Sol Campbell was never the best candidate for the England captaincy – it had nothing to do with the colour of his skin
Former Tottenham and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has come in for plenty of criticism after claiming that he would have been England captain for more than 10 years, had he been white.
Opposition has come from all sides, with even the chairman of anti-racism group Kick it Out criticising Campbell for waiting until he had a book to promote to make his claims.
The fact that he has made his accusations at this time, seven years after he last played for his country and when he has a money-spinning book to publicise, does make it easy to be cynical about Campbell’s claims.
However, I think they should be taken more seriously than perhaps they have been.
I don’t believe that this is something Campbell has made up to sell books, it’s something that has clearly been festering within him for a number of years and needs looking into.
So, let’s have a look at the reasons why Campbell may have only captained his country three times.
For a start, the claim that Campbell would have been captain for 10 years is way off the mark. He only played for England over the course of 11 years and it takes a special player to be awarded captaincy of his country in the first three or four years of their international career.
Secondly, from 2002 onwards, Campbell was far from first-choice for England, with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand often picked ahead of him, so he really couldn’t have been named captain in that time.
In addition, Campbell was simply never the best man for the job. He was a great on-field leader for both Spurs and Arsenal, but the England captaincy requires much more than that from a player.
When Campbell made his debut, the regular England captain was Alan Shearer. Not the best choice ever, but he was a real talisman for the team at that time and, as I have said before, Campbell was inexperienced as an international footballer at that stage.
If Campbell was ever going to establish himself as captain, it would have been in 2000, when Shearer retired from England duty.
I’d imagine that he was a real contender but Sven Goran Eriksson decided to go with David Beckham. On the pitch, Campbell would possibly have been a better choice, but would he have had the same impact in the dressing room? I’m not sure.
The other, just as important part of being England captain is being the public face of the team – and this is where Beckham excelled.
Campbell probably had just as much of an effect on the field without the armband as he would have done with it, but he would have been nowhere near as good at the other things that go with the captaincy.
For these reasons, Beckham, the master diplomat, was the right choice. It had nothing to do with the colour of his skin.
How does Alan Pardew still have a job?
I’m sure that I’m not alone in thinking Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is a very lucky man.
If you or I headbutted somebody at work, I don’t think we could expect to keep our jobs, but Pardew, who is supposed to set the tone for his side, looks set to keep his despite his actions last Saturday.
It was a bizarre incident all-round. There was very little provocation from Hull’s David Meyler, he just seemed to brush past Pardew as he went to collect the ball.
The Newcastle manager’s reaction was way over the top, but then he does have a notoriously short fuse. Just imagine how he would have reacted if his side had been 3-1 down rather than 3-1 ahead!
Newcastle responded almost immediately, fining their manager £100,000, but was that enough? I’m not sure.
How can Pardew possibly tell his players to keep their cool under provocation now? Surely his indiscretion will be thrown back in his face, time and time again.
In addition, it’s not the first time that Pardew has disgraced himself on the touchline. He has previous convictions going back several years – but this is the third time he has come under the spotlight in the last 18 months.
He’s served a ban for pushing an assistant referee in September 2012, while his foul-mouthed rant at Manuel Pellegrini also saw him heavily criticised earlier this season.
Pardew is shaming a very good football club – but Newcastle are equally culpable for not dealing with his behaviour earlier.