I USED to love shit horror films, blissfully ignoring the shortcomings — bad acting, poor plot, unrealistic stunts — and sticking with it for the good bits; that it was kind of entertaining and some of it made you jump.
A classic of the genre in the 1980s was the Halloween series. Michael Myers — him of odd mask and over-sized kitchen knife — starred in the first two, but the third sadly didn’t feature the main loon.
Spoilers here, but Halloween III instead focused on Silver Shamrock Halloween masks, which featured a secret chip in the back. Watch the TV advert wearing one, and the wearer is engulfed by a lethal swarm of insects and snakes — the idea being a mass sacrifice in the name of witchcraft.
What then, has this got to do with anything, you may well ask.
Well, the film came to mind when thinking about Sam Allardyce and England. He isn’t a shit horror film, obviously, but he does have a string of serious shortcomings that a huge number of people seem willing to ignore. It almost feels like a conspiracy. But while Halloween III had compliant androids to do the dirty work, “Big Sam” has the clueless FA suits ready to make the same mistakes all over again.
Allardyce isn’t, as far as I’m aware, using chipped Halloween masks to make his point. But, just as the kids nod their heads from side to side to the eternally annoying Silver Shamrock advert, oblivious to it’s nefarious intentions, it seems many banged the drum for a cause oblivious of what they were committing to.
Now they’ve got what they wanted. The FA are appointing Samuel Allardyce as England manager.
Since old hippo head was tipped to walk in the shoes of Roy Hodgson, normally sane football writers have pulled on their rubber masks and typed out the same arguments for Allardyce to be appointed England manager, their keyboards perhaps consumed by worms and snakes once their evil work was done.
They didn’t use torturous horror film analogies (a lesson there) but most offered up some or all of the following when selling Sam to the masses:
- He’s English
- He’s managed over 1,000 games
- He’s never been relegated
- He “deserves” a chance
- He will tighten England up defensively
- He wouldn’t have lost to Iceland
- Ferguson has backed him for the job
- He would give England “identity”
Where to start.
Pie and gravy football without a major honour as player or manager? A list of achievements that doesn’t seem befitting of a job regarded as one of the biggest by some (and attracting a salary of £3.9m — the best wage packet on show among managers at Euro 2016).
Not losing to Iceland — a result regarded as one of, if not the, worst in 144 years of England contesting football matches. Aiming high there.
But this isn’t just to pull apart points made by other writers.
It’s fair to say that Sam has banged his own drum, too. Subtle as a brick to the face, the bull-like chewer of bowling balls of gum has made it known to all that he wanted the job. And that he “deserves” it. Of course.
The man whose football career as a — you guessed it — “no nonsense centre half” took him from Bolton to Preston North End via Sunderland, Millwall, Coventry, Huddersfield, West Brom and Limerick, has never been shy of telling everyone just how good he is.
Wind back six years, and we had this corker:
“I’m not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid,” Allardyce said. “It wouldn’t be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time.
“Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same, it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s not where I’m suited to, it’s just where I’ve been for most of the time.
“It’s not a problem to take me into the higher reaches of the Champions League or Premier League and [it] would make my job a lot easier in winning it.”
And yet, funny, none of those clubs ever came knocking. But that wasn’t Big Sam’s fault. That was his Englishness. Because everyone is against England, Englishness and Sam, and that’s the spirit he’ll bring to the table to make the Three Lions roar.
Two years after the quote above, he said: “‘I won’t ever be going to a top-four club because I’m not called Allardici, just Allardyce.”
Good old, Sam. English Sam. British Bulldog Sam. Little England Sam. Sam who disparages foreigners Sam. Sam bordering on xenophobic Sam.
Jermain Defoe elbows Nicolas Otamendi. Sam: “Jermain Defoe doesn’t elbow anybody on purpose. They make a big fuss about it and that’s what they do.That’s mostly foreign players, they do make a big fuss of it. That’s in their nature. They react in a more volatile way to incidents like that than we do.”
Jürgen Klopp thinks Sunderland midfielder Jermaine Lens should have been sent off for a strong tackle on Mamadou Sakho. Sam: “He’s a soft German if that’s a red card.”
Allardyce also brings up — with depressing regularity — the apparent lack of opportunity for home-grown coaches. Using the old best-man-for-the-job criteria, it’s hard to know quite who isn’t getting the chance and where, he doesn’t say. Instead we get the broad brush, which all sounds a bit coming over here, taking our jobs Alf Garnett-esque tosh.
He’s had regular run-ins with Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez, too, ridiculously claiming Rafa had “nowt to do with” winning the Champions League in 2005 and making a fuss about a supposed “game over” signal when his Blackburn side were battered at Anfield. It was anything but.
He also spat out the line: “Being a foreigner, Rafa doesn’t understand it’s supposed to be Premier League first and Champions League second.”
Sound, isn’t he? Lovely fella. Deserves it. Rafa gave some back though. Of course he did. And in his sarcastic pop there lay much truth.
“I think he is a model for all the managers all around the world,” joked Benitez.
“His style of football, his behaviour, everything. He is the perfect role model for all the kids. I am sure parents will enjoy this model and encourage their kids to be the same.
“I also think Barcelona are trying to copy his style of football.”
Rafa was taking the piss. And that’s what people all over the world will be doing right now.
In the past, Allardyce has been overlooked in favour of Roy Hodgson. He’s been overlooked in favour of Steve McClaren. He’s still the same man. Playing the same football. Acting the same way. And this is the best England can come up with. A third choice to McClaren and Hodgson.
Think of some of the supposed positives bandied around about him. He’s old school. He’s a disciplinarian. He will tighten things up, make England hard to beat.
What an inspiration.
In an age when football in this country perhaps more than ever before needs to make a real effort to appeal to the younger generations to actually play the game, and to watch it live, at the match, rather on the telly, what does this move say? That England are up and at ‘em. England are tough. England are physical. Don’t keep the ball. Don’t play good football. Just get organised. Stop. Block. Fight. Tackle. And dream up some cleverness around set pieces.
If Sam is so obsessed about England coaches getting a chance, how about recommending one? A young one. A fresh one. A progressive one. Someone whose appointment would suggest something different from the stale state of affairs that is the status quo.
The old boys’ club argument is another cracker. Ferguson recommends his old LMA cohort? Sound. Where was the recommendation for fat head to manage at Old Trafford when Ferguson hung up his stopwatch?
Despite years of clinking glasses, playing lapdog and brown-nosing at every opportunity, there was no shout for Sam at the crucial time. Because Ferguson is many things but he’s not stupid. He will remember when old Sam cocked it up at Newcastle. When the West Ham fans hated his football. When he managed — and encouraged — the man who has committed the most fouls in Premier League history, Kevin Davies, to do more of the same. When his supposedly revolutionary techniques included stand in front of the keeper on corners. Get stuck in. Keep it tight. Show them we’re men.
I’m not an active England fan. I’ve never paid a penny to go and watch them and probably never will. Why do I give a fuck? Because of what it represents. Because of what it says. Because football in England is arrogant, and needs to change.
He is the ghost of football past. Of ‘just fucking launch it’.
And he’s a twat and a bit ridiculous.
He blamed not getting the England job once before on not being able to use Powerpoint.
In that 15-year top-flight management career so many bang on about, he has taken charge of only eight games in Europe; in the UEFA Cup with Bolton in 2005/06.
He was sacked after only eight months and 24 Premier League games at Newcastle. That’s the biggest club he’s managed. And they weren’t sad to see him go.
Football’s Red Adair, brought in to fight fires, to get results, to make things happen, anyway, anyhow, in the short term. But long term? Grass roots? Other levels of the game? The big picture?
How about as a figurehead? His head is massive, but does it figure? Do we have Allardyce quotes being traded on social media, written on posters, used as motivation? Or do many, if not most, think he should be nowhere near such a role?
Will the current crop of senior England players be jumping for joy at the thought of playing for this man? Will they bolllocks. Not when their place now comes under threat from Lee Cattermole and Andy Carroll.
It’s more of the same, this. More underwhelming, more overpaying, and a decision ultimately taken by Martin Glenn, the FA chief executive, who, as Roy Hodgson swung his last haymakers at a nation that wearily dodged the bullshitter’s attack, revealed he was “no football expert”.
You don’t say.
It’s almost time, kids. The clock is ticking. Be in front of your TV sets for the Horrorthon…Sam Allardyce’s first match in charge of England will be a World Cup qualifier away to Slovakia on September 4th.