Allardyce Lost: Hate to say I (never) told you so
Oh Big Sam, we hardly knew ye! When the news of England’s post-Euros saviour was announced, the thinking man’s football fan raised an eyebrow at the idea that this dour-faced chap from Dudley would be the one who could lead the Three Lions to glory. No one dared dream that he would depart with a 100% record; yet inexplicably it has occurred. In auspicious circumstances Allardyce is out. And how smug I would feel now had I posted the draft I scribbled down a few weeks back, for having researched the man’s career and sensed more than a hint of someone who followed the money rather than his own sense of passion, I noted rather cynical musings about his dash for cash. I look over my notes now and see his record of dropping down divisions for greater paychecks and staying rent-free at a chairman’s residence; in the midst of a career otherwise punctuated by gritty northern industrial towns, the anomaly of a season in Tampa Bay takes on added significance.
Such deeds are obviously not crimes, however the Panorama investigation of almost a decade ago which highlighted his and his son’s capacity for accepting bungs made all the signs point in a sinister direction. I chose not to post for fear of appearing cynical; nowhere near as bad a position as the one that the FA’s recruitment board now find themselves in, having overlooked this warning and learnt their lesson in the bluntest way.
So where do we go now? Having tried the shiny exotic import, honest-cum-useless utilitarian model and no-nonsense domestic tat in recent years a young, fresh approach is needed. Perhaps its naive to believe a manager under-60 and without experience of ‘success’ in the Premier League is fallible to corruption- indeed the Telegraph’s forthcoming exposés may prove the opposite- yet I would love to see Eddie Howe get the job. Doomed to fail perhaps, but what is there to lose? The English national team would find it difficult to sink any lower right now. Gareth Southgate is as uninspiring as they come- for all his faults its probably hard to miss Allardyce at a party- yet should probably be given his chance; Van Gaal, Pellegrini, Hiddink and Redknapp should be avoided at all costs. Whoever it is the most consistently predictable aspect of the whole situation is that we will undoubtedly be asking ourselves the same question in two years time.