Big Sam And The Science Of Screwing Up

29/09/2016 14:09

It was August that I wrote a blog in support of Sam Allardyce's appointment as England manager. One can never guarantee success (this is the England football team after all) but the hope was that his approach to sports science and man management, coupled with the talent available just might push England to being competitive in a major tournament. This was not the ending that I had in mind.

As with the previous blog, there has to be acknowledgement of bias and my support of Bolton Wanderers (where his name was chanted on Tuesday night) may influence my views.

We will never now know how England may have done under the direction of Sam Allardyce and, as we have learned from the past, qualifying for major tournaments tells us very little. His reign has now been cut prematurely short and, frankly, he really does only have himself to blame. This is a man who has been in professional football since 1971 and has managed in the top flight of English football for years. By his own admission, he is not an academic but he is streetwise. From an outsider looking in, it is difficult to fathom how he managed to find himself in the position he did. Entrapment or not, Sam and the people with whom he surrounds himself really do need to reflect on what has happened.

Sam Allardyce, like many top flight managers of recent years, has plenty of respect from people in the game but that respect is not total. He has a history of rubbing people inthe game up the wrong way with his uncompromising style on and off the pitch. His relationship with the media tends to be OK but he did refuse to talk to the BBC for many years following the now infamous Panorama program. His appointment as England manager was not met with universal approval by supporters, wary of the so called "Big Sam style". It might be a touch of paranoia but there was a distinct impression that there would be people out to get him, particularly with the highest profile appointment in his career.
What is frustrating for those of us who wanted him to succeed is it was allowed to happen, and happen so early in his tenure. The vitriol to which he has been subjected was all too predictable. It seems there were many waiting for him to screw up, and he has obliged.

Sam Allardyce has not killed anyone. At the very least, he is guilty of a gross error of judgement that he has paid a heavy price for. His motivation for that is the subject of much conjecture and people will make up their own minds. The bottom line is, you cannot be England manager and make gross errors of judgement like this at a time when the integrity of football as a sport is under scrutiny. The debacle that is FIFA has shown us that football has integral problems that need to be confronted if the game is to have any credibility. As an aside, there are those who have suggested that England football has become a global laughing stock due to this. I would suggest that the globe stopped being bothered about the England football team many years ago. England won the World Cup fifty years ago and nothing since, we do not sit at the top table and have not done so for years.

People in years to come will remember him for his achievements with Bolton Wanderers. They will also remember this much more vividly, which is actually very sad. Recent newspapers allegations suggest other managers may follow, but others were not the England manager at the time.