Alongside Brian Clough’s ill-fated tenure at Leeds United, Sam Allardyce’s time as England boss will go down as one of the most ridiculous managerial stints of all time.
Sam, Sam, Sam. Mother of God. How could you do this to us? How could you do it to yourself? All those years at Limerick, Blackpool, Preston North End climbing the greasy pole to get to the holy grail and you blew it in just 67 days. What were you thinking? It was hard work and determination that got you to this stage of your career, and arrogance and flat out stupidity has cost you.
It’s not exactly like the FA weren’t forewarned about what could happen by appointing the man. There was the Panorama investigation in 2006 where he was implicated in taking bungs. You also had ex-Blackburn manager and Allardyce assistant manager, Steve Kean, being caught on camera in the past calling the man “a f**king crook”. And then Ravel Morrison has tweeted knowingly in the last few days, a reference to the fact that Allardyce tried to pressure him into signing up with his agent Mark Curtis in 2014.
The fact is, like Harry Redknapp before him, Allardyce was damaged goods, a snake waiting in the long grass. And unlike Redknapp, the FA decided to roll the dice this time, only to see that decision bite them square in the ass. Now perhaps, if the English football media weren’t so devious, or the English Football Association weren’t so pious, that wouldn’t be a problem. But, as events have shown, they both are.
So what next for Big Sam? A bucket load of KFC and a long cry into a pint glass of wine? If he’s not suspended by the FA for any period of time, you can pretty much assume he will be looking to restore his managerial reputation, at a club, before the end of the season. And let’s not forget that reputation, particularly in ensuring Premier League survival, is not to be sniffed at.
But the question is, who would lower themselves to that?
Well it’s obvious isn’t it? Sam’s been such a short time out of Wearside, his not insubstantial ass groove is probably still in the office chair. All jokes aside, there’s no underestimating the job that Allardyce did at Sunderland last season. His work in the January transfer window in signing Lamine Koné, Wahbi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff, in particular, was essential in helping them stave off relegation. You also can’t say that Sunderland have necessarily prospered in his absence.
“Moyes needs time” is one cliché so endemic in football, it will probably be etched on the poor man’s gravestone. Considering Sunderland’s traditional slow start and Moyes’ customary strong finish at Everton, this is one theory I actually do subscribe to. But does Ellis Short, Sunderland’s trigger happy chairman, agree with this? And is he willing to risk the possible PR disaster that is coming his way of hiring a dirty manager?
Considering the fact he’s previously hired Paolo Di Canio and also that Allardyce was an exceptionally popular manager of his club only a few months ago, you would be tempted to say yes. So Allardyce to return at Sunderland is a decent shout, but maybe Moyes just needs enough time to show he wont’ recover the current situation first…
Now obviously there’s no position vacant at this particular football club at the moment, but that’s not to say there couldn’t be. Alan Pardew may have felt a bit slighted by the FA’s overlooking of him for the England managerial position in the summer. His Premier League managerial record is admirable (his 5th place position with Newcastle United in 2011-12 was higher than anything Allardyce has achieved), and his football sides have never been as ugly on the eye as his old rival. There’s also the fact that Pardew hasn’t been embroiled in quite so much scandal.
So if, and they are running out of options fast, the FA appoint Pardew, there will be an inevitable stampede to land the Crystal Palace job. And if you’re looking for a proven Premier League manager to fill the void…
If you’re the FA, where do you turn to next? Well, obviously the most fresh-faced, innocent choir boy manager you can find! No, not Gareth Southgate. Step forward Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe. He wouldn’t do the dirt on us, would he? How could he? Look at that face! I mean, he’s probably going to go all Aled Jones and break into a chorus of “We’re walking in the Air” any minute. He’s well spoken, polite, and his sides play an appealing brand of football with reasonable results.
So if we are to believe that the FA will go for Howe, who do the club on the English Riviera punt for? Big Sam? Well I don’t think Jack Wilshere and Harry Arter would necessarily welcome the more, ahem, agricultural style of play, but if you’re a Premier League chairman trying to ensure survival, do you really care?
“Give it Giggsy til the end of the season.” Thus were the wise words of Manchester United celebrity-fan Andy Tate after his beloved Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup by Swansea City three seasons ago. Despite having no previous managerial experience, Manchester United did indeed “Give it Giggsy” for the last four games of the 2013-14 campaign and he’s being hanging around other top flight managers doors like a bad smell ever since.
Now the idea that ANY Premier League club would give such an important position to such an inexperienced manager as Ryan Giggs is beyond me. But then again, that hasn’t stopped the rumours that Swansea were thinking of replacing the beleaguered Francesco Guidolin with the Welsh legend.
So you’d have to ask, legitimately, if Swansea were considering giving such a perilous position to Giggs, and already have given it to Guidolin, then why wouldn’t they consider giving it to another Italian by the name of Allardici? “Well, of course, Swansea have a certain style of play that, you know, some managers may not adhere to” That’s fair enough. They also have a history of in the Premier League they will wish to preserve. So ask yourself, do you value style or survival?
The English managerial position is a poisoned chalice. How many managers can realistically be said to have enhanced or even re-built, their careers afterwards? Bobby Robson? Maybe. But even then, it was an arduous slog after eight years where he was always on the edge of ridicule. Some had to move abroad (Steve McClaren), and some had to go into a lower division (Graham Taylor).
Knowing how badly Allardyce has been tarnished in this escapade, there is the strong possibility he won’t be employed in the Premier League for the foreseeable future. And while it may feel a bit of a step-down to lower himself to the Championship again, he was successful in getting West Ham promoted from the division at his last attempt (2011-12).
But what Championship club would be willing to hire him? One with a lot of money obviously. Plus some prestige and a high fan base. Maybe even a former European Cup winner.
Step forward midlands sleeping giants Aston Villa. The Villains may seem like an appropriate moniker for Sam, and considering they’re currently employing a Champions League-winning manager in Roberto Di Matteo, they don’t lack in pulling power. Unfortunately, seeing as they’re currently 17th in the table, things don’t seem to be working out too well. Don’t you think they could have it so much better with Sam?
So it might take a few months. It might even take a year. But considering his record and relatively young age (61), one thing’s for certain: There’s work out there for Sam Allardyce. It’s just a question of which chairman is brave enough to let him grasp the greasy pole again. Play it again…
Mark Townsend, Pundit Arena
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