As the dust finally settles on Euro 2016, a tournament boasting the occasional moment of genius and a head-scratching conclusion (how can a team that only won once inside 90 minutes and finish third in their group lift the trophy?), the inquisition continues into England’s failings yet again at a tournament in which they really should have done better in.
Defeat to Iceland is forgivable perhaps, but the nature of the Three Lions’ trip to France was one of unconvincing, disorientated tournament play. Did you notice any other coach making six changes to his side for an apparent ‘dead rubber’ fixture? Of course not, and Wales laughed themselves silly at the top of the Group B.
Roy Hodgson has since picked up his P45, mercifully, and the hunt for his successor is ongoing. Some of the names bandied around in the media and via the bookmakers range from the unqualified to the downright bizarre (yes Glenn Hoddle, that means you), but one that has leapt to prominence over the weekend is that of Big Sam Allardyce.
The Guardian is reporting that he will be interviewed for the position this week following a ringing endorsement from Sir Alex Ferguson, and clearly that appeals to the bookies who have slashed his odds in to as short as 2/1.
But does the current Sunderland chief fit the bill though?
Yes Man? No Thanks
The enduring appeal of Allardyce is that he is a bruising, unforgiving type; an old fashioned football man who pulls no punches. Is that the character that the FA really want? Their last two employments have been a pair of confirmed ‘yes men’ in Steve McClaren and Hodgson, and with Allardyce favouring the ‘my way or the highway’ approach to football management it is hard to see how he would meet the mandate.
But he offers plenty of appeal, and in truth it is surprising that he hasn’t managed a big club in his career (no disrespect meant to West Ham). Big Sam transformed Bolton Wanderers from Championship mediocrity to Premier League top six material, saved Blackburn Rovers from relegation, brought in a number of players that are still contributing to the Hammers’ success to this day and secured Premier League status for Sunderland last season when it looked like a mission impossible. You cannot fault his CV.
What Allardyce will bring to proceedings is better preparation and organisation; key to success in international tournaments as the likes of Iceland and Wales have proven at Euro 2016. He is a known fan of sports science and advanced statistical analysis – not exactly in keeping with his perception as a one dimensional type – and again that progressive approach will surely prepare England for tough assignments ahead; particularly when compared to Hodgson’s seemingly ‘fumbling around in the dark’ style of management.
Perhaps most crucially, Allardyce will not pander to the egos and demands of his ‘star’ players, and will be happy to drop those who are not performing regardless of their stature. You get the feeling he would have selected Danny Drinkwater over Jack Wilshere, as an example, without hesitation.
But will the FA appoint a plain-speaking man who does things his way, who will want to bring in his own support staff and perhaps shake up the status quo at cosy St George’s Park. That could be the only stumbling block.
Is Klins the Mann?
Regular readers of this column will have noted that we backed Jurgen Klinsmann at 25/1 for the vacant post, and he has since been brought into 3/1 with the majority of the bookmakers. Rumours circulating within the press insinuate that he is on a shortlist of contenders, which presumably means he will also be interviewed for the role.
The German ticks all of the boxes: he’s young in managerial terms, progressive and in touch with the modern game – all the things that Hodgson wasn’t ironically, and he also boasts welcome international experience following his spells with his homeland and the USA, where he is doing a sterling job.
Will the English fans take to a foreign manager? Probably not, if Brexit is anything to go by, and they certainly didn’t warm to Fabio Capello in his stint in charge despite the impressive results he helped to return. Once again, it looks like good old English pride is going to be the nation’s downfall.