We’ve already had Pete Sixsmith’s words of wisdom on the Sam Allardyce affair. Here, Salut! Sunderland’s deputy editor Malcolm Dawson considers the issues that arise but also what it means to us, supporters of Sunderland …
“Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant. It tends to get worse.”
It would be easy to become paranoid as a Sunderland supporter. Every time we seem to be on the up, something comes along to kick us in the teeth.
The resignation of Sam Allardyce from the England job adds a further dimension to the frustration that we are feeling at the present time. “Why us?” we can and will ask. Here was the man who many of us thought might just stabilise the club, end the cycle of perennial relegation struggles and establish us as a solid Premier League Club.
Things were looking good at the end of last season, with a team that seemed full of fighting spirit and togetherness and more than a little ability. Undoubtedly there were frustrations with the lack of transfer activity before the pre-season friendlies kicked off, but good preparations in Austria gave cause for optimism.
Unfortunately by the time of the Hartlepool game a concerted effort by the press and other media made it difficult for the FA to even consider anyone else as a replacement for Roy Hodgson. Yes others were reportedly approached, but once Allardyce was installed as firm favourite it was as good as settled and so he got the offer of his dream job. There appeared to be acrimony between him and the club on his departure with a lack of grace from both sides – the club refusing to thank him for his achievements and on his part the departing manager failing, initially, to thank the fans.
Why us? Just as we seemed to be in a good place, or at least on the fringes of one, the inadequacies of Roy Hodgson, the machinations of the media and the ineptitude of the FA, in one fell swoop undermined all the good that had resulted from “Great Escape IV – The Start of a New Beginning.”
Potentially Big Sam could have gone down in the annals as a legend – the equal of Stokoe and Reid. Instead he walked away without a backward glance and yet still the majority of fans wished him well.
Now, assuming the reports I have read are correct, I can’t for the life of me understand why a multimillionaire would put himself in a situation which he must have realised would compromise his position as England manager. This after all, was the job we were led to believe was the one he had coveted for years and the one which caused him to abandon Sunderland AFC.
I can’t understand it because:
a) it seems morally wrong to adopt the position he did
b) he must have known that as a newly appointed England manager his behaviour would be scrutinised and he would be vulnerable to this type of entrapment and
c) although £400,000 is a fortune to most people it isn’t to a man of his wealth.
For most of us it is hard to comprehend what it must be like to have such riches and why, other than through pure greed and arrogance would he put his dream job at risk?
Of course we can only speculate what might have been had he still been in charge of team affairs at the Stadium of Light. The injuries to Kirchhoff, Cattermole and Larsson before the season kicked off, compounded by those to Jones, Mannone, Borini and now Januzaj haven’t helped and we’ll never know who may have arrived during the transfer window had Sam still been at the helm. Might Kaboul have been more inclined to stay if the status quo had been maintained? Would the disruption that was Konegate have transpired with Big Sam around?
We can but ponder but as fans we have seen a position of relative strength unravel and we find ourselves once more in the familiar position at the foot of the table.
For Sam to be out of a job again, just two months after leaving one where he had won over our hearts is just another stab in the back for supporters.
At the time of his departure, the majority seemed to think that David Moyes was the best man to step into the manager’s office on Wearside and the club was praised over the speed of his appointment. The owner certainly gave that impression and yet there are already calls for him to be sacked. To have to receive the dreaded vote of confidence from the board less than ten weeks into a four year contract, shows how bad things have got for the Moysiah.
We can debate whether a disappointing transfer window is down to Moyes, Bain, Short, agents or players but things seem as bad now as they were when Advocaat was persuaded to return and take the reins only to soon give up the ghost. Like Moyes he was a popular choice and like Moyes soon realised the enormity of the task he had taken on. But the manner of Dick’s return and his earlier statements about retirement made it easier for him to leave than it will for Moyes.
Personally I think it is far too early to even think about another manager, though plenty are. However, there are aspects of Moyses’s style that I find perturbing. His negativity comes across in Spades. That can’t be motivating. His statement that he hasn’t got enough good players, may be true but surely won’t inspire those he has to fight for him. That the club will be embroiled in a relegation battle may be the most obvious thing any Sunderland manager has ever said, but what message does that convey about his own ambitions for the club? His miserable expression and downbeat body language suggests a man who is regretting his decision to come to the club and isn’t up for the fight. Dick cried, Allardyce danced and still they left. Moyes has yet to convince me he has a similar emotional bond to the club.
In the 67 days that Allardyce was the man at the helm of the national side, the buoyant atmosphere on Wearside has all but dissipated. It’s perhaps too soon to sink into the slough of despondent fatalism but things aren’t looking good. A win on Saturday might be the start of the upturn but I’m not holding my breath after last weekend.
Big Sam retained the affection of many of the Stadium of Light regulars when he quit. Surely many will now feel let down by a man who professed to want the England job more than anything, but not as much as a wad of easily earned cash.