Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Wednesday January 13 2010
Just when you thought a mixture of a paucity of games due to the heavy snowfall in the UK and a lack of transfer activity anywhere in Europe had made for a rather moribund week, Tuesday saw Arsenal`s world go, ahem, bat shit crazy. News began to filter through on the internet yesterday afternoon that Arsenal were indeed negotiating a deal for the return of Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell, three months after walking out on League Two Notts County in a state of disillusion. Sol did then indeed turn up at Upton Park to play for Arsenal Reserves against West Ham`s stiffs. Not to be outdone, Sol then wasn`t the only ex Gooner seen donning the cannon once more. Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor gave an impassioned interview to Sky Sports News- wearing an Arsenal training top! What of the rest of the week then? Arsenal and Manchester United left managerless as Ferguson and Wenger elope together to live out their days hand in hand on the Isle of Lesbos? George Graham buys Kroneke and Usmanov`s shareholdings to become Arsenal`s outright owner? Following a vote of no confidence, Gordon Brown resigns as Prime Minister and is replaced by Kevin Keegan? Paul Merson corrects someone`s grammar on Soccer Saturday?
The signing of Campbell is a very curious one. It reminds me a little of when Liverpool bought Robbie Fowler back in the January transfer window three years ago. Senderos is as good as gone, which means that if Gallas and Vermaelen are simultaneously unavailable, our centre half pairing is Silvestre and Campbell. That`s not likely to frighten any striker with a turn of pace. From Arsenal`s point of view, is a 35 year old Campbell, whose last football was four months ago in League Two really better than Philippe Senderos? On the other hand, it has been clear for quite some time that Senderos has wanted to leave, in which case cover was going to be needed. Wenger has the advantage of having assessed Campbell closely as he has been training with us since October. In that time, Arsene will have been able to assess his levels of fitness and hunger, as well as having been able to assimilate Campbell within the group. He must have had a positive effect at London Colney; Vermaelen for instance is a centre half of similar style and stature to Sol and it is possible that Campbell has been a positive guiding influence. Arsenal are very much in the title race in the second half of the season with a clutch of season defining games on the horizon. Sol has immense experience of such a situation and he has experience of it at this club but, more importantly, he has experience of winning these situations. Most of Arsenal`s current players have only experience of losing such games.
What is clear, is that Campbell must have been working incredibly hard. The manager has often spoken out with regards his aversion to reprising former players, something has clearly pricked his attention on this occasion. I`m usually not the type of person that reads too much into what comes out of a footballer`s mouth, "Action is eloquence" as Shakespeare once memorably put it. But Campbell`s words sound different this time. Usually, when you see Sol interviewed, he has an aloofness and detachment that leaves you struggling to decipher if he`s counting fairies at the bottom of his garden or counting the notes in his wallet. For instance, when questioned as to whether his move to Notts County was fiscally motivated, Campbell gave the bizarrely vague answer, "This time I`m looking football wise- career wise." But when declaring his delight at returning to Arsenal, there is a conviction in his words. He tacitly acknowledges, "The old enthusiasm is back, the hunger is there. In fact, it`s a craving now." He also talks with more directness on this occasion than I`ve ever seen from him, "He (Wenger) has watched me closely after letting me train at Arsenal for nearly two months now. He's not stupid - he wouldn't have taken me back if he didn't like what he has seen and I have worked and worked. I do believe I can contribute." I have to say I`m still not 100% sure about it all, but all I can say, to borrow from the great bard again, is Sol, be great in act as you have been in thought."LD.
Date:Wednesday January 13 2010
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