I like Sam Allardyce, I really do.
If I was the chairman of a team battling against relegation from the Premier League I’d appoint him in a heartbeat.
If I was the owner of a Championship side looking to get into the top flight, ‘Big Sam’ would be high on my wanted manager list.
But manager of England? Do me a favour. He failed at Newcastle and West Ham fans couldn’t wait to run him out of Upton Park.
Allardyce is a fire fighter (yes I know England are on fire, and not in a good way right now). He can organise technically inept, hard-workers into teams that are hard to beat, but what’s on his CV to suggest he can manage, control, inspire or babysit the pampered prima donnas who make up our national team?
I keep hearing he’s an innovative user of sports science and data analysis (as Posh sufferers from Graham Westley’s era know such gobbledegook is over-rated), but not so much about cunning masterplans that change games that are slipping away or tactics that surprise and baffle opponents.
Is Allardyce really the best the three unwise men picking the next England manager can come up with?
Sir Alex Ferguson recommends him apparently, but then he’s a passionate Scot who wouldn’t cross the road to help England.
Allardyce is no Ferguson. He’s no Arsene Wenger either. Hell he’s not even Eddie Howe whose achievement in ensuring Bournemouth were never, ever in any danger of relegation from the Premier League last season was far greater than Allardyce’s late escape with Sunderland.
What sort of England team will Allardyce deliver? I imagine Andy Carroll will be sitting by the phone ready for an immediate call-up. Lee Cattermole will probably start measuring himself up for an England suit.
Allardyce’s mates in the media (and he has a few surprisingly) have told us he’s not a long-ball manager. That he cuts his cloth according to the strengths and weaknesses of his squad.
But that is pure piffle. West Ham didn’t have to resort to hoof-ball and set-piece goals to win promotion from the Championship under Allardyce. They were obvious promotion certainties playing whatever way they chose, but Allardyce decided pragmatism was a far safer option that style.
The Hammers won 2-0 at Posh that season and Allardyce was taunted by the visiting fans all night despite a most comfortable success. His post-match press conference was dominated by him defending his side’s crude, yet effective system.
No, Dan ‘risen without trace’ Ashworth, Martin ‘I’m no football expert’ Glenn and David ‘I voted Platini’ Gill should have looked elsewhere.
If the next manager really had to be English they should have worked harder on getting Howe.
If not then they should have bust the bank to persuade Slaven Bilic, a much better West Ham manager, to take over.