This may seem a depressing sentence, one that doesn’t quite seem right to be writing even. Sam Allardyce is the right man for England. There, I said it, it is off my chest.
Madness, you may cry but quite frankly you would be wrong. The Sunderland gaffer has everything needed to make it as an international boss, most importantly the ability to get the best out of pretty darn average footballers.
Just look at the effect he has had on the careers of those that have played under him. This is a man who made Kevin Davies look a potent force in the most competitive league on the planet. Simply put, England do not have top players. They are not a team that can claim to be one of the best in Europe, never mind the world.
Roy Hodgson and his coaching staff tried to command a better style of play from their players, in doing so Hodgson betrayed the principles that make him a good football manager, and he is before anyone discards that notion. What Hodgson is good at is organising a team and making them tough to beat. He became engulfed in all the furore around playing expansive football that is demanded by the media and supporters. That was ultimately his undoing. He stepped into unknown territory and allowed the job to get the better of him, Allardyce will not do that.
The former Bolton manager will stick to what has made him successful. It just so happens that is exactly what the Three Lions require at the moment.
Take one look at the defence and you will see why. England were an absolute wreck at the back, and have been for some time, if they are ever to have anything approaching a decent tournament that must be addressed. Allardyce turned Sunderland from relegation certainties into a well-oiled defensive unit last term and if there had been an ounce of that in France this summer England may have fared ever so slightly better.
There is a snobbery about the game that exists, an obsession with how the game must be played that writes Allardyce off as a contender for the England job. That argument is feeble. For a start his teams do not just lump it long and play off the bits. Yes, they do go direct at times but just because a ball played forward isn’t a five yard pass, it doesn’t mean a team are aimlessly clouting it forwards.
France played pretty direct in Euro 2016, using the presence of Olivier Giroud to good effect, Portugal did the same with Ronaldo, even Germany were more successful when they had Mario Gomez available and they could occasionally miss out the midfield.
One of England’s main issues has been a lack of identity. In their frustratingly short stay in France they looked lost, a team without a real gameplan, they just didn’t really know how they were meant to play. Every successful team needs to know their game inside out. Again, Portugal knew how they had to execute their play in order to be successful, Wales’ amazing summer is even more testament to that theory. Say what you want about Big Sam but he knows how to instil his ethos into his players.
On top of that, and for many probably the most important factor, players seem to run through brick walls for the man from Dudley. You have to go some way to find a player to have played under him for a sustained period that does not buy into his methods. He is at the forefront of the use of technology and nutrition in the game, talk of him as an archaic manager is folly. His troops are always fully behind him, you never quite got the sense under Hodgson that the team totally bought into what he was trying to do, mainly because he was never quite sure himself.
The reaction to the news that Allardyce will be interviewed has seen many question why a man who would not be considered for the Man United or Chelsea job should be considered for the ‘top job in the country’. Well, simply put, the England gig is not the top job in the country anymore. There was once a day when people would be queueing up for the chance of jumping at the chance to be the figurehead of English football, nowadays it is just mercenaries looking for a payday.
Allardyce would most definitely come cheaper, which would help remove the myth that exists around the holiness of the role. It is simply not the job it once was. Take a look at it from the outside and it is the equivalent of managing something akin to a mid-table Premier League outfit, the sooner that is accepted, the better.
The current Black Cats boss is a man who possesses a wealth of Premier League experience, which is pivotal for this role. Every player eligible for selection is playing on these shores, Allardyce knows them all inside out and is perfectly poised to make a cohesive team out of the pieces of the puzzle that previous managers have struggled to put together.
One look at the tournament we have just seen also strengthens the 61-year-old’s hand. International football is not about free-flowing, passing football. That era has gone, Spain had their fun and now it has all settle down again. It is about not losing, being organised and getting results. Portugal are a prime example of how to be successful on the international stage. That incredibly successful Spanish team were so much better organised than many give them credit for too.
Are England going to win a tournament under Sam Allardyce? No, probably not but he is the best man for the job as it stands. It looks like a toss-up between him and Jurgen Klinsmann, a man on the verge of being sacked by the USA over the last six months. There shouldn’t be a contest on that front.
Allardyce is the boss England don’t really want but the one they need right now.
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