This article was first published yesterday in our bespoke Sports newsletter The Fixture. You can sign up in seconds to receive it straight to your inbox every weekday here.

Sol Campbell recently added to his ever growing list of grievances about, well, just about everything actually. His latest complaint focused on his absence from the New Year's honours list and the 48-year-old took to GB News to outline the extent of his exasperation.

“I’m up there with all of them [the greats],” wailed Campbell with his usual modesty. “I don’t know why I get overlooked on these kinds of occasions. I’m not the only sporting great that has been overlooked. It would be an honour for me to have a Sir [sic], OBE or MBE for my sport, which I’ve committed to for over two decades,” he added in a of reverse of Groucho Marx's famous 'I wouldn't want to belong to a club that wants me as a member' kind of way.

It's not the first time the former Arsenal, Tottenham and England defender has displayed his lack of self-awareness so publicly. There was that time, of course, that he spent an entire season as Tottenham captain saying on a regular basis that he had no intention of joining Spurs' hated rivals Arsenal right up until a couple of weeks before he joined Arsene Wenger's side.

That was fine, of course. Campbell, as one of the outstanding English centre-halves at the turn of the century, was perfectly entitled to join a club that was a serial challenger in the Premier League especially at the time when Spurs were not.

By the same token, his plaintiff cries and total disbelief when Spurs supporters then suddenly started hounding him for not so much stirring a wasps nest but jumping up and down on it just made him sound delusional.

Fast forward a few years and – now no longer a player but a budding manager – Campbell started to complain about his lack of opportunities as a coach. Again there was the overbearing side to his character on display as he claimed he was “one of the greatest minds in football”. But there was also a salient point in his objections when he told The Guardian in 2013: “Everyone has to ask themselves why there are not more black managers in this country. I’ve spoken to other black players who want to coach and they feel the same, that attitudes here are archaic.”


It was a thought that returned to The Fixture upon hearing the news that Frank Lampard had been dismissed as Chelsea manager yesterday. Why is it that some figures in football appear to be Teflon-coated? Certainly, few managers in recent seasons have been handed the kind of gilded opportunities that Lampard has. He was given a plum job at Derby County as his first gig in football two years after his retirement as a player in 2018, whereas Campbell's earliest opportunity came at Macclesfield in the same year at the age of 44, eight years after he called it quits as a player at Newcastle United.

After missing out on promotion in the Championship play-offs at the English midlands club, Lampard was suddenly being anointed as the next Chelsea boss – after one season as a coach in England's second tier. When it all unravelled at Chelsea, there were plenty of excuses rolled out such as him having to cope with the limitations of a transfer embargo – this despite some of the players in the Chelsea youth set-up being among the best young talents in English football (and including those such as Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham – all either then England or future England internationals). To his credit Lampard guided Chelsea to a fourth place finish and the FA Cup final, which they lost to Arsenal but it was not the coaching feat that it was painted as given the depth of squad available to him.

At the start of the following season – in 2020/21 – Chelsea spent heavily but started badly and never really recovered with Lampard's denouement coming following a eight-game spell in December and January during which the club won just twice, slipped to ninth in the Premier League and he fell out with Marina Granovskaia, the Chelsea director, over transfer policy. It was a squad which, incidentally, won a Champions League a few months later under Thomas Tuchel's guidance.

And so to Everton, a club that has been the very embodiment of a basket case for the best part of two decades. It has been a graveyard for better, more experienced managers than Lampard, of course, but just how Everton arrived at a decision that convinced them he was the man to transform their fortunes is anyone's guess. His tactics proved ineffective and he singularly failed to improve a player under his watch and yet there were still Lampard defenders lining up to make excuses for him in the English press this morning.

It should be the end for Lampard as a manager in English top-flight circles for some time but it probably won't be. Just as it won't be Sol Campbell who is being lined up to replace him in the Goodison Park hotseat – or any other post for that matter – even if his credentials for the job are not much different, as a former Premier League star with a glittering playing career behind him.