Sam Allardyce? You’ve Got To Be Joking, Right?


Sam Allardyce, England manager?

You’re joking, right? I mean, seriously. That has to be somebody having a laugh. That has to be the internet hoax of all time. Because if that’s true, if that’s true … then somebody at the FA has lost every single one of their marbles.

Wait … you mean that’s serious? England really is on the verge of appointing him manager?

Sweet Jesus. That’s … remarkable.

There’s something nutty about this, something that’s hard to quantify. Even for a Scot like me, this seems truly barmy and we once appointed Craig Brown. That’s what this is. It’s a Craig Brown appointment. One that makes no sense at all. One that scrapes right through the bottom of the barrel and heads for China.

I know things didn’t go well in the Euro finals, but you don’t go from that to this. Since when does moving forward involve taking a retrograde backward step? This is craziness personified. This might be the stupidest idea in a long history of stupid ideas.

Sam Allardyce has good qualities. If you want a bottom table battler, he’s your man. If you want a guy who’s teams can grind out results, he’s the guy and no question about it. He installs that kind of spirit, that dig, in his teams. You want someone who can claw their way out of trouble and it’s his number you would be calling.

But he’s the master of the direct ball game. That doesn’t win things at the highest level. He’s got no record of developing youth; look at his teams. They’re all about experience. Forget seeing the next Golden Generation coming up on his watch; it’s never going to happen.

Those who’s said he’s never had a chance to manage a top club are quite right. Neither have nine tenths of the managers in football; there’s a good reason why. They’ve not got the skill-set required to do so. Neither does he.

This guy has been in the game almost as long as anyone and has never been chosen to lead a top club and has never managed to win a major honour. Never. At eight different English clubs, he’s never won a trophy. His win percentage has never been higher than the 43% he managed at Blackpool in the 1990’s. This isn’t a proven “winner.” This isn’t the calibre of boss you bring in for a national team that thinks of itself as a contender.

People seem happy about this, at least in the media. There’s a feeling that Sam is a “local boy done good” and this is his due. He’s 61. He’s been involved in football his entire adult life. Somewhere during that time he should have “popped” and become hot property. He never did. He never has. He never will. This only ends one way, in disaster, with the media which even now is lauding the appointment castigating him and the FA for it.

It was ever thus. I thought Hodgson was similarly stupid thinking and it ended just as it looked certain to. He was another boss brought in without achieving any earth-shattering success, who some said had just never been given a chance at a top tier side.

Except that he was. He had coached Inter Milan and Liverpool, amongst a slew of others. The arguments in favour of Hodgson were blunted by the fact he’d failed spectacularly to achieve anything of note when that chance had come along.

But he had been deemed worth that opportunity and Sam Allardyce never has.

But Big Sam, as he’s affectionately known, has mates in the media. He has the support network to get an interview and clearly expectations are now low enough that he’s got the job. Gone are the days of England pushing the boat out and going for top tier talent; I never thought Sven Goran Eriksson was that, but Fabio Capello most surely was.

Surrounding those two on all sides, mediocrity.

The trend of selecting English born bosses has been disastrous, but it’s a policy that now seems to be the official one of the FA. Forget that it’s donkeys years since one of them won a top flight title, anywhere … this is the kind of stupidity that reigns at the English FA at the moment.

Allardyce is the ultimate expression of that policy.

He will reputedly earn a salary of £2.5 million a year. That’s more money than he’d ever see in his life at a club team. Big Sam clearly does have some negotiating skills, but it helps if the people you are dealing with are absolute mugs.

Of all the appointments the FA has made over the past 20 years, this has to be the stupidest and the worst. Like Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, Big Sam is now the face of English football to the rest of the world, expressing everything that’s gone wrong with it. In some ways, he’s definitely the right man for this time and place. In other ways, not so much.

This one makes the SFA look like a well run organisation … and I never thought I’d write those words.

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