TEAMtalk’s James Marshment thinks Sol Campbell’s imminent move to Newcastle United is a match made in heaven for both parties.
There may not be too much fuel left in the tank, but when it comes to experience and Premier League know-how, there’s probably few better equipped than Sol Campbell.
Despite being a quiet, humble man, Campbell’s career has courted more controversy than most – from burning effigies when he quit Tottenham for Arsenal, to his more recent ill-fated spell at then-League Two outfit Notts County.
But behind the quiet persona lies a steely determination that has managed to keep Campbell at the very top of his profession (his Meadow Lane escapade aside) for the best part of 18 years.
And it is that experience and defensive understanding that Newcastle will see as vital if they are to make a successful return to the top table of English football. Too often in the past the Magpies have had a soft defensive underbelly that has undermined all their efforts in the attacking third: it started in the Keegan era and it was a tag they never truly shook off throughout their 16-year Premier League tenure.
In Campbell, Newcastle will be hoping they have found the man to help solve all their previous defensive shortcomings. OK, so his pace won’t ever be what it was in his pomp (and at 35 you can forgive that), but Campbell proved in his six months back at Arsenal last term that his reading of the game is second to none and his timing in the tackle remains undiminished.
With Steven Taylor facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, Campbell will be a very welcome addition to the Magpies’ defensive unit.
And he won’t just be there for cover and competition, as I think Campbell will be guaranteed a regular shirt at St James’ Park with one of either Mike Williamson or Fabricio Coloccini his prefered partner. James Perch and Taylor, when fit, provide further cover.
It is that promise of regular first-team football that will also appeal to Campbell. At this stage in many footballers’ careers, they may be thinking about winding down or even retiring. But Campbell’s hunger for the game remains untarnished and his search for a new challenge (proven by his shock move into League Two last summer) could easily revitalise his career and give him another two years at the top.
Off the field, a move to Newcastle makes perfect sense to Campbell too after his wedding last month to his girlfriend of four years Fiona Barratt. Ms Barratt, an interior designer and granddaughter of Sir Lawrence Barratt, founder of Barratt Homes, was born and raised in the North-East and comes from a family of Newcastle supporters. So what better what to start married life than for her husband of just a month to sign for the team she supports?
So, with all things considered, a move to Newcastle United would be a perfect move for both football club and footballer – a match made in heaven, some might say.
And if it all works out, we can look forward to a few new chapters being added to the Sol Campbell story, which is not yet over by any stretch.