opted not to buy back Nicolas Anelka when he was available in the window 2 yrs ago. He had expressed a desire to come back & has since made Chelsea less reliable on Drogbha than they have ever been.

    The departure of Senderos is no great shakes, he has been given ample opportunity to make the position his own but has failed to grasp it.
    Regarding Notts County, if i am not mistaken the Club's anonymous ownership has since changed hands which would imply Sol's decision to leave was a sound one.
    He also brings a bit of leadership to the dressing room that appeared to be lacking during the Everton game. A regular occurance when Almunia is given the captaincy (BTW what is that all about Arsene?)

    My fear, however is that Wenger does not seem to be very active in the transfer market when our need for a striker is immediate. Getting a full season out of RVP was always going to be a bonus. Admittedly,i expected Vela & Eduaurdo to fill the void but they each have a confidence issue at present.
    If the aforementioned purchase of Anelka had been made 2 yrs ago, i am pretty sure we would have been able to sustain the lead we enjoyed for most of that season.
    It would be shame not to load the dice in our favour this time.


  • Comment number 72.

    Funny that many Arsenal "fans" don´t know much about their club.

    The main reason for the return of Campbell is probably hugely linked to the development of the younger players in the centre half position. It is glaringly obvious that Arsenal need cover (in the short term) for that position, Silvestre alone is not enough and Senderos (for whatever reasons) is no longer in Wenger´s plans.

    By signing Campbell for the short term, Wenger is actually showing his faith for the long term in players like Djourou who is injured, and the promising Nordvelt who is currently on loan, not to mention all the other youth and reserve CB´s. If he had signed a "new" younger CB this would of surely hampered the progress of the afore mentioned players, and we all know how much faith AW has in his squad and has repeatedly stated that he would not bring players in that he feels would not fit in with his plans.

    Will Campbell be a good signing?

    For me the jury is still out on that one, he´ll have to prove he´s still got what it takes.
    But Wenger is no mug and I for one see no reason not to trust his judgement. I can definetly understand WHY he may sign him.

  • Comment number 73.

    Keith @ 13.45 - Campbell and Carragher are completely different. Jamie Carragher had one good season and was never actually that good in the first place.....average at best, people just didn't realise the difference between being 'a good footballer' and 'a committed footballer', Carragher being the latter.

    There is a real lack of quality and available centre backs at the moment so this signing makes sense and he can't be worse than Silvestre, who has the turning circle of the QE2. A good young player next year at centre back (PSG's Sakho would be brilliant) should be Wenger's Priority.

    I agree we should get Flammini back too, but to do that Denilson would have to go or we would be overloaded with players in centre midfield....or even better Miguel Veloso, but I doubt he will spend that kind of money!

  • Comment number 74.

    In response to a couple of posts re. Liverpool's Jamie Carragher, I actually think he has rediscovered some of his form after a poor start to the season.

    Lots of talk about Arsenal and a striker. Arsene Wenger has made his admiration for Everton's Louis Saha clear, but injuries will be the problem there. Saha remains top class, but he still gets injuries and this could put suitors off, even if he is available on a free at the end of the season if his contract impasse at Everton continues.

    Do Arsenal fans see Carlton Cole as the answer, or is Bentdner a better bet when he is fit again? Let me know your thoughts.

  • Comment number 75.

    Carlton Cole is good but he needs to be told (like Zola and Ranieri have done with him) any criticism or being out of the and it seems to knock his form, at a top club you are going to get both.

    Bentdner is frustrating he clearly has talent and scored 15 goals last season in all competitions, but, for his size, does not dominate defenders the way he should and when he is bad, he is really bad.

    If it were me, I would like another old war horse, (this is bound to cause controversy/shock), Kevin Davies. Immense in the air, someone we can lump the ball to when needed, will improve us at set pieces, both attacking and defending and in a side like ours he will get chances.

    I also think if Capello is looking for a big striker for the WC then he should have had a look at Davies, as he probably does the job better than Heskey and falls over less!

  • Comment number 76.

    Sorry Phil but my gripe is that how do you aim to convince readers that this is a good signing, when in your reactions to people's thoughts, you support yourself in such a way that even you don't seem totally convinced.

  • Comment number 77.

    @45 Phil, my reference to a distraction is not that Venger is creating one for some kind of strategy, rather that the signing of Campbell himself is a distraction from bringing in a proper player.

    The signing doesn't make perfect sense at all. It smacks entirely of desperation.

    There is no time in this season for him to settle and make any kind of impact.

    By next season he will be brushed aside and forgotten when Venger has a bit more time to prepare properly (arguments about his development policy aside of course).

    Exactly the same thing goes for Vierra at Man City.

  • Comment number 78.

    Carlton Cole is again injured currently. So how does he fill in boots of RVP? If Wenger wants to have short term replacements at forward then I thinks he should go for likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy.

    I have been long saying this on blogs pertaining to transfers - Long term signings for Arsenal should be David Villa. Just for once Mr Wenger, Splash the Cash!!!

  • Comment number 79.

    I don't imagine Saha will displace RVP as first choice Centre Forward so him being injury prone won't be something Arsenal couldn't handle. That said, RVP picks up one or two injuries annually but I feel if we could get Saha for free or on the cheap all the more reason to sign him.

    I'm not too sure about Carlton Cole. He's been quite the player for West Ham but I don't think he's 'Arsenal' enough. Our forwards tend to have great passing, vision, movement and footwork for improving the ball retention for our team. The fact that he's English might prompt West Ham to stick another zero on the end of his price tag.

  • Comment number 80.

    RE New Striker

    I don´t believe Wenger will sign a striker.

    I hope he doesn´t sign Saha, admitedly a great striker,] but one that spends a lot of time on the injured list, but AW does love his french lads.

    Carlton Cole, I think would fit perfectly in the hole left by the absent RvP, though yet again he is an injured player. Being English and playing for a PL team will probably distort his value in the transfer market and Wenger won´t pay inflated prices.

    I´ve read elsewhere that we have been linked with 6ft 8in striker Lacina Traore, this guy is youing, probably wouldn´t cost much and hardly anybody knows a lot about him, giving him all the ingredients of a Wenger signing.

    Finaly, the re entry of Bendtner, if reports are to be believed he should be coming back into the squad within the next fortnight. Wenger has great faith and high expectations for NB52, to be honest, I thought he was starting to look good before his injury and I hope he can continue that form because we do need some height and power up front.

    Arsenal are still the PL´s top scorers even though many are saying we have no real strikers. If the goalscoring feats continue do we really need one?

  • Comment number 81.

    Seriously if we must put this to bed.....

    Sol was extremly quick and strong as a defender, it covered the fact that actually he was never really very good...anyone name a career defining game where he tamed a mega star? Nah you won't find one. Misjudgements in his early years especially with a ball over the top or slips of conceration were covered with a quick turn of pace and the ability to muscle a player off the ball. As the pace fades the mistakes remain and the defender he really is comes through.

    Go buy some Arsene, because you are asking for it if you play him in any game.....I assume becuase Arsenal will have the ball for long periods he expects that Sol will not be under pressure at frequent intervals. Retire with good grace......not a career ending mistake that costs your team

  • Comment number 82.


    HAAAAAHAHAHA

    I'm not laughing at the news -which is hilarious as well- but at McNulty. He's made my day again.

    Phil how do you feel that the league you cover and are paid to build up has become the official craddle of nobodies, foreign leagues' rejects and 35yo have-not-beens? Lovely ain't it. In Spain they must be laughing their heads off. I suggest you change the title imminently to "Zero in the quotient". Or "They've all gone belly-up".



  • Comment number 83.

    77. At 6:25pm on 13 Jan 2010, dogeared wrote:

    The signing doesn't make perfect sense at all. It smacks entirely of desperation.

    There is no time in this season for him to settle and make any kind of impact.

    By next season he will be brushed aside and forgotten when Venger has a bit more time to prepare properly (arguments about his development policy aside of course).

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I assume Wenger expects Arsenal to be fighting for not only the Premiership crown but the Champions League and FA Cup as well.

    If you think him signing for Arsenal is an act of desperation ask yourself this:

    When Arsenal are playing in the knockout stages in Europe, the semis of the FA cup and catching up because of postponements in the Premiership who are you going to field at centre back for those games? Just Gallas anf Vermaelen? Silvestre and Djourou perhaps? or maybe younger, unproven talent like Bartley and Nordveit?

    Thought so.

  • Comment number 84.

    Sol probably would've been better off seeing out his days on the continent or in the US or ME. The tempo would be a better fit to his current physical condition.

    Good positioning will only take you so far, and against some of the premierships quicker players he will be turned and/or ghosted.

    I don't see this as a risk free signing for Arsenal. Owen was risk free for United as he's a proven goalscorer still in his younger years, and more crucially not in a position that demands 100% consistency. Owen only has to takr 1 in 10 chances. Sol will generally have to get it right 10 in 10.

    Is he up to it? Hope for Arsenal he's a third choice absolute emergency selection.

  • Comment number 85.

    To critic77...wow - Kevin Davies at Arsenal. You're right - cue the controversy/shock. That would be a sea-change in Arsene Wenger's thinking. Am I right in thinking Kevin Davies has caused more than the odd moment of irritation to Wenger and his teams over the years? An interesting thought...but got to say I can't see that one.

  • Comment number 86.

    SeanPF - for a supposed BCFC fan that was a hell of a lot of ARSE-nal kissing going on there! As a non-Arsenal fan I couldn't care less what they get up to (apart from fuming on a lucky last minute equaliser last weekend of course).

    On the Sol Campbell move it is on a par with Brian Laws becoming boss at Burnely. In other words football has gone crazy!!!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    Firstly I would just like to state that Phil McNulty is just doing his job and has a right to voice his views, so for all the people piping up with stupid comments you do generally ruin my enjoyment of this blog.
    Also I am sure that he is far more qualified than anyone that comments on here? Am I right?

    Anyway as an Arsenal fan I would indeed like to see a new striker, one that can score goals i.e anyone but Bendtner. Balotelli would be a good signing or even Gomis from Ligue 1. As for Sol, he has seen better days but in Wenger we trust.

  • Comment number 88.

    You're right Phil it would be a huge change in his thinking, but we need something different to add to what we have. Not a complete change in our type of football but just another option and like I said, he would improve us at set pieces and give us the 'plan B'. As things stand, we are out muscled and out-sized every time we defend or attack a set piece with very few who actually attack the ball and without RvP no-one to lump the ball to or cross it to when teams play a 4-6-0 formation against us.

    We have done the same thing, with the same type of player since the 05/06 season and have won nothing....If you keep doing what you're doing, you will keep getting what your getting.....and in our case its nothing.

    I dread the day Wenger leaves us, but I do think he needs to look at adding something slightly different to give us options.

  • Comment number 89.

    Luis Fabiano. A force at the front during Brazil's Confed Cup win and qualifying campaign, excellent in the air and a two footed finisher, exactly what Arsenal need instead of strikers who need truckloads of chances per goal (Bendtner, Adebayor, etc...). I don't imagine Sevilla will sell him in the 'Arsenal price range'.

  • Comment number 90.

    Since this is very odd for Venger, I have a new theory...

    Maybe there was pressure from above to sign an experienced player, so Venger has turned to someone who is both available and has a strong reputation, just to appease them.

  • Comment number 91.

    As Nathan says, can you all stop bashing Phil - and all the other journos for that matter - in their blogs. It really does spoil it. The comments section is supposed to open the floor for discussion, not just for abusing the reporter. Phil does some cracking blogs, and is as entitled to his opinion as us lot, many of whom come out with even more outlandish statements than Phil.

    Getting back to the point, I am not an Arsenal fan but I do love to watch them play. They play some of the slickest, sexy football in the world. But I do believe that they desperately need a striker. A big buy who can knock defenders around a bit, not just run round them. Arsenal could do with a bit more presence at set pieces and other than Vermaelen they don't really have anyone who can get in and scrap.

  • Comment number 92.

    At 1.52 someone wrote that it wasn't long ago he was 2nd fastest in league! Unbelievable, as it must have been a while ago now that we have Lennon, Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and even Walcott is reasonably fast when he gets a game. He weas never quick but he was reasonably skilled but relied so much on his size and heading. Its been a long while since anyone even thought of Campbell in the positive and his strange ways will just lay him open to more ridicule, like saying he'd never sign for the goons and doing it!. And anyone who says that they play sexy slick football needs to get out more, sorry.

    Still, thanks for making me laugh today Campbell, I haven't laughed so much since Adebayor put the wrong shirt on yesterday!

  • Comment number 93.

    Sol Campbell has not been signed to win trophies. That would be stretching wishful thinking too far. He has been bought for 2 reasons.

    1. As cover - Gallas can play both centre half and full back, so bringing in another centre half (for almost free) would give a couple more options in times of defensive injury crises.

    2. Smoke screen - people will be talking about Sol Campbell (an irrelevant subject really since he will not be first team) instead of dicussing acquisitions which could actually give Arsenal strength to win the PL.

    Personally I don't think that Arsenal have the ambition to win the PL. If they walk into a PL win then that would be a bonus. Their ambition stops at top 4. Proof - just look at the player they got in the January window when a top 4 place was in danger - Arshavin. Will they sign an Arshavin to help them win the PL? No. Arsenal should stop keeping thier fans in the dark and not pretend to be serious contenders for the PL title.

  • Comment number 94.

    I never fail to be surprised by the continued hypocrisy demonstrated mainly by English sports writers in relation to an over zealous and mistaken focus on the remuneration and motivation of football players of color at the top level of the game, which has led me to join your blog (the first time that I have ever joined a blog of any description I might add) One of the numerous examples I can cite are Nicholas Anelka and the torrid media scrutiny and name calling (the incredible sulk etc) that he underwent when initially leaving Arsenal and then eventually returning to English football with Chelsea. Look how far removed those times are now, particularly given how well he has once again adapted.
    I noted that your blog on Patrick Viera succinctly concentrated on the salary he would command as a means of undermining his return – this was also a central theme surrounding Nicholas Anelka’s return to the Premiership. However, Sol Campbell’s return is being hailed by one and all, quite rightly I would add, however, I cannot help but think that this is due largely in part – to the fact that he will not be commanding a six figure salary on a weekly basis.
    The individuals referenced are giants in the English game who have delivered consistently from the outset and have gained accolades to reflect their exceptional abilities – yet they always have to prove themselves constantly.
    Remember the times when acerbic writers were waxing lyrical about how much the combined spend on Nicholas Anelka was and that the returns were not commensurate with the outlay? But have the same writers ever sat down to do a tally of the combined spend on the likes of Michael Owen or Robbie Keane, individuals who have not even garnered anything compared to the success of Campbell, Viera or Anelka, but yet continue to be lauded by English sports writers and likewise command huge salaries where ever they go.
    Yes they have been phenomenal failures relating to the signing of players of color e.g. the failed experiments at Middleborough (some of the South American signings in the late 90’s and early 2000 etc), and as seen at Liverpool and at some of the teams in the lower echelons of the Premiership.
    Nonetheless, it is clear to me that writers need to be more responsible when writing articles that can succinctly set out to lead public perception in the wrong direction.
    Finally, at the risk of being deem someone with a chip on my shoulder, I wonder whether in the event that perpetual English golden boy Messer’s David Beckham had signed for Man City whether he might have had to endure the scrutiny relating to fitness etc that was apportioned to Viera. Food for thought…

  • Comment number 95.

    Sol is free so what's not to afford by Arsenal? If he fails then so what? He was part of arguably the best England centre back partnership of recent years and where's Ferdinand at the moment? A fantasy I know but if he can still play, if he is properly motivated, if he can help Arsenal to win the premiership, playing regularly and well, who knows? A not disallowed goal from a corner for England in the world cup finals? In my view he's what Arsenal have been lacking in recent times and I think might still have a lot to offer at league and national level. But hey what do I know?

  • Comment number 96.

    Fascinating response from Anonymous, and an uncomfortably good point at the heart of it.

    Campbell doesn't have to spend a single minute on the pitch for this to work out if it inspires the young Gunners or paves the way for him to be potentially an excellent coach, and I would expect both of these things.

    The idea that Sol Campbell was the fastest centre-back in England when he was at Pompey is one of the funniest things I've read this season though.

  • Comment number 97.

    I can see a down-side, Phil.
    If I was an Arsenal fan I would be concerned about Campbell fitting in with the current squad. Hopefully that is what he has convinced Wenger of in the last three months.

    If the other players see him as a new "authority figure" who is not there on merit, they might become resentful.

    I wonder what Fabregas thinks about this deal.

  • Comment number 98.

    Does Wenger's move for Campbell suggest he has lost faith in Silvestre, which was another signing considered out of character for the Arsenal manager?

    Someone I hope to see add an extra dimension to the rest of Arsenal's season is Theo Walcott. I'm a big fan but been a little concerned when I have seen him this season. How big a contribution can he make in the last four of five months of the campaign?

  • Comment number 99.

    I think Walcott will really shine near the end of the season. Im hoping by the end of the season he can begin to play a more central and pivitol role at the club. He has pace to burn and a great shot on him on his day! I definately think it will be a few years until he actually becomes a world class player. To change the subject on one for the future Im really liking Ramsey at the moment and think he will definately prgress faster than Walcott has atm, providing he doesnt become in jury prone.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think people forget why Campbell left in the first place wasn't good enough. I can remember he end...Wigan game Jason Roberts skims him twice, Campbell walks out at half time..jog your memory:

    "Inside the mind of Sol Campbell"

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/inside-the-mind-of-sol-campbell-411153.html

 

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