The Sporting Chameleon

an absolute cheesecake of a sports blog

From Capello to Ferdinand, why Campbell left County

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FABIO CAPELLO made a classic schoolboy error during Sunday’s Manchester derby.

But when Capello left five minutes before the end, not only did he miss Craig Bellamy’s dramatic equaliser and Michael Owen’s even more dramatic winner, he also triggered a chain of events which has left one of his predecessors with a problem.

Rio Ferdinand, pencilled in for one of England’s starting berths at the World Cup, responded to Capello’s departure with a schoolboy error of his own.

Clearly inspired by his brother Anton’s abject performance for Sunderland against Burnley the previous day, Ferdinand turned in a horror shift.

The equaliser was caused by his wayward pass to Martin Petrov, who set up Bellamy for the goal that City briefly thought had secured them a point.

Ferdinand’s game has been in decline for some time, caused mainly by persistant injury problems.

He has missed 30 of the past 52 games featuring Manchester United and England, only starting back-to-back competitive matches twice since April.

On the occasions when he has been able to play, such as during Sunday’s derby, he has been less than fully fit.

Matthew Upson has been Ferdinand’s usual replacement for England alongside John Terry, but other English centre-backs are jockeying for that position as well.

One such player is Sol Campbell, a winner of two Premier League titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal and Portsmouth and the only Englishman to play in six consecutive major tournaments.*

Campbell won the last of his 73 England caps in Steve McLaren’s fateful finale against Croatia in November 2007, never having been selected by Capello.

He effectively retired from international football when he signed for League 2 Notts County in August and made his debut in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Morecambe, a match almost notable for the best goal ever scored by a goalkeeper.

But just four days after the game Campbell has left Notts County.

This can be attributed to Campbell learning, after his visit to Christie Park, what everyone else knew all along – League 2 is no picnic.

As Campbell has been plying his trade at Fratton Park for the last three seasons, which is essentially a League 2 ground, it should not have come as too big a culture shock.

But Ferdinand’s display once Capello turned his back, gave hope to Campbell that a World Cup slot could be his, if he was back in the Premier League.

He is highly unlikely, though, to be allowed to join a Premier League club before the January transfer window unless he can prove he had a just sporting cause for quitting the Magpies.

Campbell’s departure is a blow for League 2’s glamour factor (if such a thing ever existed), and for the credentials of former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Notts County revolution.

* The 1996, 2000, 2004 European Championships and World Cups in 1998, 2002, 2006.

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