Sam Allardyce is on the brink of being named England manager, but the Sunderland boss is at the top of a ‘truly tragic’ list, according to Derek Bilton.
I don’t know what has been more depressing in the fallout of England’s latest European Championships debacle.
The way some sections of the media have tried to portray Sam Allardyce as some sort of cultured polymath who can rebuild England. Or the lack of credible names to actually replace Roy Hodgson.
At time of writing Big Sam is a roasting hot favourite with the bookmakers to succeed Hodgson with the smart money on a deal being concluded as early as this week.
This is the same Sam Allardyce who was shunned by the FA over a decade ago on the grounds his type of percentage football – which involves long balls, lots of physicality and being ultra organised defensively – was dead in the water.
The England ‘blueprint’
At the time Spain were busy building their Tiki-Taka dynasty and the message from the suits in charge at the Football Association read that England’s blueprint was to play a game of intelligent possession football from youth level all the way up to the seniors. And then take over the world.
This ‘blueprint’ seems to be proving particularly hard for managers to read however with Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello and more recently Hodgson all trying and failing to whip the national team into shape. All three managers were lavishly salaried flops.
St George’s Park, the 330-acre site that is the new home to the national side, has been open since 2012 and yet we seem further away than ever to making a breakthrough at a major international tournament.
I agree there is a ‘culture of fear’ operating within the England side and that the players can feel suffocated by the sense of expectation at major tournaments.
Allardyce not the answer
Yet I simply cannot agree that Allardyce is the man to lead us out of this malaise. The bottom line is this man is anti-football. He has not won major silverware anywhere despite hovering in and around the top flight for the past 20 years.
Keeping the likes of Bolton, Blackburn and Sunderland in the top flight on a limited budget does not equate to being a master tactician or an innovative thinker.
If ever there was a 2D manager it is Big Sam. Indeed I almost crashed my car the other week listening to Phil Brown on TalkSport hinting that how it would be a proud moment if he was asked to team up with Alladyce again and lead England.
That would be Phil Brown, currently employed by Southend United in League Two. A man who has yet to win a league title or a cup as a manager in his own right.
It really irks me how some sections of the media have been banging the drum for 61-year-old Allardyce in recent times. Claims his ‘no nonsense’ approach will galvanise England’s overpaid, underperforming superstars are not particularly convincing. And neither is the stance that he is the man to follow the FA’s much vaunted blue print.
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Can I ask where is the proof Allardyce is more than a ‘hoof and hope’ merchant? Last term only one side in the Premier League enjoyed less possession than Sunderland over the course of a season. The stats don’t lie. Yes he kept Sunderland up. But his win ratio in management is still around the 40% mark. Bang average.
And with England it should not be about surviving. It should be about thriving and playing football with a swagger. Football that the fans can appreciate. Can a manager who has won a League of Ireland title with Limerick, and a Third Division title with Notts County, 18 years ago, really deliver this?
A real lack of alternatives
Yet almost as depressing at the thought of Allardyce as England boss, and God forbid Phil Brown as his assistant, is the fact that right now there is not an abundant number of alternatives.
After the experiences England had with Sven Goran Eriksson and Capello, Germany’s Jurgen Klinsmann was never going to get the gig. Harry Redknapp? Too old. Eddie Howe? Too young. Glenn Hoddle? Still paying for sins mouthed in his current life. Alan Shearer? Do me a favour.
For all that England is considered the cradle of the beautiful game, we cannot find a manager to nurse the country back to health. And with the profile and the vast amounts of cash swilling around the game in this country at the present time, that is truly tragic.
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