It’s been (yet another) sad week in English football as Big Sam has left the building. Should we even be surprised, asks Jen Offord.
As the sun set on Tuesday evening, it was also sundown for Sam Allardyce’s career as England manager – after just 67 days at the helm of our great sporting super power. *chortles* Allardyce, it seems, likes money very much, more so in fact than having the job most English people with a passing interest in football sort of want.
The depressing development follows a depressing year/21 years in English football. Allardyce bagged what has been referred to by many a pundit as his ‘dream job’ following the departure of Roy Hodgson after England’s much-maligned Euro 2016 campaign. After which it also transpired that, as well as not being very good at managing the team, at £3.5m a year Hodgson was being paid more – by a country mile – than any other manager in the competition.
In the wake of his prompt post-tournament disappearing act, the FA announced a lengthy post-mortem of where it had all gone wrong for England (where it always does: bad manager, bad media, bad morale). It quickly realised there was really no one left standing to swig from the poisoned chalice, given that Arsene Wenger elected to stay on at Arsenal (for what will doubtless be another fruitless season).
No one but Big Sam, the man who oversaw Sunderland’s successful relegation dogfight last year. Which must make him a decent candidate, right?
If England managers were appointed in the manner of an X-Factor bootcamp, Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell would have been arguing furiously over the selection. Let’s face it; this was one of those occasions where Simon humoured Louis, because Allardyce was never right for everyone’s band. He was bullish, he was outspoken and he was rumoured to have had his fingers in some pretty dodgy pies in the past. Still, he was at least, English.
One tepid match in England’s qualifying campaign for the next World Cup later, and Big Sam was already sealing his fate as England’s shortest-serving football manager. Approached by a couple of virtual strangers, who would OF COURSE turn out to be journalists for The Telegraph, Allardyce was getting pretty outspoken pretty quickly about his predecessor, whose speech impediment he mocked, calling him “Woy”, before hammering him for being too influenced by assistant coach Gary Neville.
“It’s hard to be angry with Allardyce, despite his loose grasp of ethics, because it’s just so daft. To cock something up so badly, in a way that could realistically end his career in football full stop, makes it almost impossible not to feel sorry for him.”
Two Christmas cards fewer each year probably wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world, though a bit embarrassing for the institution of the FA – his bosses – whose judgement his criticism was calling out. Judgement it seemed he had good reason to question after the newspaper sting then revealed Allardyce – in the bending of some (fairly tedious) rules – went on to give advice on how to ‘get around’ the FA’s own regulations on third-party ownership in exchange for a substantial sum.
“Give him a chance to explain himself!” said a few, including Harry Redknapp. To be honest, I thought it was awkward when the Chuckle Brothers were called upon to testify in favour of Dave Lee Travis’s character, but when the owner of an offshore account in his dog’s name is defending your grasp of morality, well… Of course, Allardyce’s situation was untenable, and so it was apparently agreed between him and the FA that he would pack his bags.
There’s so much about this to be irritated by: the cloud it casts over the promised rejuvenation of the England team; the outright stupidity, and the absolutely contemptuous greed of it all.
It’s hard to be angry with Allardyce, despite his loose grasp of ethics, because it’s just so daft. To cock something up so badly, in a way that could realistically end his career in football full stop, makes it almost impossible not to feel sorry for him. And of course, if we consider football’s overlords FIFA and the wider picture, just where the fuck is football’s moral compass anyway if it’s not lodged somewhere firmly up former President Sepp Blatter’s rectum?
Money and power corrupt – this is not a new concept – and there’s a lot of money in football. Admittedly it’s probably not being seen by the dudes working on 2022 World Cup host’s Qatar’s stadium, the guys who The Guardian revealed in 2013 were working as modern-day slaves, with their passports allegedly routinely confiscated, among other questionable human rights practices.
Perhaps it’s once again pertinent to consider the comparable absence of wealth in women’s sport as we approach Women’s Sport Week, which starts on 3 October. Maybe when tabloid hacks start trying to bribe Chelsea Ladies’ manager Emma Hayes (or her few and far between fellow female coaches) to exert influence, that’s when we’ll know we’ve made it.
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Jen is a writer from Essex, which isn’t relevant because she lives in London, but she likes people to know it. As well as daft challenges, she likes cats, cheese and Beyonce. @inspireajen