Let’s face it, as we all waited to see Sam Allardyce’s first squad, a few of us half expected a call-up for Kevin Nolan, didn’t we?
Okay, I’m joking, but many certainly thought Jermain Defoe and Mark Noble would be included, but no. In actual fact, it’s changed very little from the time of Roy Hodgson. This will have surely disappointed many who thought we were getting a new man with new, fresh ideas. But fear not, expert after expert has told us how great Sam is, so much so that I’m genuinely convinced this is going to be a glorious era for England.
I really think we’re going to do very, very well under Allardyce and probably win something. I’ve been persuaded in this because so many experts have sung his praises for loudly for so long. They can’t all be wrong, can they? No. These are just some of the comments made about him in the last few months by fans, pundits and others in the media. He’s brilliant.
“The players will be the fittest they’ve ever been.”
“The defence will be well organised. Guaranteed.”
“He’ll have worked out a plan A, B, and C for every game.”
“He is meticulous in his organisation.”
“He’ll make training enjoyable.”
“There’s nothing he doesn’t know about his players.”
“He knows how to make players feel special.”
“He won’t pick anyone on reputation.”
“He’ll pick players on form.”
“He’s not afraid to make big decisions.”
“His training methods are very modern.”
“He’ll have all the players statistics to hand.”
“He’s a big advocate of Pro-Zone.”
“He’ll have someone alongside him with a laptop.”
“He can make complicated things, simple.”
“He makes great in-game tactical changes. This one off, that one on. Just like that.”
“He’s a brilliant man manager.”
“He’ll make playing for England fun again.”
“He’d rather not lose than win.”
“He’ll know who needs a cuddle and who needs a kick up the backside.”
“We want someone who will just come and out say we’re rubbish and Sam will do that.”
“He’ll bring the passion back.”
“He doesn’t just play long ball football. That’s a myth.”
“Nothing about any opposition player will surprise him. He’ll literally know everything.”
“There won’t be an opposition player he doesn’t know everything about.”
“No England team will have ever been better prepared for any game.”
“The press will love him and will give him an easy ride, even if things go wrong.”
“He’ll get the press all on side with jokes and by being available.”
“He’s a great communicator at this level.”
“When he talks, some people really listen.”
“Sam’s great at psychology.”
“He was the first to bring in massages for players and all of that.”
“He knows all about the cryo-thing…what’s it called, with the ice and that.”
“He’s the anti-Hodgson.”
“He gets inside players brains and they can hear him all the time.”
“He’s not like Capello. He has a passion for his country. That’s what counts at this level.”
“His problem is that he’s never managed a club that is as good as he is.”
“Roy was too high-brow. Sam is on the same level as the players.”
“If Rooney isn’t playing well, he’ll drop him. He will. He won’t care that it’s Wayne.”
“He’s used to working with poor players.”
“He’s good at telling average players that they’re world beaters.”
“No-one is more tactically sophisticated. Whatever is the trendy thing he’ll know all about it.” “He’ll never be out-thought by an opposition coach.”
“He makes everything simple for players and they love him for that.”
“He’s ideal for England because he gets the best out of average players.”
“There’s no way we’d have lost to Iceland under Allardyce.”
The quite extraordinary degree of praise for a manager whose only high-level achievement is to not be relegated from the Premier League and to lose a League Cup final to Middlesbrough, has been unsurpassed. The good times are here. They must be. All of these comments just can’t be all wrong. These truths will not turn out to be lies.
He has been sold to us for years now as a man so modern and progressive that it’s like he’s come from the future. He is a man who has been discriminated against because he’s English, who has been held back in his achievements by anglophobe owners, by unambitious clubs and by unappreciative fans. A man who has, it would seem, never done much wrong. If you search for criticism of Allardyce you will find a lot from fans, but almost none from the media football experts.
He made Sunderland the fourth worst side in the league. See? Brilliant. He actually handcrafted Jermain Defoe out of gaffer tape, soya beans and AA batteries.
But now he has to deliver for England and do it immediately. And the thing about the England job is that it is an unforgiving lover. There are no hiding places. Nowhere to lay off the blame.
All Allardyce can do is equal his predecessor’s last qualifying tournament, unless he’s so great that he’s found a way to win more than 100% of the qualifying games. Maybe he has access to new laws of mathematics. Maybe he’s got a vibrating plate that can tear open the space-time continuum. Let’s hope so.
I think many of us harbour a notion that actually, he’s exactly what England’s notoriously intellectually undernourished elite have needed for some time: an alpha male shouting very loudly at them. But we shall soon know.
Surely Allardyce is genuinely going to be a great appointment, because, if he isn’t, the majority of English press and pundits will look very foolish, and like I say, when so many have been so praiseworthy for so long, there has to be something in what they say. There just has to be.
So that’s why I believe we are on the dawn of a new great era and I, for one, welcome our new overlord and expect to be delivered glory in two years.