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Bardsley Believes Players Have Gone Soft

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Are modern players a bunch of mentally frail playboys incapable of dealing with criticism? Phil Bardsley - and just about every Sunderland fan - thinks it's an accusation that can be directed at many.

Clive Mason

Phil Bardsley has put the "daft" casino incident well and truly behind him whilst also criticising the mental frailty of modern professionals.

The long-serving full back, who recently became Sunderland's record Premier League appearance-maker, endured a turbulent summer after a couple of well publicised misdeneanors, but he feels he deserves credit for having the fortitude to bounce back.

He exclusively told The Express:

You do daft things in life and you have to accept the consequences. I dusted myself down, got myself in decent shape and tried to deliver the best I could for the club.

People have opinions, but I've got a rhino skin and I try not to let it affect me. I work very hard all week and do everything I can to prepare. It's water off a duck's back and as long as the fans know I go out there every day and train properly and give my all in games then that's all I can do.

The generation we are in means players are not as tough as they used to be. They used to be able to take more criticism but players these days are a little weaker in that sense. You have got to be thick-skinned but on the other hand you have to step up to the plate when you are required to and we need everyone in the team to do that.

It's easy to criticise when things are going badly, but when we got into the cup final and we were doing well it was the best thing since sliced bread.

As long as you give you best and can go on your summer holidays with your head held high saying 'I gave it everything I had to try and keep us in the Premier League' that's all you can do.

It is about personal pride and now it's all about eight more games to keep our status in the top flight.

Love or loath Phil Bardsley, he probably has been one of the stories of Sunderland's season. Then again, that probably only highlights how rubbish a season it has been.

It is interesting to see him referencing the mental weaknesses of players these days. He is obviously not directly mentioning his teammates, but it's an accusation that fans have made often about this current squad of players. They just don't seem capable of dealing with pressure.