Big Sam, big talk, big trouble
The most successful permanent England manager (statistically) of all time has been forced out of his job, and no-one is surprised. A situation which would have seemed ridiculous just 36 hours ago now seems to have ended in the only sensible conclusion, after Sam Allardyce was filmed in a meeting with undercover journalists from The Telegraph, offering advice on how to avoid FIFA rules on player transfers, and negotiating a £400,000 deal to represent a Far East consortium. Allardyce, 61, was summoned to a meeting with FA bosses on Tuesday, with his apology not being enough to stop him becoming the shortest full-time England boss of all time, lasting just 67 days, with his only match in charge being a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win in Slovakia.
The comments were made during a meeting between the undercover reporters, posing as businessmen, Allardyce and his agents, before the ex-Sunderland boss had took charge of his first England training session. While drinking what was believed to be a pint of wine, a drink which may forever be known as a ‘Big Sam’, he talked about how it could be possible for agents and companies to circumvent rules on third-party ownership. The practice was banned by the FA in 2008, after the controversy surrounding West Ham’s signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, with FIFA following suit last year. This isn’t the first time Allardyce has found himself involved in controversy surrounding transfer dealings, after being accused of taking bribes from agents for signing certain players, with two agents coming forward to suggest Sam had profited from transfer dealings thanks to the help of his son, Craig. Threats of legal action against the BBC were made, but libel proceedings were never issued.
Alongside his comments on transfers, Allardyce was also offered £400,000 to represent a Far East business firm, with the manager saying he would have to clear up the deal with the FA before he could accept. It is likely that his contract would have allowed him to take up extra work, as Fabio Capello did promoting his infamous Capello index, but many will want to know why a £3 million a year contract (plus performance bonuses) wasn’t enough to keep him focused on the job at hand. Allardyce had already left his ambassadorial role with My Club Betting after questions were raised about the history of the firm’s boss, Neil Riches. The Far East deal, alongside comments made about predecessor Roy Hodgson, may have been forgivable had they been an isolated incident, but in the end only served to further the case against Allardyce.
Current England under-21 boss Gareth Southgate has been placed in caretaker charge of the team for the next four matches, beginning with Malta visiting Wembley on October 8th. These matches may also serve as a job audition for Southgate, as there is a lack of a clear favourite to take the job permanently. Some names that have been suggested include Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew and former USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann, who expressed an interest in the role after England’s dismal performance at Euro 2016. Allardyce has already been linked with the managerial position at Derby County, after they suspended their manager Nigel Pearson. With a track record of promoting clubs into the Premier League, and establishing them as steady mid-table teams, it is likely that there will be a job for Big Sam sooner rather than later. However, he will be hoping it ends in far better circumstances than the last one.
(Image credit: Tom Dulat)