Stevenage boss Dino Maamria Q&A: 'I have a lot of respect for Sol Campbell' as Macclesfield loom

PUBLISHED: 16:22 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:56 21 March 2019

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

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Stevenage boss Dino Maamria has been talking to Layth Yousif about a number of topics at his weekly press conference at the club's training ground Bragbury End. Red on for his take on Sol Campbell's ahead of Boro's trip to Macclesfield on Saturday as well as his moving tribute to the late Michael Thalassitis as well as much, much more.

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOOManager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

Sol Campbell was a top quality player. What’s your view on him and players like him being given jobs in league football without having the requisite experience first…?

I think Sol got all his badges. I’ve seen Sol a few times at St George’s Park during courses. Fair play to Sol. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He played at the highest level. Won 73 caps for England but he took arguably the lowest job in the Football League.

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOOManager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

Players like Frank Lampard and Steve Gerrard get jobs further up the leagues or at the top of Scottish football and he could be aggrieved that he didn’t get the top jobs like these players but he’s started at the bottom and backed himself.

I’ve got a lot of respect for him. It’s about backing yourself. He’s gone to Macclesfield and changed them around. He might not be getting the right results but the performances he’s got out of his team certainly compared to where they were at the start of the season before he joined are very positive.

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOOManager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

It will be a difficult test for us on Saturday and I look forward to meeting him again on Saturday.

I know Sol. I’ve interviewed many a time on Arsenal matters. He wrote the forward to my first Arsenal book. He’s a deep thinker on the game. He’s a very interesting bloke. He’s a very honest bloke. He’s a complex character at times - but when you mention former players like Lampard and Gerrard being given jobs higher up the leagues do you think the reason Sol is at Macclesfield and not say managing in the Championship is to do with race or colour?

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOOManager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

It’s not my place to say. I would expect Sol to get a Championship job. He’s got a very good pedigree. He played for top, top managers. He played for England at the highest level. To be fair Paul Ince did the same. He played for Manchester United, Liverpool, in Italy in Serie A for Inter Milan and captained England. He started at Macclesfield. It reminds me of the same journey as Sol. You’ve got to give respect to those players who start at the bottom because despite their colour whether it be black, white or whatever when you’ve played at a top level to then take yourself into a job in League Two demands respect. I’ve got a lot of time for anyone who backs themselves and Sol and Paul who threw themselves into difficult jobs demand respect.

Views on Saturday’s game at Moss Rose then?

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOOManager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

It’s a very important game. Macclesfield are scrapping for their lives. Sol’s done a good job there. They’re in a great position to kick on. Their last performances have been good, especially their last two performances. They were unlucky to lose to MK last time out and they beat Yeovil with ease.

They’re a difficult team and they will be up for it. We’ve got to be on our game and we’ve got to be up for it.

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOOManager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

You’ve celebrated a year as boss of Stevenage FC this week. What have been your highlights?

There’s been a lot of highlights. Winning a number of games late on including victories over Milton Keynes and Oldham at home. I love winning games late on.

When you share the joy of late winners with the fans it’s the best feeling.

Manager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOOManager of Stevenage FC Dino Maamria speaks to The Comet's Layth Yousif before the match with Macclesfield Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

Lowest point?

Losing to Plymouth at their place in the FA Cup after conceding a 96th minute winner was a real low point. We thought we were going to bring them back here for a replay and to concede such a late winner in the cup was a real blow. I was gutted.

You were?! I had to do a ‘rewrite’ in the Home Park press box, delete my 500 word match report and start again from scratch…!

[Laughs] Exactly. That was a difficult day for all of us including the press...I have to say I love the FA Cup and to lose in such a way was horrible. I wanted to go a long way in the FA Cup. You have to be lucky in the cup we got a difficult draw away from home. I thought we’d done enough to earn a draw and Seny Dieng – who’s not with us anymore - who was on loan with us then and became first choice keeper after Paul Farman was injured made a mistake for their goal and it killed us

On a more serious note off the pitch, we ran a Michael Thalassitis tribute at CometSport by former Stevenage captain and legend Mark Roberts. You knew ‘Thala’ didn’t you…?

Yes. I knew him very well. We had him at the club when I was a player. We gave him a pro deal and I worked with him for a few years. He was a fantastic, fantastic kid. He was the heart and soul of the dressing room at a young age. He was a confident lad. The staff loved him. He was a hard-working kid. Always happy and smiling. He was a brilliant kid to work with. We kept in touch over the years and a few of us had our own WhatsApp chat group for years. I was shocked when I heard the news. Shocked. It so sad. I would have never expected that because ‘Thala’ loved life. Mental Health problems are a serious issue and can happen to anyone.

Well said for what it’s worth. Back to football, injury news for Saturday – are the play-offs a possibility?

Injury news I have a full team to choose from. In terms of the play-offs we’re only concentrating on Saturday’s match at Macclesfield which will be tough…sometimes you can look too far ahead. Nothing else matters but our next game. Where we finish in the league is where we will deserve to finish…we’ve had a good season, a solid season. If you look at previous years we’ve been lower than that so it’s been a good season and whether we finish in the top seven or top ten we’ll have done our best.

Have we got a chance of the play-offs? Yes. But I’m not going to get carried away. We just need to win as many games as possible and see where it gets us. Our only focus is on Macclesfield

With relegation-battlers Macclesfield on Saturday followed by Notts County at the Lamex then a trip to Grimsby the week after, that’s surely nine points out of nine [raises eyebrow in irony]…

[Laughs] It’s easy when you say it like that! No they will all be very hard games. We all know that. Even you Layth. I know you cover all the top games in Europe and the Premier League but at this level there is no such thing as an easy game. At our level every game is difficult!

[Laughs] Indeed, indeed. One last one from me, Stevenage are a club that is exploring new commercial ventures. I’m hearing there may be a major sporting event that will be held at the Lamex…

Really? I didn’t hear that! [Smiles] We need revenue. We’ve got the best fans in the country but not as many as we would like so we need to explore new commercial possibilities. We need to grow as a football club. We’re competing against clubs with huge fanbases, huge resources and huge budgets. That’s what we’re up against. That’s why we’ve got to think outside the box and try and bring in revenue from other sources to make sure we’re competitive next season whatever league we’re in. We’re progressing as a football club and I fully back whatever the chairman is trying to do here.

See CometSport on Monday for more on a possible non-football event to be held at the Lamex later this year and follow sports reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29

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