Power balance not shifted: Campbell

For Newcastle's interim manager Rafael Benitez, the question is whether to continue staying with the club or leave.
For Newcastle's interim manager Rafael Benitez, the question is whether to continue staying with the club or leave.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur are on the brink of finishing above Arsenal for the first time in 21 years, but that would not mean a significant change in the balance of power in north London, said their former player Sol Campbell.

Spurs will be runners-up to surprise champions Leicester City if they draw or win tomorrow's final Premier League game at relegated Newcastle United.

Only if Tottenham lose and Arsenal beat relegated visitors Aston Villa will Arsene Wenger's side not finish below their local rivals for the first time since 1995.

However, 41-year-old former England defender Campbell, one of the few players to represent both clubs, said one year does not change anything.

"Power shift is not one season," he told the City AM newspaper. "Power shift is when you've got consistency over a five- or 10-year period. There is no evidence yet.

"There is potential, but everybody has got potential. It's all about making it into reality. Come back to me when it's five or 10 seasons."

Former Spurs captain Campbell, who made an acrimonious move to Arsenal on a free transfer at the end of his contract in 2001, said that in the same circumstances he would still leave Tottenham, but would not join their bitter rivals.

"If I was in the same situation I'd probably move abroad," he said.

"The most exciting football is the Premier League but the best football is in Spain."

For Newcastle's interim manager Rafael Benitez, the question is whether to continue staying with the club or leave.

The Spaniard is strongly tempted by the challenge of leading them out of the Championship but, despite "productive" talks with Lee Charnley, the newly relegated club's managing director, much needs to be negotiated before any decision is reached.

It is understood that Benitez will demand written assurances of promises made during the ongoing discussions but, with his own immediate future seeming inextricably linked to that of the Spaniard, Charnley has a keen interest in persuading Steve McClaren's successor to ignore the break option in his three-year contract.

That enables Benitez to walk away from St James' Park after his first 10 games if Newcastle suffered relegation.

Though that has now happened and tomorrow's match at home to Tottenham is a mere academic footnote, Benitez has been almost overwhelmed by the warmth extended to him on Tyneside and is aware of the potential at one of England's doziest sleeping giants.

Newcastle are understood to be willing to dismantle their failed management model and offer Benitez the sort of control denied to McClaren and Alan Pardew.

Conversely, he had not really envisaged managing in the second tier and is demanding clear, outright, autonomy over assorted club spheres including recruitment as well as the medical department, academy and proposed revamp of the training ground before reaching a final decision.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Power balance not shifted: Campbell'. Print Edition | Subscribe