We all need to swallow the Allardyce pill

Date published: Monday 18th July 2016 9:09

You know the feeling, right? The side you hated most in an election goes and bloody well wins. It’s horrible and it’s dark and it feels like the end of the world. You walk through the streets glaring at people, knowing many of them have put these dreadful a**eholes into power. Them. They did it. How dare they? The fools.

The people you hate most, the people who you loathe to your very core, people who you know are a vicious stew of the venal, the incompetent, the naive, the mendacious and the dumb-as-lard blowhards, have got hold of the reins of power and it’s all the fault of those who walk beside you. You snarl, you sneer and it is profoundly depressing. In the eight general elections, two Holyrood elections and two referendums I’ve voted in, the side I voted for has only won four times. Four out of 12 is a poor win ratio, but at least it is 4% better than Sam Allardyce’s at Sunderland.

But what can you do? It eats you up for a while, as you can’t find a place to put the despair. But then you look for silver linings, because that’s what you do. And the one I’ve clung onto for so long, after eight losing votes, has been the sure knowledge that whatever dunderheed has been put into power will, sooner rather than later, make an almighty cock of it, become a hated figure, even by most of those who stupidly voted for them. OK, they may have devastated the country by then, but at least that pleasure awaits. Out of the ashes, hopefully, a better world can grow and then, in some way, even though you’ve lost, soon, you will have won. I do realise the limitations of this, but have you got anything better?

Conversely, on the odd occasion when your side wins, you immediately begin to worry because now they’ve got to live up to your expectations. Surely they will. Surely they won’t let you down and prove to be as useless as so many people said they would be. Surely they won’t be all mouth and trousers. Oh god. What if you’re one of those idiots they were all glaring at on the day after the election?

Our lesson here is this; sometimes it’s worse to be on a winning side that proves to be terrible, than be on the losing side and never knowing how the one you supported would have done. You, at least, still have the right to dream.

Big Sam’s acolytes have lived off this principle for ten years, forever pointing to their man every time an England manager failed. Big Sam wouldn’t have done that, they said. Guaranteed. He’d not have made that mistake. No way. And, of course, no-one can ever know.

Let’s cling to this principle with all our strength, because, actually if you think about it, those of us who have long shuddered in horror at Allardyce being the England manager have absolutely nothing to lose when he is appointed. Nothing at all. Let’s just bloody well get this done and out of the way. As Sarah said last week, let’s have The Full Big Sam. Bring it on, in all it’s lumpy, gravy-stained, blood pudding fashion.

If he turns out to be the answer to all our problems, fine. Then at least we get to see a successful England side. I, for one, can put up with the tabloid hero worship. If he wins, there’s hope for all of us.

If he doesn’t, then all of the Proper Football Men in the game, all of the ex-players and journalists who have spent so long telling us how modern he is just because he used technology that was modern in 2004 and because he ‘understands the English game’ will take an almighty kick to the metaphysical bollocks and will have to endure us all jabbing our fingers at them and saying, “I bloody told you, signing Jay Jay Okocha 14 (yes 14!) years ago isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card you can play forever to prove that you’re not dedicated to playing boring football.”

The pro-Sam arguments are the same ones that have been made since 2006. I won’t bother to reiterate them, you know them well enough. Weird that they’ve not moved on since then. That suggests atrophy not progression. But even so, let’s get this done and out of the way. Sometimes bitter pills have to be swallowed just to prove that Smarties are much nicer.

Imagine how great it will feel to see everything we always said about Big Sam come true. Of course even if his results are worse than his predecessors, some will still try to tell us how great they are, but eventually, as England fail to impress once more, even they will have no-one to bleat about, no-one to blame, no tired old excuses about morale, tactics, training or lack of turbo-charged vibrating plates (sorry, but in my mind’s eyes all I can see is Allardyce being interviewed pre-game in about 2006, and in the background was Kev Nolan on said plate, shuddering like your mam diggin’ the spin dryer)

There is a chance that the Allardyce regime will be so horrible it would make the idea of any other manager of his ilk, vaunted by the popular press as a simplistic solution to a complex issue, an utterly ridiculous notion. At least for a decade or so, just as it did after the Kevin Keegan disastrous regime, an appointment clamoured for by the PFM army.

But then again, if England win and win big under him, I shall be the first to celebrate it and the first to say I voted the wrong way. It hasn’t happened yet in politics, but in football, you never know. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m still hoping it turns out OK for the ludicrous dumbass never-tire-of-punching-in-the-face swollen wart hog-potato hybrid. But that’s enough about the Foreign Secretary.

Sometimes, though it might not feel like it, losing is really just winning deferred.


John Nicholson

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