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By ESPN Staff

Cole slams Arsenal's 'rubbish, lazy' players

Ashley Cole claims he had to keep his thoughts to himself as 'lazy' players allowed Arsenal's 2005/06 Premiership campaign to fall flat.

The Champions League finalists were unable to reproduce their European form in domestic football, eventually finishing fourth in the Premiership - 24 points behind table-toppers Chelsea.

England defender Cole was worried from early on in the season that the results were not coming - but reports in his autobiography, serialised in The Times, that he was unable to get through to his team-mates.

With his old club once again facing early-season struggles, Cole - now with Chelsea - recalls a troubled season.

'The brutal truth is that too many people played for themselves,' he said.

'I saw too much rubbish, lazy players who didn't pull their weight and schoolboy errors.

'Some players were letting us get kicked and allowing team-mates to get bullied. Too many people took constructive criticism way too personally and wouldn't talk to you for a week. So I learnt to say nothing to keep the peace in the dressing room.'

Cole is also critical of the Arsenal board for what he saw as cost-cutting - and fears the future may not be bright under the current regime.

'I can't remember a time when Arsenal have counted their pennies so carefully,' he adds, likening the handling of finances on away trips to the way children might be treated on a school trip.

He is more concerned, however, with the Gunners' prospects since their move from Highbury at the end of last season.

'For things to turn round at the Emirates Stadium, in my view the board will need to put its money where its mouth is and invest in the team, just like it promised Thierry (Henry) it would do,' he suggests.

'I've not seen much evidence of what I think is needed by way of investment in the recent transfer window and, however shrewd (manager) Arsene Wenger is, Arsenal need to build a new team and a new future - not just a new stadium - or they will be letting down their players and fans.'