The Fall of Big Sam and England’s Oblivion


When Sam Allardyce was announced as Roy Hodgson’s replacement in late July on a two year contract, many saw the move as an explicit message by the FA that they wanted to safeguard the few values of the English game that had been left untarnished by the overbearing influence of an influx of foreign players as well as the management and the interference of the notably corrupt FIFA and UEFA organisations.

Initially, regardless of individual fan reservations of the 61 year old caused by his multiple tenures across the country, some more fruitful than others, many welcomed Allardyce with open arms with the knowledge that he at least represented a stalwart English stiff upper lip attitude towards the game. This had seen him openly oppose the national team’s consideration to emulate another nation’s playing style or management hierarchy, for him it was either the England way or nothing.

While recent revelations have since proven him some part a hypocrite, the Dudley born former Defender had shown his distaste of a dishonest culture imported from Europe, and seemingly cheating as a whole. I personally have fond memories of West Ham’s heated match with Swansea, themselves known for pursuing a Barcelona-esque style of play, when Allardyce could be visibly seen laughing in the face of defender Chico Flores after he seemingly dived near the touchline.

Perhaps he didn’t have a good judge of character to suss out a reporter from all the agents and businessmen a man in the management business would inevitably encounter. A more likely explanation is that reaching what many consider to be the pinnacle of management and what was known to be his dream job caused him to become blinded to the press and to feel somewhat untouchable. The technicalities for what he advocated during the secretly recorded meeting aren’t particularly scandalous in themselves (the practice of 3rd party ownership is widely used throughout Europe and South America), but the principle that the FA was being undermined by their highest paid employee was violated, and with that came a price.

It’s safe to say that if the National Team and English football as a whole seemingly couldn’t hit a lower point after the successive World Cup and European Championship failures, they went one up (or one down) and succeeded in demoralizing those who wear the Three Lions proudly and/or reluctantly further with the scandal that may well have ended Big Sam’s managerial career. But with that comes an opportunity, one that the German Football Organisation snatched gratefully after their own disgrace of Euro 2000, subsequently winning the Ultimate Prize 14 years later.

As reluctant as their brief Head Coach Appointment was to emulate another nation’s footballing approach/strategy, could England really rise from the ashes and ‘bring football home’ so to speak by at least pursuing a centralised youth academy system in order to ease the burden on individual clubs to rear the next generation of British talent? The construction of St. George’s Park is arguably the statement of intent the FA needs, but it is only a start and by no means installs tactical prowess and a common footballing philosophy among the next generation of talented players.

Regarding England’s immediate future, choosing the next Manager is nothing but crucial. While Gareth Southgate (11/10 current bookies’ favourite) seems a reasonable shout for his decorated CV within the national team management, he certainly doesn’t inspire renaissance among a seemingly disillusioned bunch of “superstars”. The key decision the FA will have to make is the clear ideological divide among both fans and establishment alike regarding whether the man at the helm should be English or Foreign. Past experience has shown that foreign managers have been more able to install some form of passion into the squad, but more than not they have been overriding and rebellious themselves, who don’t take kindly when they don’t get their way; as was seen with Capello and his eventual resignation.

On the other hand, English managers while often more submissive to the board that employs them, have either had too many differences with key squad members or simply haven’t installed any form of strategy that has inspired results, especially on the big stage of International Championships. Unfortunately, it seems like the FA have pursed most avenues on the managerial front over the last 10 years with little to no success, so it remains to be seen who should take the helm next.

One thing we can all agree on is potential pay however, the fact that Hodgson was the highest paid manager at the Euros, earning an estimated £3.5m in 2016 is nothing short of  disgrace, pay upwards of seven figures should be reserved through incentives, so that one day an England manager might actually earn that figure because they actually succeeded in the their role.




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