Sutton player and former Gunner, Craig Eastmond, revealed what it was like getting a sniff of first team action for Arsenal and what he thinks about Arsene Wenger’s contract situation.
Speaking to Glenn Hoddle for the Mail on Sunday recently, the 26-year-old opened up about what it was like sitting in the dressing room with the likes of Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas, who he admitted weren’t his “kind of people”.
“At first, I was nervous, sitting next to those big players,” he said. “I wanted to ask: ‘What was your first game like? What were you going through?’ If I was doing it now I’d try to speak to someone and ask them. Now I tend to speak and not try to hold it in. But there would be Robin van Persie, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, not my kind of people! I’m tiptoeing round.”
Eastmond went on to talk about his loan spells at Yeovil and Colchester, which didn’t exactly go to plan.
“That was one of my lowest points,” he admitted.
“If someone comes in and you’re not part of their plans, there’s nothing you can do. From the moment the manager (Sturrock) came in at Yeovil and said he was bringing in new players, I was thinking: ‘I’ve just left Colchester to come here and now what can I do?’ Every day in training I was thinking: ‘What can I do? Where’s the next door opening for me?’ I couldn’t find anything. I ended up training alone.”
Fortunately, since signing for Sutton, Eastmond has been getting regular football, making 23 National League appearances this season so far and five in the FA Cup.
“You don’t really want to leave a big club, do you?” Eastmond continued. “I wanted to stay but now I’m playing I’m thinking should I have left earlier to get more experience quicker. It is good being at a big club and you learn more. I enjoyed it, but I think I should have left earlier.”
Despite starting afresh at a new club in a new league, Eastmond has been keeping an eye on the Wenger contract situation and although he respects the boss, he understands where the fans are coming from.
“Yeah I definitely think some of the criticism on Wenger is unfair,” he said.
“But the fans obviously like winning stuff and I understand their point of view.
“What Arsene Wenger has done for the club is unbelievable, he’s always finished in the top four and got in the Champions League and doing things for the club.
“I understand fans that are saying it’s time for him to go because they’re not winning the league or cups or anything like that. Obviously fans get frustrated.
“One minute they can be your best friend and the next they are sending you death threats, it’s part of football.”
Eastmond has now come to the end of a three-match ban so could face his former club in the FA Cup on Monday night.