Big Sam, Big Flop?

Although it’s not been officially announced by the FA, Sam Allardyce has long been the primary front-runner to replace Roy in the England manager’s seat. If we assume, as BBC has done, that there will be an announcement late this week that he is confirmed, he will leave his role at Sunderland and take the position.

So is this good or bad?

Let’s assume for a moment (as some fans are obviously unable to do, but hang in there) that there are both pros and cons to Allardyce’s appointment.

What do we know about Big Sam?

He’s the Great Escape Artist, the one who keeps people up when all hope is lost. He’s done it so many times, it seems inevitable once he’s hired that he will save the day. But teams have to be in dire circumstances to call his number, and he’s never been given a chance to manage in the big time (hence no major trophies to his name).

If you manage sinking ships, you’re going to be plugging holes, not orchestrating a beautiful football match, so whether or not he can do it is not at issue. We haven’t seen him do much of it. Hardly his fault.

I submit, as others have, that Big Sam may have been unfairly typecast. He proved his capability at a certain role, and now he can’t seem to be cast for anything but that type of role. He wants to stretch his legs, prove his chops, but how does he do this if no one has faith in him?

Answer me this: who came out looking better this season, McClaren, or Allardyce? (Forgive me while I snigger at my own question)

Yeah. Big Sam. Big Sam came out looking WAY better, doing the job he was asked to do and doing it well. Fact is, when you hire him to do a job, impossible thought it might look, he finds a way to do it, and that’s invaluable.

Answer me something else now: Is England in a sorry state? (Sorry, sniggering again)

It’s terrible, but we have to admit that we may need to play some ugly football to claw our way up to the “big” footballing status we feel we deserve. If there’s one thing Big Sam can do, it’s whip a program into shape. You don’t make Great Escapes simply by sticking your fingers in the obvious holes and praying that actually works. You identify problems, plan short and long term solutions to those problems. You design a backbone that will avoid recurrence of those problems, and then you figure out where you’re heading when the holes are permanently plugged, and what you need to do in order to get there.

Easy? No. It’s arduous. It’s a painful creative and organizational process that’s going to be taxing on all parts of the system, including players and staff, but it’s necessary. Because nobody can lie and say what we watched in France this summer was acceptable.

My faith is in Big Sam, maybe not to do miracles and pull a Leicester at his next bit tourney, but to sort out the mess and build something suitable and recognizable as a proper English side. Long overdue, I should think.




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