Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Alright, Fat Sol?

We've all been there. You're out and about when someone pulls out a camera and takes a snap which doesn't show you in your best light. Perhaps you were eating, or blowing it all out, or just gurning wildly. Nobody takes that photo and sticks it on their wall (although I'm sure there's a fair few "fat" photos out there stuck to fridges as a motivational diet tool); instead they get consigned to the bin, or deleted, and nobody thinks any more of it.

Anyway, so what?

Well, if you happen to be a Premier League footballer and your season is due to start in less than two weeks time, it's not completely unreasonable for fans to be a bit concerned that the latest player intended to fill a position in defence might go beyond simply filling a hole and in fact get wedged and, like Winnie the Pooh, be unable to get out.

Sol Campbell, a man who, lest we forget has just returned from a summer without a contract and from his honeymoon to a job paying him £35k per week (that's £1,820,000.00 per annum) has taken offence that some people have derided his apparent fat belly. According to Sol, he's now in better shape than he was when he rolled in to Arsenal last January, and he had "a reasonably good end half of the season".

Now, I can hardly criticise someone too much for carrying a few pounds or for letting themselves go a bit on honeymoon, but why did he schedule his wedding to coincide with pre-season if he was desperately keen to play this season?

The saving grace is, of course, that as he wasn't around for pre-season, we haven't paid him, so there's no financial loss (assuming he is fit when he says he will be), but it's still a bit galling to have a footballer who will earn over well over one and a half million pounds over the course of the season complain if people are critical because he's not fit enough to start the first game for his new employers because he has, by his own admission, let himself go over the summer.

It's not dissimilar to turning up to work with a hangover - it's your own fault and chances are that whilst your colleagues may be a little sensitive, to clients and employers it really doesn't attract (or deserve) any sympathy whatsoever.

If Campbell can get himself fit, and turn in a string of stellar performances, then all will be forgiven - and in his defence he does say that he is "knuckling down and want[s] to play [his] football with a great club and a great manager". But turning up out of shape to collect more money in a week than most of us earn a year doesn't exactly earn you much respect with supporters, and however much Sol might complain, that should hardly come as a surprise.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just the press being mischevious. Most fans are too clever to think this rubbish is a collective opinion of the fan base.

1:03 p.m.  
Anonymous Andy the pieman said...

stupid article - let him get on with getting fit - critisise him at the season start not before...

1:24 p.m.  
Anonymous LuckyJim said...


1:40 p.m.  
Blogger Paul said...

Andy, does that mean that if he isn't fit for our first match then it's fair to criticise him?

My point isn't so much that he's carrying some extra weight - and in his defence I'm sure a different photo from an alternative angle, in a different top, would be far more flattering, simply that to get tetchy about it when people gripe is somewhat unnecessary.

Respect needs to be earned, and hopefully through a string of decent performances Campbell's reputation will be made on Tyneside, but if he's not fit enough to start the season (as a result of his own over indulgence) it's hardly a great start.

Anonymous - I've never purported to speak for the collective fan base (I'm not sure anyone ever does), articles on our blog are our views (which we are prepared to put our names to). If you want to stand by your comments, perhaps you would be kind enough to do likewise in future.

2:19 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The press look at these websites, and use them against the club and the fans, have some sence and stop attacking our players.

4:58 p.m.  
Blogger Paul said...

I'm not "attacking our players", I'm simply pointing out that as a professional athlete it's a bit rich for Sol to start complaining if people see a photo of him looking a bit podgy and have a bit of a whinge that he's let himself go.

He's paid to do a job - if he gets fit and does the job, then fantastic, you'll find us more than happy to praise him.

However, if he takes a really long time to get fit because he has let himself go, then don't expect me to be delighted about this fact.

It's not about attacking players, or the club, or anyone else, but it is about holding people to account, which I think makes perfect sense. Don't you?

5:25 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But knowing the press would pick this story up and use it against us, why do it in the first place?

Our fans our our worst ememy, never happy and only happy when critisising, do you think Arsenal or Celtic fans would have attacked their own players for being "fat"?

I dont think so.

6:19 p.m.  
Blogger Ben said...

RE Arsenal and Celtic fans - who's to say?

While deriding Campbell for being "fat" is rather childish, and players shouldn't be sentenced to trial by photo before they've even kicked a ball for us, it's Campbell's subsequent comments that rankle. The facts remain as Paul states: it's disappointing to know that we've signed someone who by his own admission couldn't (or didn't have sufficient self-discipline to) keep himself in good shape over the summer, even when he was trying to secure a new deal. It's also worth saying that, while Campbell was careful to specify a small minority of fans as being "pathetic", it's hardly an auspicious beginning to his relationship with our supporters.

If you think it's irresponsible of us to pass comment on a widely reported news story, then perhaps this isn't the site for you. Thanks very much, though, for flattering us with the implication that we have some kind of sway over what appears in the national media (but we've been around long enough to know that ain't the case and that the influence of blogs is almost always wildly overstated).

And finally, just to echo Paul, at least we and some of our other commenters have got the guts to stand by our comments by name rather than skulking behind a cloak of anonymity. It'd be nice if you had the guts to do the same.

1:33 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just dont get it do you?

Why have ememys when we have fans like you lot.

8:04 a.m.  
Blogger Paul said...

Look - the media published a photo and some comments about Sol looking and being a bit on the heavy side, together with his reaction, which I then commented on. As Ben has pointed out, we don't make the news ourselves.

My principal criticism, such as it is, relates to Campbell's reaction to the comments made, when by his own acknowledgement he's not fit but is now "knuckling down" to get in to shape.

I want Newcastle to be able to call on a fit Sol Campbell. I'd like Chris Hughton to have that option for our first game, but it isn't open to him because Sol timetabled his wedding and honeymoon so that he'd miss most of pre-season training for whichever club he was playing for this summer (whether that was Notts County, Arsenal, us, or whoever). He then let himself go a bit.

He made conscious decisions to do all of this, and as a professional athlete I don't think that was a particularly good move. So I am disappointed in that, but I am far more critical of Sol's reaction that any comments about his weight are "pathetic".

It's far more pathetic to deliberately undermine the team's prospects of success because you've had too much to eat and drink and not done enough exercise over the summer.

He's paid to play football. If he isn't fit to play because he's over indulged then I think it is reasonable to be critical of that and he shouldn't have reacted in the way he did. The situation is all of Sol's own making.

When he gets fit enough to play, should he perform well (which I dearly hope he will), I will be happy to laud him for that.

If you want sycophancy, go and read the official site. If you want our opinion, for better or worse, then stick with us.

11:34 a.m.  

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