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Day: July 17, 2017

On Sol Campbell’s hopes of becoming a manager in English football…

Stepping away from politics, I read an interesting piece in The Guardian today entitled Sol Campbell: ‘I’m prepared to go to a non-league club and just get a win bonus’. The former Spurs, Arsenal and Portsmouth defender is looking to get on to the managerial ladder but has been disappointed that teams aren’t banging on his door to get his attention.

Campbell of course is black and this is part of the story. However a bigger part of the story is he is Sol Campbell. ‘When Sol, walked up, to lift the FA Cup, I was there, I was there…‘ chant Pompey supporters. I count myself among them. That day in 2008 is still as surreal now as it was then. A Portsmouth captain walking up the famous Wembley steps to lift the FA Cup. So I have quite a bit of time for the former England defender. Yet his history does provide clues as to why he isn’t in demand with respect to a managerial position.

First of all he has walked out of clubs before when things were not to his liking. He left Spurs for Arsenal on a Bosman deal. This was of course entirely within his rights and I can still recall when it happened. Everyone expected the press conference to be about Richard Wright’s signing but over walked Campbell with Arsene Wenger. The way it was handled though seemed pretty poor.

He then got his release from Arsenal on a free because he wanted to play abroad, only to turn up at Fratton Park. Look I know Portsea Island is technically an island off the English mainland but I don’t think that it what Arsenal envisioned when they let him out of his contract. It is hard to forget that he signed a five-year deal with Notts County in 2009, only to walk out after one game.

So this has to factor into the minds of perspective employers to some degree. Campbell also has a history of getting involved in issues outside of football for which he should be lauded in my opinion but is something Chairmen will be wary about. Not only do they think it might put off some of their supporters but they will question whether he is totally committed to football.

Remember, Campbell did put his name forward to be the Conservative candidate for the London Mayoral elections in 2016. In 2015, he refused to rule out running in what was then the safe London seat of Kensington in the General Election. The 42 year-old also came out for Brexit primarily because it would limit the amount of foreign players in the English football league. The fact the EU Referendum was about far more than that seemed to pass him by. This means that any potential employer would surely question whether Campbell wants to dedicate himself long-term to the game or if he has other ambitions in life.

If you read the piece though you’ll start to get a sense of why clubs outside of the top tier haven’t offered him even an interview yet. Seemingly he hasn’t applied for any job. The former England international, who has had no managerial experience is waiting for clubs to approach him. It takes quite some arrogance to expect potential employers to come to you when you have no experience for the potential job. This is a key paragraph:

I’ve spoken to a couple of agents to help get the word out that I’m available but so far there’s only been tentative inquiries

Some clubs may be thinking: ‘We don’t want to talk to Sol because of his history,’ but that’s what an interview is for – meet the person and get to know what he’s actually like. If I don’t impress you in an interview then fine, but at least give me that chance. That’s all I want; to talk to a chairman or owner about my philosophy and what I can do for their team. I’m a winner. I love to build. I’ve got great ideas. I’ve got the passion. I’m very diligent, and if given a chance I’ll work my rear end off to be a success.

Surely you have to apply for a job before getting an invitation for an interview?

Then we have to look at another quote later in the piece:

I’ve got to the stage where I don’t want to keep banging the same drum. I’m a doer and I just want to do it. Whatever attitudes, prejudices, stereotypical ideas that are in front of me, I will break them. But the only way I can break them is by getting a job, and if I need to start in the gutter, I will start in the gutter and work my way up. Money isn’t an issue.

How many L1, L2 or non-league owners would like to be referred to as ‘the gutter’ do you think? I’m hypothesising not too many. Sol Campbell’s problem in getting a job isn’t because of institutional racism. I think it is clear that the sport does have issues to address on that front, significant ones at that. With regards to Campbell though, it is much more of a Sol Campbell issue. Is he serious about football? Is he ready to not walk out if things don’t go his way? Does he really think the lower leagues are a gutter? These are all far more important questions to lower league owners than the colour of his skin.

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