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Lawrence honoured by T&T job but mum on details; Sol Campbell appointed assistant coach

New Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence took centre stage today as he was unveiled as head coach by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams. But it is likely to be his assistant coach, former England and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell, who will hog the global spotlight.

Campbell, who stands at six foot two and is built like a boxer, was England’s second youngest captain at the age of 23 and represented Arsenal’s famous “Invincibles” who played unbeaten throughout the Premier Division 2003/04 campaign.

Photo: Former Tottenham, Arsenal and England defender Sulzeer “Sol” Campbell (centre) mentors young enthusiasts at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi on 28 May 2016. (Copyright AFP 2017/Tony Karumba)
Photo: Former Tottenham, Arsenal and England defender Sulzeer “Sol” Campbell (centre) mentors young enthusiasts at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi on 28 May 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Tony Karumba)

Campbell subsequently told CNC3 that he will come to Trinidad on 10 March, which is likely to be weeks after Lawrence holds his first training session with the local-based national squad.

Campbell, who holds a UEFA Pro Licence badge, has never worked as a coach while Lawrence spent six years as one of Roberto Martinez’ three assistant managers at Everton FC and Wigan Athletic but will be cutting his teeth as a head coach with the Soca Warriors.

Lawrence last served as scout to the Belgium National Senior Team before he accepted the job to lead Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday 21 January 2017.

Lawrence’s appointment was made by the TTFA board of directors who overruled their technical committee on the issue.

And there was an inkling of discord over the process today as technical committee chairman Dexter Skeene did not show up for the unveiling as was initially proposed by the TTFA over a week ago.

John-Williams confirmed that Skeene, his vice-chairman Alvin Henderson and Errol Lovell, a former national goalkeeper, all resigned last week, which represents exactly half of the board. He said no reason was given for their resignations and the football body is yet to replace them.

The three remaining technical committee members are: Bertille St Clair, Jinelle James and technical director Muhammad Isa.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (right) chats with National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams on Thursday 26 January 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (right) chats with National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams on Thursday 26 January 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Skeene had recommended Englishman Terry Fenwick as head coach while Henderson and Lovell both endorsed St Lucian Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who was the preferred choice by the technical committee.

Otherwise, Lawrence’s first press conference was a polite, low keyed affair in a relatively small room at the TTFA’s headquarters in the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

It was in stark contrast to the unveiling of Belgian Tom Saintfiet at the Marriott Hotel last month at which John-Williams vowed to sack him by the end of March if he did not deliver four points from two World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico in Port of Spain.

Lawrence refused to disclose the length of his contract with the TTFA or set clear targets for what would constitute success in his job. Instead, he spoke about his desire to bring pride back to the national shirt and to help the Warriors regain their place as the Caribbean’s dominant team.

The lanky six foot seven defender was adjudged the tournament’s MVP when Trinidad and Tobago last won the Caribbean Cup in 2001 under the guidance of the late Ian Porterfield and his assistant Zoran Vranes, who are Scottish and Serbian respectively.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Dennis Lawrence (left) tackles Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) during the 2006 World Cup at the Dortmund stadium on 10 June 2016. Looking on is Brent Sancho. (Copyright AFP 2016/Sven Nackstrand)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Dennis Lawrence (left) tackles Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) during the 2006 World Cup at the Dortmund stadium on 10 June 2016.
Looking on is Brent Sancho.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Sven Nackstrand)

Lawrence, whose headed goal against Bahrain famously took Trinidad and Tobago to the Germany 2006 World Cup, insisted that he still believes the Warriors have the talent to get to the Russia 2018 tournament.

“It is a very difficult but not impossible task,” said Lawrence.

John-Williams made a point of noting that Lawrence is a former W Connection player although the former international defender never represented the “Savonetta Boys” in a competitive fixture but lined up with the squad in an invitational tournament in 2000.

Lawrence did play for Caledonia AIA, Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh, though, as well as Wrexham, Swansea and Crewe Alexandra in the English lower leagues.

Lawrence said all national players would start with a clean slate for his tenure and revealed that he has a good relationship with former captain Kenwyne Jones, who was dropped by Saintfiet.

Jones, who joined United States MLS team Atlanta United for pre-season earlier this month, played alongside Lawrence on the national team for roughly six years—including at the 2006 World Cup.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) congratulates scorer Sheldon Bateau (right) after his 2015 Gold Cup goal against Cuba. Looking on is Andre Boucaud. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) congratulates scorer Sheldon Bateau (right) after his 2015 Gold Cup goal against Cuba.
Looking on is Andre Boucaud.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The TTFA president also revealed that there were no lingering disciplinary matters regarding any of the National Senior Team players from Saintfiet’s short stint in charge.

Saintfiet, as national coach, dropped Triston Hodge, Jomal Williams, Daneil Cyrus and Joevin Jones for disciplinary reasons and claimed that Kevin Molino and Cordell Cato declined the chance to represent their country.

John-Williams confirmed too that the 22 players used by Saintfiet over the course of four international games have still not been paid by the football association, despite giving up their Christmas vacations to wear “Red, Black and White.”

The TTFA president said the players would be paid soon but did not give a firm deadline.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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131 comments

  1. Though a proud Gooner even after today’s painful Ramsey fueled loss to Watford, I am not convinced with the Sol Campbell hire. However, I will keep the faith that Lawrence and Campbell can sure up the defense that gave up 38 goals in 15 games in the last 13 months.

    Hopefully, Yorke and Stern can work with the strikers. We will need someone to get that midfield triangle sorted.

    All hands on deck required to salvage hope for Russia.

    Players must be paid at all cost, even if it means administrators waiting for salary,travel, expense reimbursement, etc.

    Many years ago I ran a small business that did not generate the cash flow to pay my salary regularly but I consistently paid all my employees until the business grew and became so successful that I was able to sell the business at a nice profit. I think most small business men have had similar experience. The point is without the employees being happy and satisfied I could not demand the productivity and efficiency required to make me(the business) successful.

    ***Note do not try the above without an understanding wife/husband/partner!

    Pay the damn players!

  2. TTFA?????????????????????????????????????????????? JOKERS…..

  3. Consider Akeem Roach and Maurice Ford. Fellahs made their senior international caps in December. Had to put up with Saintfiet’s mood swings, get heckled by the crowd… And now the TTFA president won’t even tell them when they will be paid.
    They must be think the national team worse than a minor league side!
    The life of an international athlete yes…

    • Lasana – I doubt the fellas who made their debut under Saintfiet spend their time worrying about when they’ll get paid. I’m sure they’re more focused on whether or not they’ll get another call up. No one plays for the national team primarily for $$$. Most see it as an opportunity to make a contribution to their country and as an opportunity to showcase their talent to the world – Hoping that they’ll be rewarded with a professional contract.

    • That is why there will always be misunderstanding and resentment between “big boys” and the grassroots.
      Those players dipped into their own pockets for spending money in Nicaragua.
      They would have told family and loved ones that their time away for Christmas would reap certain financial dividends.
      Now they can only grit their teeth and read you say money doesn’t matter. And of course they dare not reply.
      Those are professional footballers.
      If the government asks me to write for an Independence Day magazine and promise me a fee for it. You best believe that I would expect my money.
      How does that make me a bad person?

    • Yes Carlos, no one plays football for their country primarily to make money, but when money is part of the contract, you expect to get paid. And even though it allows you to showcase your talent, it also comes with risks such as injury and losing your place at your club. Not paying the players is like a slap in the face.

      Remember in 2005 when the USA players went on strike because of a labor dispute?

      Remember at World Cup 2014 when the Ghanaian players threatened to go on strike until they were paid outstanding monies? The $3 million in cash was then flown in on a private jet.

      Remember the fallout from our 2006 World Cup qualification?

      Remember during the 2014 Caribbean Cup when T&T players threatened to strike because of outstanding monies?

      Remember in late 2015 when T&T players threatened to make themselves unavailable for the Copa America Centenario playoff game against Haiti?

      These issues are detrimental to the preparation and morale of all concerned. So why perpetuate it? Professionalism should not only be demanded of the players, but the administration as well.

    • And that is the strongest point Nigel. Players must be punctual and professional and respectful. But the ttfa can pay whenever they feel like it apparently.
      Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    • Not to mention all the other issues from not being able to get proper training, hotel and travel gear come up.

    • Do cricketers get paid for representing T&T? If so, do they encounter the same problems as our footballers?

    • Dinanath, talk to us on that one…

    • Lasana – Can you clarify that “dip into their own pockets for spending money in Nicaragua” comment? Are you indicating they had to use their own money for meals and incidentals? I’ll be surprised that was the case.

    • Nigel Myers – fair point.

    • Carlos the players are due per diems which they did not get. So whatever the ttfa paid for in terms of meals, they would get.
      On any international trip, you would spend outside of that. Even national youth teams would.

    • A lot of good points but is the TTFA board paid on time and if there are then money is not the problem it is incompetence nothing else

    • You think the TTFA told Dennis Lawrence and Sol Campbell that they will pay them when they are good and ready?

    • Shawn – I believe board members serve pro bono, including the president.

    • Except for when they travel. That’s when board members–president included–get very fat per diems.

  4. Well, the TTFA doesn’t know what kind of coach they want anyway. They ask for certain characteristics in December and something completely different in January. They give certain guidelines to the technical committee for their job hunt and then rip them up and pick someone different.
    So, yeah, we need to just hope we stumbled upon a winning formula.

  5. Could we still get to Russia? Of course. We still have 8 games to play, and anything is possible, nothing is impossible, and so on. But logically, the appointment of a rookie head coach and a rookie assistant coach is more suited to the beginning of a development cycle, or after our chances of WC qualification have been dashed. To me these decisions shows that either the TTFA has already given up on WC 2018, it’s not a top priority, or they just choosing to close dey eyes and roll de dice. The whole firing of Hart and subsequent shenanigans is still a source of bemusement. Basically, we’ll have to hope that Lawrence and Campbell bring a healthy dose of beginner’s luck with them. We’ll need it.

  6. You’re right Shawn. I’d expect Dennis to get the local team together before March 10 because the Pro League ends in about two weeks.
    It seems that he won’t be here for that.

  7. We all have to wait and see my problem is the he is coming in March he should be on a plane right now.

  8. To be fair to R Keane he had moderate success with Sunderland but I don’t think he has the patience for the details of management.

  9. So because Sol Campbell play with arsenal it makes him a Good I swear people in this country so gullible to Shit it’s so pathetic not because you were a good player it guarantees you will be a good coach look at r Keane t Adams r de Boer just to name a few

    • Yuh preaching bredda………not all great or good players make good coaches…..

    • You can be so cynical sometimes. Of course being a good player doesn’t guarantee you being a good coach but first of all he isn’t the coach …he’s the assistant … he’s also a defensive specialist and one of the best seen in the epl … so he’s here to share his experience and mindset which we badly need. Everyone so ready to cut down a local because he’s a rookie …every successful coach or manager was a rookie at some point. We have two defensive oriented coaches who can help our “defensively retarded team”!!..so at least let them try before belittling them nah ….. lawrence was around experienced internationals including the belgium national team which is ranked #4 in the world ….doesn’t these stats count for something??

    • Boss all I said is what the idiot president said in the press conference about Campbell

    • Dion Sosa….I would re-phrase that….”Not all good players make SUCCESSFUL coaches”….the same can be said of Laurence. To date we still don’t truly know how ‘good’ a coach he is but here he stands in the job. He’s been an ‘assistant’ for a long time so he knows the ropes, but hasn’t had much experience handling the ropes himself. I personally wish him all the best, not just for his sake but for the Nation’s sake as well. Sol is a good ‘tactical’ appointment, he adds profile, motivation, anecdotal experience and some international savy to the staff on away games. As an assistant Sol won’t be directly responsible for ‘coaching’ the team. But he may have an impact in other ways and I believe that’s why he was appointed.

  10. They should play beer pong instead

  11. Big Sol, ttfa now looking like they know what they doing.

  12. What do you guys think of the resignations of Dexter Skeene and others? Was it because their first choice of a coach was overruled? Any theories?

  13. I’m excited and happy they chose Dennis Lawrence. Also excited for our assistant coach. Even if we don’t make it to Russia 2018 my mind is in a much better place compared to when they hired Tom Saintfiet.

  14. you should have asked him if he give laurence an ultimitum lie saintfiet

  15. Lasana Liburd i watched the press conference when you asked probed dennis djw looked pissed to hear your name, ha ha

  16. ..Everybody entranced by Campbell – if he comes – but missing the continuing implosion of TTFA.

  17. Hey Lasana, I heard that Dennis was going to introduce 2 English coaches and 1 Dutch coach together with the local coaches. Sol is one so far, any ideas for the others?

  18. Question. Did Lawrence have any input into the selection of Campbell as assistant coach or was this another arbitrary appointment by DJW? I only asked because I have not seen this info anywhere. Maybe I missed it. If Lawrence did not have a say I could see him coaching with a rear view mirror attached to his coaching hat.

  19. Sounds great. I feeling better already! Looking forward to better performances. It’s great to play and represent T&T because you love the game and because you are passionate about the game but… passion and love for the game neither puts food on the table nor assures that players are healthy and motivated. Another thing, we need to hear the questions asked. Next time organize that microphones be available to move around. Otherwise, we looking good so far.

  20. Interesting development with Sol Campbell. Two experience assist coaches would have been better in my opinion but will wait and see how things go not expecting miracles

  21. The sanity of tallest has to be questioned.why at this stage of your coaching career take on a job nobody wants?stay with Belgium,go to the world cup.gain experience, expand your skill set.then guide your home team through the choppy waters. If I am wrong,someone please correct me.

    • He just got a big pay raise as scouting is not a lucrative job. And now he can say he has experience as a head coach.

    • Really, I think you missed my point. And like everyone else,you mentioned money.so 3rd world.

    • Sigh. Yes Wayne. I’m just a third world hack because I pointed to the potential benefits of him coming to Trinidad. And you’re a first world genius I take it.
      Good for you.

    • Again,a simple. Can you expand for me please Wayne? And we can have dialogue,but so full of yourself.peace out.

    • Your question: “… why at this stage of your coaching career take on a job nobody wants?…”
      My answer: “He just got a big pay raise as scouting is not a lucrative job. And now he can say he has experience as a head coach.”
      Your response: “Really, I think you missed my point. And like everyone else,you mentioned money.so 3rd world.”
      Third world thinking is to consider money in making a decision?
      I have a low tolerance for people who like to throw around phrases like “third world” especially when meant to insult their compatriots. Leave that for white supremacists.

  22. The technical committee was at the centre of this farce with Tom Saintfiet and then with the recommendation of Stuart Charles-Fevrier that was overturned for Dennis Lawrence…
    And then they slink away quietly into the night?
    What good is that decision by Dexter Skeene, Alvin Henderson and Errol Lovell?

  23. Lasana, can you keep signing employees as the TTFA is doing and have a long list of outstanding creditors? That’s legal under FIFA rules?

    • Well, it is up to those creditors to take their case to FIFA. Pellerud did and he was paid long before coaches like Russell Latapy and Anton Corneal whose debts began long before Pellerud came here.

  24. Well they get rid of the technical committee which means cutting any info off to the press, its secretive because bobol taking place

  25. Where TTFA getting money to pay these people? And why Campbell would want to come here? Like he get a Carnival costume in the package in lieu of some monies?

  26. Any word on other staff members ? Stern ?

  27. This issue of unpaid salaries seems to always show its ugly head. they could always find money for the white men and dem but never for the local personnel.

  28. They want us to support but continue to be secretive.

  29. Not better way to describe this than BS, BS, and more BS…

  30. Other than his name, it doh necessarily fill me with confidence. Now yuh have a rookie head coach and a rookie assistant coach. Not too long ago de man was running for Mayor of London. We go see.

  31. Sol Campbell is an excellent addition to the coaching staff. I’ll even say he would have been a better choice for head coach, especially if we were planning to select someone with no head coaching experience. Nevertheless, I think Sol will command the respect of our players, probably more so than Dennis.And to think what he’ll be able to do with our back line. Looking forward to a tough, hard nose back line. Now we need a solid assistant coach to help our strikers. Maybe we can land Andy Cole, or Ian Wright, Terry Henry:-) I know I’m dreaming, but it did feel good.

    • I’m surprised that you’re so enthused by Sol when a week ago you were very unimpressed by Lawrence’s CV. And Lawrence is easily more experienced than Sol.
      If there were no concerns about Latapy overshadowing Saintfiet, I don’t see why we should be afraid of Sol overshadowing Dennis either.

    • Lasana – As I said in my comments – if the plan was to go with a coach with no head coaching experience – then I would go with Sol over Dennis. This is because I believe Sol, based on his distinguish playing career, would be able to better command the respect of our players. As I said before, Dennis will have a difficult time commanding the respect of players who, only recently, were his peers. Though with Sol on-board, things might be a bit different.

  32. 4th place booked now, we have a Gunner

  33. Good luck Tallest. You’re so gonna need it. Suggest you have a chat with former coach Hart for some insight as to just what to expect or not.

  34. Paying players cannot be an afterthought if the coach is to succeed. It is tantamount to disrespect. Any other technical staff members named beside Campbell?

  35. seems like some serious business is taking place. hoping for the best. What do you make of it Lasana Liburd?

    • As a former top player, Sol would immediately have the respect of the entire dressing room. I have no idea whether he will make a good coach or not though.
      Considering that Lawrence is inexperienced himself, I was hoping for a seasoned backroom staff.
      It can work. But it is a gamble.
      Hopefully, T&T will benefit from the positive media attention for both men who were legends as players though.

  36. I hope they get their salary!!!!

  37. He just lost the support of every ‘Spurs’ fan in TnT…:-D 😀 😀