Is Sam Allardyce the right man for England ?
Iceland fulfilled England’s demand for ‘Brexit’ from Euro 2016 with a scintillating display of direct football, just like Northern Ireland happily pledged Wales demand to ‘Remain’, following a McCauley own goal. There was barely any doubt over the future of the hapless Roy Hodgson, whose own appointment to replace Fabio Capello was marked with scrutiny and skepticism. He asked for a complete revamp of the squad from the 2014 World Cup failure and he got it but scarcely did it make any difference to this campaign. Had his team lost to France in the quarters and bowed out, there would not have been much to channel at him and he would have perhaps stayed till 2017, but unfortunately the story has been differently scripted.
So the obvious question is who is in line to replace him ?
Well, the list has plenty of names; Even on Wednesday morning rumours indicated Gareth Southgate, the man who led England U-21 to the finals of the European Championship, would be the man to replace Hodgson. He has previously played for England and was the manager of Middlesbrough, the last time they were in the English top flight. He enjoyed a three-year top flight spell only to see his side get relegated in 2009.
However, that is the past, as he has shown no interest to take over a hectic, challenging job as the English national team boss.
The next in line are Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, Arsene Wenger and Laurent Blanc.
Arsene Wenger’s appointment would be a bit far-fetched as Arsenal has no intention to part with him and he himself would be aware of the pay-cheque difference if he takes over Roy Hodgson’s position.
Alan Pardew is again not the most obvious choice as both he and Arsene Wenger seem to replicate plenty of Hodgson’s values and attributes. He has his contract at Crystal Palace till 2018 and is not likely to take over such a demanding position.
The mystery pretty much surrounds Sam Allardyce and Laurent Blanc who has recently parted with Paris giants, PSG. Sam Allardyce had a relatively mediocre season with Sunderland which saw them barely managing to stay in the top flight by finishing seventeenth. Yet Allardyce’s experience and tactical acumen is something England severely lacks. He was the sole man responsible for Bolton’s rise from the Championship to European cup competition and he has been very successful with middle-table teams in the Premiership since 2008.
Big Sam’s tactics
A firm believer in the ‘long-ball’ play and set-pieces, his style of play would be somewhat different to the possession-based-football which English teams under Capello and Hodgson played. His defensive strategies are an art which cannot be compared, something which even sent the Jose Mourinho into a rant of how Allardyce’s men play ‘19th century football’.
However, that does not, in the least, diminish the chances of Laurent Blanc.
The primary thing that works for Blanc in this instant is that he is currently unemployed. Whosoever would be taking over would fully comprehend the gravity of the position and the burden of English expectations.
Many pundits have the expectations that he can change England’s fortunes and settle the team egos, which has been a driving factor behind their persistent failures. He guided France to the quarters of 2012 Euros, after the mutiny which brewed in the team following a catastrophic World Cup 2010 outing.
Blanc has been successful in France’s premier domestic league winning three titles back-to-back yet his European credentials in knock-out phases is something yet not validated. He has not been able to take PSG to the semis of the Champions League in three attempts, despite boasting of some huge talents in Europe.
Though he has won silverware as a manager of a club like PSG in a league, far less competitive than Allardyce’s eight-year straight stint in the English Premier League, expectations from him cannot be flying high, as he has yet a lot to prove.
England has seen plenty of managers in the last decade or so, who have taken them to the pre-quarters and quarters, so his ability to do better than that, at this point of time, seems overwhelmingly unwieldy.
The FA will seek the advice of Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer before making their move, and it would not in any way come before the finals of the Euros.
As of now, it is safe to say Allardyce’s appointment can only be the appointment to look forward to.