Big Sam and England: oh, won’t you stay?

Jake's take on Big Sam: 'another prep-season threatening to go tits up'
Jake’s take on Big Sam: ‘another prep-season threatening to go belly up’

So within a day of an unnamed Sunderland AFC source assuring The Northern Echo and presumably others that Sam Allardyce’s abrupt departure from the Austrian trainingcamp had nothing to do with the England job, he pops up at the Cheshire home of David Gill, FA vice-chairman and one of the three wise men deciding who should follow Roy Hodgson.

Also present, along with what the Daily Mail calls Sam’s “£1,000 Louis Vuitton man-bag” containing his presentation, were the other two members of the selection panel. In other words, it was a job interview

We shall leave to one side what that tells us about the probity of one or more unnamed Sunderland source.

If Sam departs, I shall bear him no ill will. I would not even blame Ellis Short or Martin Bain, whether or not it is true as reported that the manager has been deeply frustrated and angered by the club’s approach – by implication niggardly – to the necessity to strengthen the squad and, at last, avoid a relegation-haunted season. He did publicly state that his patience was wearing “very thin” without actually pointing a finger.

The simple fact is that Sam has long coveted the England job and would find it almost impossible to resist even if he had been given an open cheque to recruit for SAFC without the need to consult Short or Bain.

He did the job he was appointed for last season. He seemed better equipped than any of his recent predecessors to turn that dramatic success, which they had also achieved, into lasting benefit for the club.

But if Sam truly believes there is jo more important role in football than to manage England, and that it is something he desperately wants a crack at, we have to take it on the chin and pray Short and Bain have something special up their sleeves when it comes to replacing him.

M Salut at ESPN FC:

As for Allardyce, the realistic approach is to be prepared for the worst. Sir Alex Ferguson is among the authoritative football voices to support Allardyce for the England job. He must be considered a serious contender.

But his loss would be a severe blow. Not everyone was wholly convinced when he replaced Dick Advocaat last October, but the steady progress he made, especially with under-performing players such as Patrick van Aanholt and Yedlin, was extraordinary. Here at last seemed to be a manager with the resolve and methodology to rid the club of the season-after-season ritual of threatened

Whether Sam is right to long for this particular job is another matter.

Compare and contrast: with as wretched a record in the Premier League of the past few years as any club that didn’t also go down, Sunderland nevertheless have magnificent, loyal support.

Our average home gate of 43,000 last season was the sixth highest in the land, comfortably ahead of Chelsea, Everton and Spurs.

Their stadiums admittedly have smaller capacities but just think what our gates would be like if we had the relative or absolute success of any of them.

If Sam based his decision on the quality of support, surely there could be only one winner.

Consider his view on Sunderland fans, expressed just a few days ago …

And then there’s England.

Let’s not fall into the trap of dismissing them all as a bunch of bigoted, hard-of-thinking thugs just because so many of them behave as such, especially when travelling abroad. But a sizeable minority fit the description like a glove and seem rather proud of the fact.

England, oddly enough, were not mentioned when the French authorities dished out awards to the best fans attending Euro 2016. The Irish, including the Northern Irish, were honoured, however, with most of France probably relieved by then to have seen the back of our lot.

Remember that German police chief at the 1988 equivalent of the competition: “The English came in their thousands, got drunk and fought. The Irish came in their thousands, got drunk and sang.”

If Sam wants the job, of course, it is despite the relative qualities of support, not because of them. Most of us hope he will be ruled out, by the panel or by himself. Most of us equally fear the writing is on the wall.

“We’re doomed,” said Joan Dawson, a lifelong supporter, at Facebook. She was referring to our chances of keeping Sam, not the longer-term prognosis for the club.

“Of course he’s going to want to take the job (if offered) but he’s giving up the chance to re-build a historic but floundering club, and be in it for the long-term. All for the opportunity to train a team for a couple of years, fail badly in an international competition and then retire disillusioned. My take on it anyway.
Don’t do it. Sam – please stay! Is there a campaign to keep him?”

In the same Facebook thread, and in comments to my ESPN FC piece, the rather tired view was expressed that plenty of England fans would also like Sam too stay with us.

My response (merging one from each forum): “Then let’s leave him where he is. Sunderland will prosper as he’s the best manager we’ve had since early Peter Reid, and gets players performing much more attractively than we – at any rate – have seen in a long time. We keep him, Sunderland prosper and England look elsewhere. Everyone’s happy.”

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

24 thoughts on “Big Sam and England: oh, won’t you stay?”

  1. The FA’s high handed approach to issue of the next England Manager is disgraceful, and as so rightly pointed out above it is leaving the Clubs involved in a very poor position for the start of the season.

    Interesting to note that all three Clubs are outwith the recognised ‘big boys league’ would the FA behave more considerate if it was Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea???

    However, conspiracy theories can lead you to madness so it looks like its just down to their usual incompetence!!!

  2. As we all know, the only loyalty you will find in football is from the fans. Personally, I think Sam would be better advised to stay and cement his legacy at Sunderland – and I believe he could.

    However, from everything I have read [ about Sam’s ambitions ] I think he would take the national job if it was offered, on the right terms.

    David Moyes was always my number one hope as our manager, even in front of Sam. I would like Sam to stay, but if he goes, please, please, appoint Moyes. IMO he is the absolute right fit for our club. The right age, great experience of a similar sort of club, and in view of his recent experiences in Manchester and Spain, I think he would relish an opportunity to try to stabilise a club like ours. In so doing, I think he could achieve iconic status.

    • Exactly right,it needs to be sorted quickly so that us,Hull, Bournemouth or whichever club the new England manager comes from, that club has time to put its house in order for the new season.

      What annoys me is the scant regard given by the FA to any of the clubs likely to lose its manager. The timing on this is downright disgraceful .

  3. That’s the worry – that we go down and stay down. If Allardyce does leave, I hope it happens quickly and that Moyes agrees to replace him equally quickly. He, I think, is our only viable alternative to Allardyce and however this plays out, it needs to be dealt with in time to bring in some new blood to the squad. We can’t be stuck waiting for the January window to open.

  4. Not everyone thinks of the national side as you – and I, and a few others here – do, Bill. I desperately want him to stay but won’t actually begrudge him the belief, difficult as I find to understand, that managing England, until s*** hits fan as it always does, is the best job in football and one he wants a crack at before he retires. We must remember he is a Sunderland employee, not a fan, whatever fond impression he has of our support.

    Frustration over transfer inactivity, in my honest but uninformed opinion, has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on though it may have been a quite separate reason, if Short is being difficult, for disenchantment .

    • “He’s an employee, not a fan…” Exactly – an employee with a contract that he should be prepared to fulfill. He may well regard England as the best job in football but he’s not a stupid man and you would hope he realizes his footballing legacy would suffer if his last job before retirement was a crushing failure. He’d be remembered far more fondly as the man who finally consolidated Sunderland’s fortunes.
      Right now, he’s exactly the manager we need – solid, pragmatic, no-nonsense, no illusions. That’s not what the national team needs. What’s called for there is someone young with flair and fire in his belly, a risk-taker who realizes he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Allardyce is long past that stage (If, indeed, he ever had those qualities).
      Horses for courses… he’s the man for us, he’s not the man for England. I hope vanity doesn’t blind him to that. But I’m not at all confident.

      • I’ve been an employee a few times. In my experience loyalty, diligence, sheer hard work, and contract are worth nowt when the bosses want to get their own way.

        A poor start and Sam could be out on his ear. We know it, he knows it.

        Only fans are loyal these days, and look at how they are exploited l

      • You of course are correct John but we have an owner who is an owner not a fan. He may be backing the club but as someone who has a financial stake (admittedly a huge financial stake) rather than an emotional involvement in it. As I see things (and there will be plenty of people sticking up for Ellis Short) his way of running the club is not meeting the expectation of supporters and his time in charge has been fraught with insecurity and instability.

        I accept we could do a lot worse but what we need now is consolidation and a show of passion from the whole club. The supporters showed it, Allardyce and the players he picked in the last few months of the season showed it.

        In the end Big Sam supposedly has a clause in his contract that allows him to talk to the FA and take the job if they offer it to him. Moyes I think could take us forward but I agree wholeheartedly with Bill. Sam is the perfect fit for the club at this time and not what England needs.

        If he goes he goes but if he stays we need the owner to show he is 100% behind him and loosen the reins. I firmly believe that if Sam is allowed his head, the improvements we would see on the pitch would take the club to a place where Ellis Short wants it to be. My fear is that by being cautious we will see another season of struggle and at some point there won’t be three teams worse than us.

        We could be doing a West Ham, Stoke or Everton next season, nothing too flash but enough to be secure. Instead I can see us being more of a Villa or a N**c**l* but while I can see the Mags coming back under Benitez I don’t think we’d automatically bounce back.

  5. To follow up on Paul’s point about the year left on Allardyce’s contract, I’d like to think he felt an obligation to see that out. Taking on the England squad would be nothing more than vanity – his final job before retirement. I can’t see him achieving much with the national no-hopers. It would be nothing more than ticking off another item on his bucket list. I would hope that there’s more to the man than that but… maybe not.

    • I read this morning that Hull would not stand
      in the way of Bruce, says a lot about Bruce’s and Hull’s
      chances next season. In Allardyce’s case, the
      exact opposite but the situation could soon get
      more tense with the club inviting him to
      make a choice. We would love you to stay but if you want to manage England, fair enough, but take your chance and resign. This move would be wholly reasonable if the FA are not prepared to speeden up the process.

  6. I’m not sure Sam’s frustration in the transfer market is related to Short, more the inflated sums being asked for due to the increased television funding. Sam isn’t the sort of man to be held to ransom for a player. I’d say that explains the initial lack of movement in the transfer market.

    However, this is now compounded by the speculation over big Sam. It would be crazy for Short to open his cheque book now, only for Sam to leave for England, then find the new signing doesn’t fit the style of whoever we appoint as a replacement. Until the will he / won’t he is resolved, I dare say we won’t see anyone of note coming in.

  7. Just as Sunderland find some stability. Friggin’ England step in, it seems that keeping us up is a master stroke. Worthy of winning the world cup perhaps. Poppycock!

    • Supporters remain loyal to their team whatever happens.

      Last season the players that got us out of the mire, the manager and the coaching staff all seemed to show the same sort of passion that is found in the stands. They are doing a job of work and we know other offers may come their way but it seemed that those who jetted off to Austria were committed to the club and the new season in a way that we haven’t seen for years. Hodgson’s mismanagement (which I expected) is the cause of the current turmoil but never thought it would impinge on our club as I thought Allardyce’s chance of becoming England manager had been and gone. I should have known though that when jobs come up the same old names will be trotted out.

      If Allardyce stays will the fact that he was prepared to put himself up for the England job dilute that? Somehow I think probably not and he will be able to pick up where he left off.

      If he goes will we lose the momentum that we hoped would take us forward? We saw how effective a run of form at the back end of one season could carry on into the next with Leicester. I know a lot of their supporters were disappointed when Pearson went last summer. A change of manager did them no harm.

      Rob is right to question whether Allardyce would do any better at England than anyone appointed since Alf Ramsay. Big Sam’s achievements at club level are modest at best, avoiding relegation and then consolidating clubs. Just what we want at Sunderland.

      I’ll be pleased if he stays but should he be offered and accept the England job someone like David Moyes could take us onward and upward too.

      It’s just a shame that all of this and the lack of transfer activity is seeing our pre-season optimism evaporate.

      • True, Leicester’s change of manager didn’t hurt them one bit but Nigel Pearson had been in charge for almost four years (I’m not counting his first stint at the club). In that time, Sunderland (counting caretakers) had half a dozen managers. The SoL should have been fitted with a revolving door. There’s no stability, no long-term commitment, and we need that more than anything.

      • “There’s no stability, no long-term commitment and we need that more than anything.” Agreed.

  8. He still has a year to run on his contract but
    he seems to disregard that. Wenger has stated that
    he will honour his contract which also has a year
    to go. Wenger is, perhaps, less vain than Sam who
    loves the limelight.

    • He hasn’t got the England job yet. If he doesn’t get it, it’s important we all get behind him. I hope he doesn’t get it personally and will not hold it against him if he does go.

  9. Your best mate Sam isnt your best mate after all, he doesnt care about anybody but hisself and lining his pockets so mebbe you should be sending some more flowers to that dutch feller’s missus, see if you can get him back lol

    • When the going gets tough, Kranka gets going. I’d worry about your own manager before taking the piss elsewhere

  10. We need a decision by the end of the week and we need a new manager in by the end of next week if Sam goes . What we need we won’t get of course and whether Sam stays or goes this stalemate could well be fatal to our recruitment drive and ultimately our prospects for next season , damn !

Comments are closed.

Next Post