So it's Sam Allardyce, or Big Sam as he's affectionately know. That's right, the ex Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham and Sunderland manager (whose impressive trophy cabinet as a manager boasts a third devision title almost 20 years ago) has, it seems, snagged the biggest job in English football (apparently). This news has, by many in the know and also an alarming amount of fans, been greeted as somewhat positive, no really it has! Ladies and gentlemen we have been Hodged!
To diminish expectations so low that simply anything is seen as better.
To suck the life and joy out of everything.
To fool people into think you are a nice, educated man because you read books.
When Roy Hodgson took over as England manager in 2012 I said to a friend that he was a fraud, a manager who couldn't handle the pressure, a manager who didn't even believe in tactics, a man who would drag England further into mediocrity and then ask us all to say thank you. My assessment of Roy was greeted with "you only don't like him because of what he did at Liverpool, and he never got time there to do anything". Part of that is true, a large amount of my dislike of Roy comes from his time at Liverpool and my friend is right we didn't give him time, the reason we didn't give him time is because he was woeful and completely out of his depth working with the top players we had at the time. So.....fast forward two years and England are dumped out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil without even getting time to unpack, and I say to the same friend that Roy has to go, he's clearly out of his depth and doesn't know what he's doing, and guess what his response was "you only don't like him because of what he did at Liverpool, and he never got time there to do anything". So can you guess what happened this year just a couple of weeks ago when Roy so graciously (yeah right!) quit, in the wake of a disastrous defeat to the frankly brilliant Iceland team, my friend says to me "thank god Roy has gone, he was totally out of his dept and void of any tactical nous at all" finally he'd seen sense.....until "what we need is someone like Allardyce". It seems my friend has been Hodged.
Now I'm not saying Allardyce is a bad manager, because as much as I dislike the man and his brand of shithouse football he's actually a competent manager, he's steady chaos. However, is a 61 year old ego machine who's honed his crafts in the lower mid ranks of the Premier league really what England needs? Didn't we already try that, you know, with Roy?
The alarming situation however is that England don't produce many top level managers, it's sad but it's true. The last Englishman to win the English title was Howard Wilkinson with Leeds in 1992, the year before the Premier league era, in which no English manager has won the title, two Scots, a Frenchman, three Italians, a Chilean and some Portuguese chap have though.
So that brings the question of does it have to be an Englishman who takes charge of the national team? Well in my view, yes I think it does.
Now I'm by no means a flag waving 'little Englander', and I don't think that all national teams should have to have a coach of their nationality. For instance take Iceland, their current rise has been under the stewardship of Lars Lagerbäck, a Swede, helping by bringing his experience and for the past three years he has shared the duty with Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson. This is a great way for less established countries to take on experience and help forge their own paths. However England, rightly or wrongly, are seen as (and see themselves as) one of the big players, one of the top 10 in the world, and if you are pitching yourselves there then you've gotta go all in, and that for me means an Englishman in the big seat.
So I may not like Sam Allardyce, I may not like the way his teams play or the fact that he's a gobshite egomaniac, but at least I know where I am with him, at least we will have an identity, it maybe a shitty one but christ! it's better than none at all. Also Allardyce will go into the job with a point to prove, unlike Roy who went into the job acting like he's arrived and this was his destiny and we should all be grateful for his 37 years of coaching wisdom that he was about to bring into our game, wisdom like not knowing your best XI before a major tournament, playing half your team out of position, picking injured players, going sightseeing instead of going to watch your opponents because one of your fucking coaches has never seen Paris, I mean fucking come on, newsflash you owl faced c**t you were not on holiday you were being paid to compete in a football tournament, and let's not forget throwing two strikers on at halftime and acting like it made you a tactical genius, if you hadn't fucked up with your starting XI in the first place you wouldn't have needed to!
So what does the future hold for the English national team, who knows, the only consistent will be that the FA will keep throwing wads of cash chasing the dream of a trophy, while lamenting the lack of top quality English players and coaches coming through the ranks. Well here's a crazy idea, instead of spending so much money on managers, hospitality, stadiums, training centres and trying to win hosting rights to tournaments, spend it on grassroots football, and I don't mean lets invest in the best of the best and make sure they get the best of everything, I mean invest in better facilities for communities and sports clubs. Give the game back to everybody, stop hoarding it for the ones you deem worthy, let people get back to enjoying football by actually being able to play the damn game. Stop forcing kids out of the game because either they have nowhere to play or the places they could play are being used by kids better than them because you think they are the future. FA what you are doing right now isn't working, so maybe try something different, and gives us back the game that I fell in love with as a kid.