NAIROBI, Kenya, May 27 – Arsenal legendary defender Sol Campbell believes Arsene Wenger is not the cause for the Gunners’ failure to win the 2015-16 English Premier League title, but blamed injuries that befall the team.
Campbell was speaking to Capital Sport Friday in Nairobi where he is to conduct a coaching clinic organised by betting firm SportPesa as part of their partnership with Arsenal.
“Look at Arsenal, the key players got injured for example Jack Wilshere, who got injured for such a long time making us miss that drive in the midfield. Sanchez (Alexis) came back from South America and he wasn’t really on it, so we just need to get everybody fit,” the former England centre-back said.
“Next year it will be difficult because I don’t think that’s going to happen again, having four teams not playing well in the half season. Fans might say it was the easiest time for us to win the Premier League but it slipped us. We will go for it next season in a big way.”
Campbell was in Wenger’s ‘Invincible’ squad that last lifted the Premier League title during the 2003-04 season but despite going 12 years without reclaiming it, the 41-year-old believes the French tactician should be commended for transforming Arsenal.
“I don’t think Wenger is the problem, Arsene has done a wonderful job, he joined the club from Japan via Monaco when nobody knew him and he is behind Arsenal’s evolution. He said we need a new training ground he got it sourced out when no one had training ground at the time.”
“He extended at least the career of five players and they were successful. He has done a lot of things, changed philosophy of the team and with that, I think we should commend him for the job. 19 years of getting into the Champions League, that’s an accolade, yes we have to win but there is always one winner. We just need luck and hopefully we can get it all together and go for it next season,” Campbell, who won two FA Cup with Arsenal disclosed.
Wenger faced criticism from a section of fans, who booed him towards the end of the season after Leicester City came from behind to snatch the title and see Arsenal finish their campaign without silverware.
“This Premiership has been turned upside-down and it provided a perfect stone for Leicester. They surprised everybody but they had a little bit of luck because they didn’t have any big injuries.”
– Mourinho to United –
With Jose Mourinho returning to England as Manchester United manager, Campbell said the ‘Special One’ as he is fondly referred by his fans will have a big say in the Premier League.
However, the Arsenal legend outlined that Mourinho is not the calibre of Manchester United, going by their previous managers.
“Manchester United probably looked at Mourinho’s history where he usually delivers a title for a club where he has been for more than three years. Personally I don’t think he is the Manchester United kind of manager but they have come to a different place and they need that type of manager who can deliver, whatever he does is not a thing but he will have a big say in the Premiership,” Campbell stated.
“They settled on him because there is no one really out there to fit in their bill, they tried to go with van Gaal but it didn’t work out. Bringing Mourinho means they will look to win the Premier League. He will shake things up and Untied will definitely be competitive next season.”
Campbell is remembered by the Gunners fans for his only goal at the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final where Arsenal lost 2-1 to five-time champions Barcelona.
During his stay at Arsenal, the central defender lifted two Premier League titles (2001-02, 2003-04), three FA Cups (2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05) and an FA Community Shield (2004).
Before joining Arsenal in 2001, Campbell spent nine years at Tottenham Hotspur, where he scored 10 goals in 255 appearances, and captaining the team to victory in the 1999 Football League Cup Final against Leicester City.
He picked out Liverpool defender Kolo Toure as the favourite defender he has partnered with when the two played for Arsenal while Rio Ferdinand was his best at the England national team.
Campbell is hoping to join the coaching industry but at the moment is concentrating on running an interior design business with his wife, Fiona.
“I have coaching credentials so I can coach around the world at any level. I’m looking around and seeing the opportunities that are available. Eventually football might grab me, but I want to start it slowly because if go into football straight away it puts so much pressure in your family now that they are used to see me, but once you go into football you go deep into football.”