Mails: It’s time to give Big Sam a chance…

Date published: Thursday 21st July 2016 9:34

Another good Mailbox. Send your thoughts to


The question everyone is asking
So, to the real question everyone wants answered. Who will be the next Belgium manager?

Would f365 care to speculate?
MN Aditya


Allardyce is the last thing England needs
Sam Allardyce is precisely the wrong person to get the England job, for a simple reason: he’ll be too pleased to get it. This is, literally, the last thing England need. Imagine the scorn the English press would heap on a Uruguay (another team considerably better than England) manager who claimed that, thanks to their World Cup victories in 1930 and 1950, they were a gigantic force in world football. Right, so – the next England manager needs to be one of sufficient standing and self-awareness that he can inform the England team of the truth – that rather than being forever the heirs to 1966, England is currently, pound for pound in terms of the size of the talent pool, domestic popularity and resources available, the worst team on the planet. Not Kiribati, not Western Samoa: England (playing Russia in the final). Since 1990 England has beaten Ecuador and Denmark in 90 minutes of knockout football, and lost (bar a victory on pens vs Spain in 96) to every single other team you could conceivably call ‘a big side’. And Iceland.

On hearing that, just maybe, they’d get a sufficient reality-check to realise quite how low England has slumped – that this is a side where every single element of how the players approach it has to be ripped out and re-fashioned. Instead, they’ll get a manager looking to vent the old chip on his shoulder, at finally getting given ‘the massive job’ he deserves. It’s not a massive job, Sam. Currently, it’s an absolute also-ran of a job, the kind of Sunderland/Blackburn type you’re used to. Telling the England players anything else is exactly the worst place to start.

Comically, about the only thing the England team probably don’t want for – passion – is about as relevant as if a NASA scientist during the first moon-landing had said ‘Guys, do you think the font for our stickers on the outside of the rocket is bright enough’? For any ‘pashun’ goon looking forward to Big Sam bringing exactly what the lads need – I’d just ask you consider the Brazil-Germany semi in 2014, and which team showed more passion, and which team showed a more cold-eyed sense of how to get a job done, and which of them did better out of it.

I feel, at least for me personally, it’s entirely possible this is the end for the foreseeable future of me having anything but a passing interest in the England team. Literally the most boring WC Qualifying group you could design, a manager where even the thought of his press conferences sets my teeth on edge, and who makes the perfect cherry on the cake of good olde Englande going back to the good old days when men was men and foreigners was foreigns – all to play in a World Cup in a country where it will be used to burnish the popularity of a gangster-dictator. Joy. And then that lovely ‘UEFA Euro Tours 2020’, and then Qatar. Take my passion, England – you’re welcome to it.
Toby Sprigings


Give him a chance
News of Sam Allardyce’s appointment as England manager has all but been rubberastamped but I want to confess that I’ve been preparing for this day for some years.

Firstly, I’m not a fan of Allardyce per se – his teams’ performances and negativity (in the main) often left me hoping he never came anywhere near my team, let alone the National team. However, listening to the top brass at the FA coupled with the numerous failures in major tournaments as long as I can remember, has led to this point in our footballing history. And I’m fully on board.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument vehemently and coherently addressed but it really is where England is at football-wise: a perceived dinosaur utilised for his ability to scrape a barrel for crumbs when others might have already discarded it thinking it was empty.

There’s no doubt Allardyce will get an easier ride with the press and this is a major factor that should not be ignored. Of course, most new managers usually get a grace period but Big Sam has even bigger pals who work in the news peddling business and – regardless of the relationship between team and journalists – Allardyce will absolutely foster a good will amongst the players in keeping with a siege mentality.

I know this doesn’t sound very far-reaching or ambitious but I’ve never seen England as a truly great force. In fact, I believe that the top job should always go to the manager most deserving; almost as a reward for exemplary service. If we treat the tournaments like an exhibition to enjoy and have fun with (a la Iceland, Northern Ireland et al at Euro 2016) then our perceptions change, and importantly, our ambition changes too.

Let’s give Big Sam a chance. If reported fears of eye-bleedingly bad football come to life then let’s have a laugh at it all. Let’s appreciate it for whatever it turns out to be. And finally, let’s get behind England and Sam because imagine if they won a tournament together and you chose not to watch it out of protest against his appointment.
Gavin (I also want to get away from this ‘Big Sam = Brexit’ stuff, it’s damaging) Hill, Malton


The verdict from the US
You just hired Sam Allardyce as the manager of your national team.


No, seriously, good luck with all of…..


Just give me a moment to compose my…..


At least you don’t have to worry about inflated expectations for the world cup. So you have that going for you, which is nice.


On Mr Pogba
Big time reader, novice writer (never been published . . . I think) but felt compelled to respond to Keg’s ludicrous letter about Juventus being, I believe c***s was the charming way he put it, over this Pogba saga.

Firstly, Juventus are, at the moment, a way better team than Man Untied. Obviously Mourinho changes things, but I would chose that Juventus squad (and guaranteed Champions League Football) nine times out of ten. I think most players would count their lucky stars to play for them, not the other way around.

Secondly, you even highlight the fact that United are desperate to RE-sign Pogba, and are willing to pay well over the odds to get him. Juventus are fully aware of this, why not get 100+ million for a player worth at most 60-70 million. They get enough money to buy a more than adequate replacement with change, and although they lose a player they (probably) don’t want to lose, they are being well compensated to do so.

They’re smart, they’re playing the game, and they’re winning. Get over it!
Néill (Chuba is the only striker we need), Ireland

P.S. I say Pogba cherishes those Serie A titles, that apparently ain’t sh*t, more than being deemed less than Rafael


Manchester United are about to spend €120m on Pogba.

Dundalk FC just received a windfall of €1.2m for reaching the Champions League 2nd qualifying round.

Dundalk were given €120k for winning the League of Ireland last season!

Just some perspective on that Pogba fee
Sean THFC, Dublin


Have Boro had the best window so far?
Just a quick one to say that you have missed one of Boros signings from your completed transfers page – Gaston Ramirez! I know what you’re thinking, but he really was fantastic for us at the end of last season.

Great transfer window so far for Boro, possibly the best transfer window in the Premier League so far considering respective positions and money spent?


Swansea had the best Euros
In yesterday’s mailbox, Tom Saints asked if anyone could name a club that had a more successful tournament than Southampton.

I would like to nominate my club, Swansea City, if not as the best club of the Euros then certainly as the overachievers of the tournament. We sent four players; all of which reached at least the quarter finals and played a significant part for their respective countries. Swansea were also the joint 5th most successful club in terms of goals scored at Euro 2016 (which I think is quite good).

We provided players for the two most notable overachievers; Wales and Iceland. Wales had Neil Taylor and Ashley Williams, who played every minute and even scored a goal each in the process. Gylfi Sigurdsson did the same for Iceland.

I think Lukasz Fabianski had a good tournament too. He played in every game except the opener for Poland, conceding just two goals in his four games (including two periods of extra time).

And if we are being generous then we should get a bonus point for Eder’s suprise winning goal in the final, he was a Swansea player until May of last season.

Keep up the good work Football365!
Sam M, Swansea


No, Norwich did
Okay Tom Saints, I’ll bite. My team, Norwich City, had a more successful (certainly pound for pound) Euros than Southampton. Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady obviously enjoyed starring, goal scoring roles for the Republic, and while Sweden had a poor campaign, Martin Olsson excelled at full back. Kyle Lafferty may not have had the impact for Northern Ireland he had in the qualifiers, but we’ve just signed his team mate Michael McGovern, who was for some pundits the goalkeeper of the tournament (and will hopefully wrestle the no.1 jersey from the hapless, ex-England John Ruddy). So there, hardly setting the continent alight, but not too shabby for a championship club (gulp, groan, sniff, pffff)
Richard, NCFC


Big names in strange places
After watching Rafa Benitez looking incredibly sad on the sidelines at the Keepmoat Stadium last night (the home of Doncaster Rovers), it got me wondering about other big names who fellow mailboxers have seen in unlikely places.

As a Donny fan for many years I remember having Ian Snodin, Steve Nicol, Neville Southall and John Sheridan all playing non league football in what felt like some kind of fever dream at the time. Also, an honourable mention must go to Chris Waddle playing at Belle Vue (our old ground), for Worksop Town, in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup…

My all time favourite though has to be David May. Back at the start of the 02-03 season, Rovers played a Manchester United XI in a pre season friendly. Disappointingly, their starting line up consisted of a squad of youth players… and David May. At some point in the first half, the enthusiastic defender came over to the byline to take a throw in, only for one of our fans to shout ‘Bloody hell… your life’s gone to shit David May!’.

May tried to remain stoic but the despair on his face was clear for all to see. God bless lower league football…
Rob Johnson


Lovely stadiums
My favourite stadium is the Mestalla, Valencia’s home ground. It’s only 55,000 but with its verticality is so impressive. I just discovered they are building a new stadium at a cost of up to 300 million Euros. The new capacity? 61,000! What a travesty and seemingly a colossal waste of time and money.

I hope the new stadium (if it’s ever finished, financial problems have plagued the development since 2008) retains the vertical stands. I think it’s this verticality that makes the Spanish stadiums better than ones in Britain. Old Trafford is monstrous but doesn’t seem it because of the angle which the upper stands are built. The Bernabeu only holds around 5,000 more than OT but the way it’s designed makes it seem a lot bigger.

Somewhat related – I have seen photos of the Olympic stadium with the retractable seats and it looks fantastic for West Ham but I wonder how they’ll get on with their fans being so far from the pitch. For United, grounds like Upton Park, Goodison and Anfield are all horrible because the fans are so close to the pitch and they get so up for it when United come to town. The atmosphere is incredibly hostile and the players respond to that and give us absolutely no time on the ball at all. I think West Ham might lose some of that edge.
Silvio Dante


Premier League champions
I was quite astounded to learn that this team has 46 Premier League titles between them.

T. Kuszczak (3)

W. Brown (5)
J. Evans (3)
J. O’Shea (5)
M. Silvestre (3)

D. Fletcher (5)
P. Neville (6)
Anderson (4)

P. Ji Sung (4)
W. Rooney (5)
L. Sharpe (3)
Naz, Gooner.


Mr Arsenal <3
I read with great pleasure your icon profile of Mr. Arsenal the one and only Tony Adams. I will say that I worshipped this guy on all levels. I was a few years older than Tony when he started playing so I got to enjoy it all. His playing helped me when I played (obviously at a much lower level) but his life also helped me. We are very similar in some ways, both dealt with depression, both dealt with it badly, both drank, and both got through it. Tony wasn’t the sole reason I got through it of course, but he helped hugely, even if he doesn’t know it.

I loved watching Tony play, he was just outstanding player for me he is and always will be Mr Arsenal. I love Arsenal and its players, but Tony is my all-time favorite. Other players may get more adulation, but none of them truly bleed Arsenal like he does. I believe him when he says he would make the tea if they asked him, it’s the guy he is. I was really happy to hear he will be taking the slot left by Henry. I hope he enjoys it, I believe he will as he seems to truly like helping other people.

Anyway thanks for doing a portrait of a guy who I think is underappreciated outside of Arsenal, but in my home is a god.
Wade (love his statue too) Gunner forever


Love for Storey
I’ve been reading F365 since the last millennium. And in that time, John Nicholson has been allowed to plug every book/t-shirt venture he’s done at the bottom of all his articles. I sincerely hope he’s done well out of it.

But poor Dan Storey, he of the always-being-praised-in-the-mailbox “Icons” series, doesn’t ever seem to be allowed to link to his “Football Fives” podcast at the end of his articles. From listening to our Dan on said podcast, I can only imagine that he’s too afraid to ask his boss for permission to do so.

For the uninitiated, it’s a weekly hour-ish-long podcast where Storey shows his football nerd credentials by getting habitually bullied by three bigger boys (including the softly-spoken Northern Irelander) during a chat about the football. They’re a good bunch of lads though, and one of them even said something nice to me on Twitter once, so that’s all the motivation you need really. Plus, what else are you going to be doing on the days when the more famous footy podcasts don’t have an episode out?
Dave (not Dan’s mum) Lillis, Dublin

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