First they appoint a former England manager as their Director of Football, then they go and sign a former England international, surely this is any clubs dream, but evidently not in the case of Notts County.
We all thought it was too good to be true when the news broke of Sven Goran Eriksson appointment as the new Director of Football at League Two club, but then we heard money was involved, so, it wasn’t such a shock anymore. But Sven being Sven played down the talk about money by stating he was here for the ‘challenge’.
Less than a month into his job Eriksson had already lured Kasper Schmeichel from Manchester City, and former West Brom striker Lee Hughes to Meadow Lane. Big names such as Luis Figo, David Beckham and Patrick Viera were all linked with the League Two side, but just turned out to be ridiculous speculation.
The biggest coup of their history has to have come on the 25th August 2009, when former England, Arsenal, Portsmouth and Tottenham defender Sol Campbell decided to drop down three divisions and join the Magpies on a five-year contract worth £40,000 a week, earning him a cool £10million over the term of his contract.
Campbell who like Sven stated ‘I am here for the future. ‘They’ve got great ambition and I want to be part of it.’ ‘I am delighted to sign with Notts County and I am genuinely excited by what the club is trying to achieve.’ made his debut last weekend for County in their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Morcambe, that turned out to be his first and last game for the club.
Less than a week later Campbell’s contract has been torn up, and he is once again a free agent who will not be playing anymore competitive football until January.
So, what happened? Well, as Andy Cole writes in The Independent today Campbell left because of ‘unkept promises‘. Cole who was also targeted by the former England manager, said no to joining the club, also says:
‘When I heard rumours about the move I phoned him and said, “I can’t believe it. What on earth are you doing?” He said: “It’s true, I’ve signed for Notts County.” I said: “You’re pulling my leg. Sol, they’re not Premier League, they’re not Championship, they are not even League One! What are you doing?” Sol told me that a five-year deal was too good to turn down, not because of the money but because of the other opportunities offered him. Sol, like me, has hopes of a career in and around management.’
Top class players can’t drop down the leagues because they expect too much, be money or standards. Facilities at a League Two club are not going to be the same as that of a Premier League club, and neither is the quality of the football. As David Hytner so eloquently puts it in The Guardian – ‘Campbell was a big fish out of water.’
The Magpies currently lie 8th in League Two on 13 points, 8 behind league leaders Bournemouth, which is not bad considering County finished 19th last season, but its early days yet.
As issues over the clubs ownership enter the spotlight once again, it looks like they won’t be out of the news this season. The man I feel sorry for in all this is the clubs manager, Ian ‘Charlie’ McParland, he is really the forgotten man, with Sven hogging the limelight as usual. We all know who will be credited with the success if Notts County get promoted, Mr. Eriksson of course.
For now it remains to be seen if they will actually get promoted, even more interesting, will Sven be there to see that happen? Mostly likely, after all, women outnumber the men three to one in the city, a statistic that should be right up his street.
Ian Walsh writes at Touchline Views which is part of the twofootedtackle Blog Network.