Sol Campbell is a Premier League legend. He was part of the Arsenal Invincibles. A brilliant player for England, who won the FA cup four times and the Premier League twice.
Why is it that he had to go to Macclesfield, who are struggling at the bottom of League Two, in order to get a manager’s job? Yet Steven Gerrard can walk into Rangers and Frank Lampard has gone to Derby.
Is it fair? Probably not. But black managers have to overcome different obstacles to white managers.
It’s sad that black managers aren’t getting the opportunities they should be getting. We debated the Rooney Rule a few years ago, that was everywhere for a week, and then it just vanished.
I’ve never been one to play the race card, that’s not me but, when you look at the evidence, it does make you wonder.
I could understand if you looked at black managers and every time they got a job it was a failure, but that’s not the situation at all.
Chris Hughton has done an unbelievable job at Brighton. Look at the work Keith Alexander did at Peterborough and Lincoln, or myself with MK Dons and Blackpool, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink getting Burton promoted. There are some black managers with exceptional CVs.
To be fair to the Macclesfield owner, Bashir, he’s not afraid to employ black managers – he’s had Keith Alexander, myself, and now Sol at Macclesfield – but there are too many chairmen out there who are.
I had to do the same as Sol and drop down the leagues – I’d played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, captained my country, but I struggled to find someone to give me a chance.
I went to Macclesfield, who were 12 points adrift of safety at the time, because I wasn’t getting the chance to manage anywhere else.
So I went there knowing that if I could do the impossible, and keep them up, others wouldn’t be able to ignore me anymore.
That’s what Sol will be thinking. He’ll see this as a chance to establish himself as Sol Campbell the manager, not the player – because those days are gone, that’s in the past. He’s almost having to start again.
It makes me worry about the next generation. If you look at the England Under-21 and Under-19 teams, they’ve got lots of black players. Will they get a chance in management when they finish? I hope it changes, but the statistics say that they won’t.
Sol will be an inspiration to the dressing room
Sol has to understand that he’ll be working with players who won’t be able to do the things he was accustomed to doing as a player. He has to take them for what they are.
But just by him going in there, it will inspire the players and lift the performances by 20%. You can see it already when they went and won at Exeter last week.
He’s got to understand that – the players will be looking to him for inspiration. Wanting answers to get out of the situation they’re in. If he can do that, and keep them up, he’ll have done a fantastic job.
He won’t be under pressure from the owners, he’ll have time to implement his own style.
What I would say to him is make sure you have an assistant or coach who knows League Two. I didn’t have a clue, so I took Ray Mathias with me to Macclesfield, and he was a massive help – I would’ve really struggled without him.
Otherwise, Sol: be yourself, be your own man, don’t try to be something you’re not. Fingers crossed you can get Macclesfield out of it, because they were my first job in management, and they’re very close to my heart.