Early Doors

Sol Campbell’s County blues

Early Doors

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Sol Campbell's
introductory press conference as a Notts Couty player was always going to be a
surreal affair.

After all, one of the country's
highest profile footballers, a man with 73 England caps, had turned down
several Premier League clubs to join a side in the fourth tier.

So we expected weird. But what we got was one of the most
surreal pieces of television ED has seen in a long while.

Far from appearing enthused at the challenge facing him, Campbell was morose,
monosyllabic and uncooperative.

A local journalist gave Campbell
the easiest opening gambit; why had he chosen Notts County?

The reply was short and rubbish: "Because of the
future, really."

Asked about his fitness to play, Campbell gave the rather upsetting assessment
that he was "not ground zero."

However hard the assembled journalists tried to coax a
decent answer out of him, Campbell continued to smirk dismissively and provide responses
hardly befitting a man ready to embark on his role as an ambassador for the
club.

Q: "Do you think you'll
play in the Premier League again?"

A: "I dunno."

Q: "What role did Sven-Goran Eriksson play in
persuading you to sign?"

A: "(Laughs) He played a big role, yeah."

Q: "What do you think of Nottingham?"

A: "Nice, very charming."

Q: "Why did you reject the chance to stay in the
Premier League."

A: "I'm
looking more future-wise now."

Q: "Was it because County offered you more money?"

A: "Er... not really, no."

It hardly sounded like a man with faith in his decision to
join Eriksson's bizarre adventure.

It is hard to know whether seeing Campbell reject Aston Villa to join a
fourth-tier side would make Tottenham fans feel better or worse.

His decision to quit White Hart Lane for Highbury might have
been about as popular as a hog roast at a Jewish wedding, but at least it made
sense in terms of collecting silverware.

But this one? Surely madness, whichever way you look at it,

Maybe Campbell
was just sitting there thinking: 'Oh
my God, what have I done?' Certainly
the moment he revealed he would be there for half a decade might have caused
the scales to drop from many players'
eyes.

Campbell's new manager Ian McParland was in an even worse
mood, snapping and snarling like a Glaswegian bouncer.

His patience snapped when Campbell was asked: "Is this club a
well-oiled machine?" and answered: "It will be."

McParland tore in like a rottweiler savaging a fluffy bunny.

"No, it is," he growled. "This club is run
like a Premier League club, top to bottom."

"Does that answer your question?" he added, but in
the aggressive manner of somebody not expecting any answer beyond a timid 'Yes, Sir.'

It ought to have been the greatest moment in Notts County's 147-year history, but instead the press
conference descended into bitterness and acrimony.

It also achieved a remarkable feat. At the start, the only
question was why on earth Sol Campbell would want to sign for Notts County.
By the end, it was equally valid to ask why on earth Notts County
would want to sign Sol Campbell.

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