CURRENT Sunderland boss, ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce, is to be offered the England job on Thursday, July 21, according to widespread media reports, after beating off an insipid trio of contenders which included Hull City’s Steve Bruce, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, and the USA’s Jurgen Klinsmann.
The man the FA really wanted was Arsene Wenger but, as predicted by EWN in the fallout of England’s harrowing Euro 2016 experience, the Frenchman was having none of it and turned the job down, the perspicacious Arsenal manager plainly appreciating how many beans make five.
In the absence of any outstanding foreign candidate, the poisoned chalice is thus handed to the man who famously remarked that he would walk the league if put in charge of Real Madrid or Inter Milan, but that he would never manage an elite club because his surname is not ‘Allardici.’
The 61-year-old, who has never won a major trophy in a managerial career which has seen him take charge of West Ham, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers, and Notts County, apparently impressed the FA’s three-musketeer recruitment panel of Martin Glenn, Dan Ashworth and David Gill, as he convinced them of his ability to rediscover the “missing identity” of the national team.
The trio are said to have been particularly dazzled by Allardyce’s well-documented use of psychology, after chief executive Glenn had demanded that the new boss should “unashamedly” employ such techniques in order to build mental resolve after he contentiously described the English press as “the most intensely passionate about the game in the world.”
“Speaking to ex-players that have performed well for England it’s a pretty consistent theme, which is resilience under pressure,” prattled Glenn, before going on to answer his own question as he added: “Why is that? We need to understand it better. It’s two things: it’s confidence in there being a match plan and it’s personal resilience especially now at a time of massive social media.”
Whether ‘massive social media’ lies at the heart of England’s woes is open to debate, but the appointment of Allardyce may just turn out to be a masterstroke despite an initially underwhelming feel.
Big Sam has been after this job for years, having written “I should have got it” a decade after being overlooked following Sven-Goran Eriksson’s exit in 2006, when he prepared a detailed Powerpoint presentation only to discover that the chucklesome FA had no such facilities available.
The job went to Steve McClaren as Allardyce headed to Newcastle, but this time around he has been given the nod having long since dispelled the notion that he is a one-dimensional purveyor of roughhouse hoofball, although he is certainly a pragmatist.
Indeed, the man who miraculously kept Sunderland in the Premier League last season is both intelligent and innovative, and there is a sense that the England job has come at the right time in his career, with only Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp having managed more top flight games.
This being England, there are no guarantees, but it is difficult to imagine an Allardyce team losing games to Iceland, failing to see off the worst Russian team in living memory, or describing tactical discussions as “over-rated,” and the man who has spent much of his career defending his methods may be about to prove a lot of people very wrong.