Sven Goran Eriksson yesterday insisted he will not be following Sol Campbell out of Meadow Lane, and expressed his disappointment at the former England defender's walkout from Notts County. Eriksson also questioned Campbell's motives in quitting after playing just one match but the 35-year-old's former club manager, Arsène Wenger, came to Campbell's defence.
Campbell asked to be released from his five-year contract after Saturday's 2-1 League Two defeat at Morecambe. "I feel let down," admitted Eriksson, who had lured Campbell to the club in his first jaw-dropping act as County's director of football.
"I think everybody has the same feeling – the players, the coaching staff, the directors and the fans because he is a big football name and a very important player," Eriksson said.
"I am very disappointed, very much so because we signed him and we thought we would have him for a long time. He would have been an important player for us, but that's life. He didn't like it, so he went."
Eriksson hoped reports that Campbell left because he was disillusioned with the club's rate of progression were inaccurate. "The real reasons, I really don't know," said Eriksson. "He didn't like the training pitch, the dressing room, things like that, but he knew that before because we showed him around before he signed.
"We all know it is a long-term project. Since the new owners came in they have taken on seven or eight new players. You can't build a new training ground in four or five weeks, that takes time. It takes time to make the stadium better, it can't be done over a weekend so I think it's unfair [if that was the reason].
"We know that we are not perfect at this moment, but it's a long project and that project goes on without Sol Campbell. We're all sorry that he has gone but the project is the same, nothing has changed. I am not leaving."
Wenger, who himself experienced a dramatic Campbell walk-out when the player left Highbury in the middle of a match against West Ham in which he had been culpable defensively, said: "Sol is a strong man. When he has his mind on something he goes for it, but he needs a real target. He is strong mentally, strong enough to be a coach [Campbell's long-term ambition].
"After West Ham he came back and played quite well, then he had two or three good years at Portsmouth.
"It is always a cultural shock to go down in levels, players I have spoken to always found it tough for six months. I believe Sol still has it in his locker to play in the Premier League but I am not surprised he found it difficult in League Two."
Wenger added, more generally: "People talk about players' wages, and how they are fortunate to be players. It's true, but still they are human beings with good and bad moments in life, not machines. They are under pressure from an early age. Sometimes that pressure can be too big."
The Football League is still examining the takeover of County by the Switzerland-based consortium, Munto Finance. The league are understood to want to know the identity of the club's owners but Eriksson said he was unconcerned as to who they are.
"I have only met the representatives for the owners but I am sure that everything is all right," he said. "I don't know where the money comes from. That's for the chairman to know, and I am not really interested in it. The important thing is that the money comes."Reuse content