Sol Campbell has promised to get his “hands dirty” after launching his reign as Macclesfield manager with an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat.
The 44-year-old former England defender looked on from the dug-out as his League Two strugglers slipped out of the Checkatrade Trophy at the hands of Newcastle Under-21s, who won 5-3 from the spot after a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.
If Campbell was disappointed with the outcome, he was able to take positives from the performance as he launched his managerial career in front of a crowd of just 1,126 having had to wait for his chance.
He said afterwards: “You have got to keep on knocking on the door. Yes, I had a few – well, more than a few – applications, but you have to keep on knocking on the door and visiting other clubs and seeing how they work.
“For me, that’s what it’s all about, talking to other managers, seeing how they structure things. The England thing, for me, going away with the Under-21s, was great. Sometimes you have just got to keep knocking on the door.
“You can get to the situation where you feel that it isn’t going to happen or when, and is it going to happen, and I’m honoured and I’m relishing the challenge that’s in front of me – and I don’t mind challenges.
“As long as the players see I am in there and I’m going to get my hands dirty, hopefully they’ll respond to that and say, ‘He’s in there as well’ because we want to stay up, we want to push up the league and we are more than capable of doing that.
“We have just got to be focused and keep on. They are cup finals every weekend.”
Campbell, who also made his Tottenham debut as an 18-year-old at St James’, saw Elias Sorensen fire the home side into a 23rd-minute lead before Scott Wilson took the tie to penalties with an equaliser six minutes from time.
The Magpies scored all five of their spot-kicks and keeper Nathan Harker’s save from substitute Ben Stephenson ensured that is was they who progressed to the last 16.
Campbell, who was part of the England teams which went out of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2004 on penalties, was philosophical in defeat, but unbowed as he turned his attention to dragging the Silkmen from the foot of the League Two table.
Asked if it was a culture shock to be operating at a level significantly below that at which he played, he said: “It’s not a culture shock for me at all. I like this football, I get this football.
“You still can play good football in League Two – that’s the way forward, really. It’s all about playing football at the right moments and in the right areas.
“If it needs to go Row Z, it needs to go Row Z, but if we need to get it down and look up and play…
“It’s not a culture shock to me. You can still play football in League Two and win games.”