LONDON: Sam Allardyce has a reputation for bringing the best out of struggling teams which may appear to make him the ideal choice as new England manager in succession to Roy Hodgson after the disastrous Euro 2016 exit at the hands of Iceland.
The Football Association empowered a three-man panel to find the new manager: ceo Martin Glenn, vice-chairman David Gill (former Manchester United ceo) and technical director Dan Ashworth. Once under-21 manager Gareth Southgate had decided he was not interested, they considered Sunderland’s Allardyce, Jurgen Klinsmann (United States) and Hull’s Steve Bruce.
Klinsmann’s prospects were always slim because of the need for an English manager, with memories still fresh of the unhappy experience with Fabio Capello. Bruce had his supporters – and has since quit promoted Hull in a row over transfer cash – but he was always an outsider.
Allardyce was a strong contender for the England job in 2006 after Sven-Goran Eriksson left. However the FA preferred Eriksson’s No2, Steve McClaren. It was reported at the time that the FA’s selection panel had been baffled by Allardyce’s presentation based on the importance of sports science using two lapstops and powerpoint programmes.
Perhaps he was ahead of his time. The next two years will tell.
Critics of the appointment point to Allardyce having won no major trophies and never having managed top clubs or in the Champions League.
However Allardyce’s abilities are widely admired by other managers, not least by Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho. This respect is based not only on his imposing size – the reason for his nickname as ‘Big Sam’ – but on his interest in the latest technological trends and his record for bringing the best out of mediocre teams and players.
This latter demand has been forced upon him because the likes of Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham and Sunderland all had limited budgets for new players. He also has a reputation for pragmatic long-ball football which infuriated West Ham fans but he rescued Sunderland from relegation with 4-3-3 and little Jermain Defoe as main striker.
Asked what he would bring to the job, Allardyce said: “The experience of many years accumulating great coaching techniques and creating a backroom staff that delivers a great service in all departments. You have to give both players and staff the confidence to produce the qualities they have.”