LONDON (Reuters) - When they hand out the managerial awards, Sol Campbell’s name is unlikely to feature highly but the former England defender deserves one for masterminding one of the season’s great escape acts at Macclesfield Town.
When rookie manager Campbell took charge of the League Two club in November, they were seven points adrift of safety having failed to win any of their opening 13 games of the season.
But the 44-year-old, twice a Premier League champion with Arsenal, began a transformation that saw The Silkmen preserve their Football League status by finishing third from bottom.
Under Campbell, Macclesfield won seven and drew 11 of their remaining league games, surviving by three points.
London-born Campbell had to cut his managerial teeth the hard way with his squad often late in getting their wages.
“It’s brilliant we’ve not been relegated, which was on the cards for a hell of a long time,” Campbell, capped 73 times for England during a stellar career, said.
“As a manager this has been a baptism of fire. This is great getting through it, because everyone was losing their heads but sticking to the plan. There was a lot of pressure on me, too.
“I’ve had no budget — I’ve had to beg, borrow and steal and utilise my contacts to get through.”
Paul Ince, a former England team mate of Campbell, also began his managerial career at Macclesfield, and also performed an escape act to keep them in the Football League.
But whereas Ince quickly moved on, Campbell says he wants to continue his managerial education at Macclesfield.
“For me, I want to start again here and get a pre-season under my belt and have some kind of budget,” Campbell told BBC Radio Five. “I don’t think anyone wanted to take on the job when I took over, but I took it and put everything into it — my heart, my soul and my spirit.
“I have been committed to it, because that’s what you have to do in football. But it’s football, I love it and I love everything about it, it’s my life.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar