Guest writer Iain Anderson, of Why Say Anything fame, gives his take on Sam Allardye taking over at Sunderland.
You may think of Edward Woodward, (the actor, not the genius behind Manchester United’s thrillingly successful transfer policy), or Denzel Washington when you read the above headline. I suppose it all depends in which generation you were born.
The general storyline is that “The Equalizer” is a man you can call on when you are in trouble and the police just won’t do. A one-man A-team, if you like.
West Bromwich Albion’s English chairman, Jeremy Peace, was obviously a fan of the original series with the original Edward Woodward. When he started asking around for the telephone number for The Equalizer he was given a scrap of paper by a shady character in a Birmingham bar. When he rang said number the phone was answered by none other than Tony Pulis.
“Tony, I am in trouble and the police can’t help me, what can you do?”
Pulis, being the magnanimous type that he is, offered to ride into town on his white horse and save the day. All he wanted in return, (unlike The Equalizer, who was incredibly rich and worked purely for job satisfaction), was lots of money and complete control of the club.
Sunderland’s American owner, Ellis Short, didn’t even know there was an English “Equalizer.” He thought Denzel Washington was the real deal. So as soon as Dick Advocaat felt he had stayed long enough to repay the Sunderland fans who bought his wife some flowers, Ellis was searching for the phone number in much the same way as Jeremy Peace had done.
Sitting quietly in his garden, sipping a Jack Daniels, Ellis was surprised by a pigeon landing on the table. On closer inspection he noticed there was a message tied to it’s leg. When he opened the paper he saw a scrawled telephone number. When he rang, the phone was answered by Sam Allardyce.
“Sam, I am in trouble and the police can’t help me, what can you do?”
Allardyce, being the magnanimous type that he is, offered to walk up to Sunderland, single-handedly save the club from relegation and get them qualified for Europe next season. On being asked what he wanted in return Allardyce replied, “nothing, I do this for job satisfaction, I played for Sunderland in a bygone age and now it is time to give something back.” Ellis would have none of this though and promised Sam lots of money and complete control of the club.
Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis have a fair amount in common. As well as both being “The Equalizer”, they have both, in the main, stayed away from the bigger clubs, although Allardyce may argue that his eight months in charge of Newcastle constitutes managing a big club. Neither of them can be said to be particularly successful. What they have both proved themselves to be very good at is not failing.
This is why they are the first two numbers called by clubs in distress. I am not saying that the clubs are not ambitious but, in some cases, they need saving and putting back on the road to success. This is where Allardyce and Pulis come in. Unfortunately, for the two life savers, they tend not to spend too long at one club nowadays. In the past they both had long spells at Bolton and Stoke respectively, but those days are now long gone.
Once saved, the ungrateful clubs tend to want bigger name managers who weren’t interested when the going was tough. Crystal Palace turned to Alan Pardew once their immediate Premier league future was decided and West Ham have appointed Slaven Bilic.
So for a short time our intrepid Equalizers drove off into the distance to await the next distress call which, they both knew, would not be long in arriving.