Monsieur Salut writes: Despite far too many decades as a journalist (three of them with The Daily Telegraph), I have serious misgivings about sting operations. They may sometimes uncover genuine malpractice but, among a number of concerns, I wonder who polices the stinger, in this case the Telegraph. This newspaper has after all spent several years getting rid of the sort of seasoned, sensible and in many case outstandingly good journalists who might have been trusted with such a role. For some reason, it makes me think of speed cops hiding behind bushes, as happens in France. It’s, well, just not British.
That said, Sam Allardyce has been a very foolish man. Pete Sixsmith takes up the story and offers scant sympathy …
Many of us will be familiar with the fable of the scorpion and the frog.
It’s where a scorpion persuades a frog to carry him across a fast flowing stream on the frog’s back. The frog is reluctant to do it, believing that the scorpion will sting him and kill him but the scorpion assures him that it would be a stupid thing to do as they would both drown.
So they set off and as sure as eggs are eggs, the scorpion stings the frog. As he expires, the frog says: “Why did you do that – we’ll both die now?” To which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature.”
As it is with the former manager of Sunderland AFC and England Sam Allardyce. Put a lucrative deal in front of him and it is in his nature to take it, irrespective of the fact that he is earning £3m a year and is in the job that he always wanted. Oh dear, O lord, O dear as Walter Gabriel used to spout in The Bull at Ambridge.
In many ways he is guilty of nothing more than greed, avarice and stupidity, none of which are really sacking offences. For many of us, the first two are essential components of our working lives. The third one is something that most of us have been guilty of – we have recognised we were wrong, gone out of our way not to do it again and learned from it. But then, we were not the England manager.
Was there entrapment? Yes. Was it justified? Well, the Telegraph circulation manager will certainly think so. Was the sting considered when Allardyce was Sunderland manager? I know not. But if it was, they knew who to go for.
He has a history of being up for the money does Sam. Panorama raised serious questions about him in 2007 and named his son Craig as a man who sometimes found it difficult to decide what was within the rules and regulations and what wasn’t.
Three incoming transfers to Bolton Wanderers were never signed off by the FA. One of the players involved, Tal Ben Haim, ended up at Portsmouth, managed by Harry Redknapp, and eventually played half a season on Wearside.
So, there was form. He signed Enver Valencia when his playing rights were owned by a consortium but West Ham made sure that they followed the regulations correctly – or so we are told.
I have little interest in the national team and would not be bothered if they appointed Mike and Bernie Winters to manage it. But I am concerned that the most recent ex-Sunderland manager has been uncovered as a serial taker and I begin to wonder about a few things that have happened recently, viz; the “promise” made to Kone of a new contract if we stayed up. What was the precise involvement in this matter of Sam, Willie McKay or Allardyce’s agent, Mark Curtis?
Was Ellis Short aware of any sharp practices or hints of them? If so, that may explain his reluctance to provide Sam with any money to spend in the transfer window.
Is Allardyce the iceberg or is he just the tip of it? Who else will be exposed as a serial taker and will any of us be surprised at who they may be?
Allardyce did a good job in keeping us up last season. He created a team spirit that we no longer appear to have. He worked with Yedlin and van Aanholt and improved them. We were delighted with what he did and accepted, grudgingly perhaps, that the England job was a fair reward for a man who had managed a mixture of unfashionable and dysfunctional clubs for his entire career.
What many of us did not like was the fact that he had nothing to say to the supporters when he left [at least not until it seemed rather late, almost an afterthought -Ed]. It was all “me, me, me” with no recognition of the support he had from the terraces. He was rarely criticised on the message boards or in these columns as many accepted that he had little of any substance to work with.
But that night at Hartlepool when he was offered the England job, he never once mentioned Sunderland AFC or the support. He lost a lot of friends because of it.
The Germans have a word for it and as usual, it’s a long one; schadenfreude. It means to take some pleasure at someone’s bad fortune and there will be a few Sunderland supporters this morning thinking that.
We may be bottom of the league, we may have a team that cannot defend, we may well be on our way to the Championship and a renewal of our rivalry with our Tyneside friends, but we may also have dodged a bullet with Allardyce. We shall see.