Sol Campbell strikes me as a man floundering to find his way in his way in life. This morning, he claims he wants to return to football, to complete his “unfinished business” with the game. Having taken his UEFA badges through the Welsh FA course – the footballing equivalent of getting your coaching badges from Woolworths, according to some.
Thierry Henry’s headline-grabbing speed was a central plank of his playing days. Maybe he’s as quick at learning? Reading Les Ferdinand criticism of the English FA – the FA as they like to think of themselves – it’s not hard to see why ex-pros choose the Welsh courses. They seem more pragmatic in their approach than the rigid, stiff upper lip English.
It’s a wonder Sir Les didn’t go off and vandalise the FA garden in his fit of piqué.
Campbell declares the pundit’s sofa the easy way out. I’m not sure his manner suits television; too quietly spoken and thoughtful in delivery. I didn’t say thoughtful in general, though. Sol believes he’s learned budgeting from his wife’s business, rhetoric from politics and recognising a good mug of tea from Hackney Marshes. All the ingredients necessary for a solid managerial career.
When you read about John Sheridan ranting at officials, any doubts that Campbell could be a manager are washed away. And having read his autobiography, there were a lot of doubts. It was a litany, in my view, of ‘the world is against me’ stories. A one-man siege mentality, which I suppose is a quality useful in football management.
Sol – A Better Coach Than Top Man?
The main thrust the Heil took this morning is that Sol thinks he can make John Stones a better defender. My three-year-old nephew can make John Stones a better defender; he has the basic principles of ‘if it moves, kick it’ worked out already.
Where were you a few years ago, Sol? Arsenal needed your experience on the coaching staff. Mind you, we let Martin Keown go after a successful 2005/06 Champions League campaign so perhaps Arsenal isn’t the best example to choose.
Parting ways with Keown remains one of Arsène’s great missed opportunities. Yes, a purely defensive coach is ‘American football’ but makes lots of sense from a team sport perspective. It isn’t the accepted way in football but who cares? We benefited greatly from his intervention, and anyone who can make a defence containing Philippe Senderos impregnable is an asset too valuable to lose.
Campbell though is talking the main job, not a hired hand. A stark contrast with his public pronouncement came with Steven Gerrard taking a role with Liverpool’s academy. In what is now the traditional course to a coaching role. Managerial? Sol’s prepared to wade through the mud of League Two or move abroad to work. We’ve heard the latter before and while Portsmouth’s a bit rough, calling it a foreign land is something of a stretch.
Is Campbell management material? Based on the public persona rather than his footballing experience which suggests he could well do the job, no. Unfortunately, it’s a mix of the two which will dictate whether he gets the role. Maybe he could talk to Peter Lim at Valencia; worked for the Neville brothers and frankly, the club is in such a state that he could make a right pig’s ear of the job and still get hired elsewhere.
Santi – Staying A Bit Longer
It will be interesting to see where Sol ends up. Could he teach the Arsenal back four a thing or two? As he points out, footballers should always be prepared to learn, and it would look good on his CV. There’s a frequent criticism of the club that we don’t put enough effort into securing the services of former players beyond taking tours around the stadium. Maybe this is the opportunity.
One man hanging around for another year is Santi Cazorla. He has to; his medical treatment may not be finished although I hasten to add, I hope it is. Cazorla is the problem Wenger has to address. We’re better with him in the side on the face of it – before you factor in opposition, etc. – so renewing makes sense. However, he’s cracking on in football terms and won’t be around forever. Reliance on an ageing player is unbecoming and unwise given his recent injury history.
Improving results is demonstrably necessary if we’re going to challenge for the title but also for the long-term health of the XI. We don’t have a natural replacement for Santi, so the tactics based on his inclusion in the side don’t work without him. It requires flexibility from the manager to make the most of the likes of Ramsey and to a lesser extent Wilshere (when/if he returns) in that role if we’re going to persist with a deep-lying playmaker.
The next four months will tell us more.