What must it be like to be a Manchester United youth prospect? All the best facilities and tutelage, all those illustrious names who’ve gone before you, the invaluable experience and insight you must get cleaning the boots of true genuine legends. Do they still do that? Probably not, but they probably clean something. Their Ferraris aren’t going to clean themselves are they?
Not all of them can make it though, in fact very few of them can, or do. Even if you don’t become the next Ryan Giggs or David Beckham though, you could still be the next Robbie Savage, only with slightly less rubbish hair. Fraizer Campbell seemed on the cusp at one point. He was building momentum and even started the first league game of the 2008-09 season alongside Wayne Rooney. Then – when Dimitar Berbatov arrived from Spurs and Fraizer went the other way in a season long loan deal – it looked like he’d gain some valuable experience with Tottenham, more playing time to mature into the great center forward he was bound to be. But, er, no. It didn’t really happen like that unfortunately.
With Tottenham’s penchent for having 14 strikers at any one time, Campbell was rarely given much of a chance, and when he was, he didn’t grasp it, scoring only thrice in his 22 appearances for the club, mostly from the bench. In June of last year United accepted a bid from Hull after a decent loan spell, but Frazier decided to hold out for a better offer until after the U-21 European Championships, when he eventually signed for Sunderland for a still relatively pricey £5.5m. So far however, he’s failed to improve much on his record at Spurs, by bagging a mere 3 goals so far for the Black Cats, only 2 more than A. Ball, who’s starting to look like a flash in the pan if I’m brutally honest.
So where did it go wrong for Fraizer? Once the next bright young thing with the Premiership Champions, now languishing on the bench mid-table. It hasn’t helped that all the clubs he’s been at have had either settled strike partnerships or a wealth of older, wiser and bigger strikers in the que ahead of him. At Sunderland he finds himself behind the behemoth that is Kenwyne Jones, and trusted less than the undecipherable consistency of Darren Bent. Maybe a smaller club would help to bring the best out of him? He scored 24 in 38 whilst on loan at Royal Antwerp and 15 in 37 with Hull. Maybe that’s more his level?
It’s always hard to fall down the pecking order, especially when you’ve started so far up it, but at 22 he should be looking to get more opportunities before his chance to shine passes him by. It’s probably fair to say he never lived up to his early promise, but there’s still time for him, providing he’s willing to tough it out at somewhere a little less glamorous.