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The Confused Politics of Sol Campbell

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Sven-Göran Eriksson once quipped that there is more politics in football than in politics. There are however, precious few examples of footballers involving themselves in politics in the same way as Imran Khan or Vitali Klitschko. George Weah stood, unsuccessfully, in the 2005 Liberian Presidential election and Roman Pavyluchenko once won a seat on a Russian Regional Council in 2008 running, inexplicably, for Vladamir Putin’s United Russia party. That is approximately the full extent of footballers officially partaking in politics. Fortunately for politics and fortunately for footballers, not many have followed a path into power. This Rubicon might be crossed immanently though, following Sol Campbell’s announcement that he aims to stand as Conservative candidate in the London Mayoral elections.

Campbell began to make a name for himself as a sage on social and economic affairs in the latter months of last year when he was vocal in his opposition to Labour’s proposed Mansion Tax on properties worth over £2 million. Of course, Sol’s £25m London residence lies spectacularly on the other side of this threshold. It was enough to make Campbell quake in his boots, or should I say tasselled loafers, at the thought that the Red Brigades might be about to storm our nation’s great capital. He even referred to Labour as ‘communist’, a nonsensical position to take by any standard. Campbell claims that he wants to enter politics to ‘give something back’. As long as that ‘giving back’ doesn’t involve him making any added contribution to the Exchequer.

Campbell takes the view that the wealth of the talented, speculative or downright lucky is hard earned and should be theirs to keep for good. Any attempts to extract a minor percentage from such small fortunes for redistributive purposes is a blow to ‘aspiration’ according to Campbell, a word uttered with such frequency since the election it is beginning to make me wretch. Fine, let him run on such a plank. The red quilt that covered London in May shows he hasn’t much chance of rallying support behind such laissez faire policies.

This is however, a football website and it is the stands Campbell has taken on footballing issues that seem to reveal some confusion within his world view. For all his faults, and there are many, it is to his credit that he has always been a vocal combatant against racism in football. Moreover, he even began to address the issue of institutional racism within the game which is far more pernicious than the vulgar chants and banana hurling from terraces which have largely been stamped out.

Sadly, or rather typically, this took the self-centred form of claiming he would have been England captain for 10 years were he not black. This claim was laughed out of the room, but he was touching upon an important issue. Why is there such a disparity between the number of black players and the number of black managers? Why so few black faces, or the faces of other minority groups, on boards or within the FA? There has to be an answer to these kinds of question.

How peculiar then, that Campbell should choose to join a party still exorcising itself from the ghost of Enoch Powell. Campbell believes that within football there was a network of pinstriped, buttoned down, elderly straight white males conspiring against him and halting his progress due to the colour of his skin. One can argue as to whether this conspiracy is real or imagined. What Campbell seems blissfully unaware of, either through lack of political literacy or sense of history, is that he is affiliating himself with exactly the sort of people that he believes conspired against him.

He hasn’t a hope in hells chance of success in the Mayoral election so perhaps all such points are moot. However, one feels the strong urge to alert Campbell to this contradiction so that he might re considerer his political alliances. At a meeting earlier this year he challenged to the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth to explain why Gary Neville was fastracked into a coaching role with the England seniors, implying that the FA favoured him because he was white. Ashworth explained, sensibly, that the FA felt Neville was a man of great promise and that they wanted him involved. Campbell’s retort: ‘but I am Sol Campbell’. Referral to oneself in the third person does not always go hand in hand with cloudless mental health.

Sol Campbell is free to take any political position he wishes, but it is surely only a matter of time before he realises the Conservative party have done little to help people who are like him, or grow up on the same streets that he once strode. Campbell after all did attend the memorial service for Stephen Lawrence in 2013, and must be aware of the implications of the McPherson Report that followed his murder which revealed the extent of racist mal practice within the Metropolitan Police.

His venture into politics may be a fad, or an effort to satisfy his need to fulfil a higher purpose, but the confusion within his politics will not go unchallenged. I would argue the contradiction is irreconcilable.

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University of Nottingham History graduate. Freelance sportswriter specialising in Football, Cricket and Golf. Interested in the politics of sport.

Arsenal

It is too soon for Mikel Arteta to be considered for Arsenal job

The 36-year-old has been linked with the Emirates hot seat.

Jake Jackman

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Mikel Arteta
Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal have a huge summer awaiting them as they will need to appoint a successor to Arsene Wenger and rebuild a squad that has missed out on Champions League football for the second season in a row.

It won’t be an easy task and the board must act swiftly to make sure the club are prepared for the 2018/19 campaign.

Considering Wenger’s departure was announced weeks ago, Arsenal should have made progress in their search for a replacement.

There will be a number of names under consideration and it is important that they do their due diligence to ensure they can start to move in the right direction again.

BBC Sport report that Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta is one of the options being considered by the hierarchy at the Emirates Stadium.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

As a former player, he would be well received by the fanbase, but it would represent a huge gamble by the club.

The 36-year-old was part of the playing staff under Arsene Wenger as recently as 2016.

Although he will know the problems that exist at the club, he may struggle to exert the authority to correct them considering many of the current squad were his peers.

It has only been two years since the Spaniard retired from playing and he wouldn’t have expected to be in the running for a job of this size this soon.

Upon retiring, he took up a coaching role at Manchester City and the experience will stand him in good stead to move into management one day.

After all, he is working with one of the best managers of all-time in Pep Guardiola and Arteta will have played a role in the team’s record-breaking Premier League season.

That coupled with his history with Arsenal makes him an attractive left-field option for the Gunners.

However, the size of the risk attached to an appointment means that the club should look elsewhere this summer.

The club will want stability, but first and foremost, they will want success.

The fact that Arteta has no managerial experience means that he would be learning on the job and the North London side can’t afford to allow that.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Arsenal are a huge club and as the man following Arsene Wenger, the next manager will be scrutinised closely.

It would be a job better suited to a manager with experience and know-how at the top level.

The article goes on to mention both Luis Enrique and Massimiliano Allegri. Either of them would be a better appointment for Arsenal at this time, as they have both managed big clubs previously.

For Arteta, the fact that he is being linked to a job like Arsenal shows how highly he is thought of within the game.

If he wants to go into management, he needs to leave Manchester City and gain experience as a number one.

If he does that, whether it be in England or abroad, he could be ready to take the hot-seat at the Emirates Stadium at a later date.

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Exclusive: Havard Nordtveit – Hoffenheim move, Julian Nagelsmann and facing Liverpool

The Norwegian international discussed his time at Hoffenheim and his experience of English clubs.

Mathew Coull

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Havard Nordtveit
Photo: Getty Images

This summer West Ham United utility man Havard Nordtveit called time on his career with the Hammers, after just one season.

Signed from Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer he suffered from the London outfits’ own struggles, the change of stadium and being asked to play out of position at right-back.

After just 21 games for the Hammers, he headed back to Germany, where he had such success previously.

Now, speaking exclusively to The Boot Room, the Norwegian international has discussed working under an exciting new manager, facing Liverpool in the Champions League and coming through the ranks at Arsenal.

Plenty of teams in Germany would have wanted Nordtveit this summer.

He built a fine reputation in the Bundesliga during his time with Gladbach.

In fact, just hours before his July transfer was announced, he was being linked with Bundesliga rivals Hamburg.

In the end, it was Hoffenheim who snapped up the Norwegian. They had just finished fourth in the Bundesliga and it was a brilliant move for the 27-year-old.

(Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images)

But, as the former Hammer explained from Germany, it has been a topsy-turvy season:

“It went well in the first couple of months. But then my games weren’t as good as I was hoping for,” he admitted. “Then obviously I was not good enough for the team. I have been training hard and lately, it has been back to normal again.

“It’s good to be back in Germany and also I needed half a season to get to know the new coach and the new system. I am looking forward to the rest of the campaign.”

Nordtveit started the season playing in the Hoffenheim back three, but found himself out of the squad entirely from mid-December until last month.

Despite his problems, he did not sulk and simply worked hard to get back into the first-team:

“I am not that person,” proclaimed the Norwegian international. “I have been in that situation before with West Ham and Gladbach. It’s all about giving everything you can instead of moaning.

“You have to be positive,” he continued. “This is a team sport. You have to give your best for the team. If that means you are playing or not you know that you will get the chance in the end.”

This season Hoffenheim and Nordtveit were challenging for the Europa League.

However, at the start of the campaign, the Bundesliga outfit were in Champions League action for the first time in their history.

They took on Premier League side Liverpool in the qualifying rounds, with Nordtveit playing in both games.

Liverpool were not yet working under Mohamed Salah power but still proved far too strong for their German opponents over two legs:

“We knew they were strong. With their attacking forwards they are brutal. We had a very good home game. But in the end, it is a little better a feeling to know we went out of the play-offs against a team that reached the finals,” Nordtveit explained, with a sense of vindication for his club’s exit.

“What Klopp has done with the club is massive and also Salah, at this time, maybe is Europe’s best player.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Hoffenheim’s entrance to the Champions League was masterminded by their brilliant young coach Julian Nagelsmann. The 30-year-old is just a few years older than the Norwegian but has proven himself a top manager:

“He is fantastic,” said an excited Nordtveit. “He has great experience and his own style of play. It is a lot of tactics for every new player. Also when I came in then there was a lot of new things I had to learn quite quick.

“I am now starting to see that I learn something in myself to get into the rhythm that he wants. He is like a young, bright, football professor.”

He then gave him high praise, by comparing him to his former Gladbach boss Lucien Favre:

“He reminds me a little bit of Lucien Favre. He thinks about football 24/7. Small details, always, which can mean we take the three points.

“If I could compare him with someone it would be Lucien Favre, which is not a bad comparison.”

Nagelsmann’s clear ability has seen him linked with taking over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The Norwegian came through the ranks at Arsenal, but made it clear that he spent most of his time working with the current Arsenal assistant Steve Bould:

“I spoke with him of course but he was more observing the training. I was more with the reserve team.

“I was more with Steve Bould, the legend. He was quite important for me, a really good guy. I think he was one of the more important guys in Arsenal when I was there.”

Working under the Arsenal legend as a young defender must have been a big learning experience for the Hoffenheim player, who speaks highly of his time at Arsenal:

“I went quite early, about 16,17,” remembered the talented utility man. “It was perhaps the most important choice I did in my career because there I learnt how to do the basics in football.

“I did not play much with the first-team but the experience of training with the first-team and getting to know English football and a really high standard was really important to me.

(Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images)

“From there, when I moved to Germany, I had the perfect base to have an OK career.

“Jack Wilshere was there before he finally broke through to the first-team. We had Wojciech Szczesny now second goalkeeper for Juventus. Many of the players are having big careers.  

“For me and a lot of the players we were quite lucky to have this opportunity.”

But Nordtveit still remembers his time fondly. He still follows the club, where good friend Granit Xhaka is also playing.

The Gunners have been unable to put a smile on the face of Nordtveit by picking up the Europa League trophy in Arsene Wenger’s final year.

However, with London outfit set to compete in the competition again next season, under a new manager, the two could well come face-to-face. 

That would be an opportunity Hoffenheim’s intrepid Norwegian would relish.

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Arsenal hero Patrick Viera would be an underwhelming appointment for Everton

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Photo: Getty Images.

The managerial merry-go-round is warming up ready for another summer of action and it looks increasingly likely that Everton could be involved as fans grow more and more unhappy with the management of Sam Allardyce. What may come as a greater surprise is that the club could turn to Arsenal hero Patrick Viera to replace him.

According to Metro, Viera is admired by Everton owner Farhad Moshiri and fits the profile that the Toffees are looking for of a young and dynamic coach to take over at Goodison Park.

Viera has also been linked with the opportunity to replace his former coach Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, where he remains a legend, but is currently under contact with New York City, part of the Manchester City group.

(during the UEFA Youth League Quarter Final match between AS Roma and Manchester City on March 17, 2015 in Latina, Italy.

The Citizens would reportedly not stand in his way of a Premier League move and Everton would be happy to offer more than the £2 million that he currently earns per year, but it would be a hugely underwhelming appointment for the blue half of Merseyside.

Whilst Viera has done well in Major League Soccer in New York, he has not achieved enough to have caught the eye of such a high profile club were it not for his playing career.

Given the finances reportedly available to the next Everton manager and the huge pressure to get an underperforming squad up to scratch and matching expectations, it would be a big gamble if the club were to put their faith in Viera.

He may well have potential, but it would be a surprise to see a club of the size and resources of Everton being the ones to give Viera his first opportunity as a Premier League coach.

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