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Sam The Man: But Is He Right For England?

August 29, 2016

- Grant Whittington

If ever a footballer carried his playing style into management, it was new England boss Sam Allardyce. A no-nonsense and tough-tackling centre-back in his prime, Allardyce was affectionately referred to as ‘Super Sam Bionic Man’ during his playing career due to the way he used to bounce back from rugged, physical collisions.

Make no mistake; this resilience and strength has served Allardyce well over the course of a fluctuating and intriguing managerial career. As a man with immense belief talent who has never quite managed to fulfil his true potential as a manager, Allardyce has finally been given the chance to achieve everything he wants and more with the national team.

A Look back in time: How has Allardyce become the manager he is today?

This is so long as he can strike the right balance with the Three Lions, of course, and harness the raw talent that exists within the playing squad. The role certainly represents the culmination of years of hard work for Allardyce, who started his managerial career in 1990 when he took the helm at West Bromwich. He was sacked less than a year later, however, after Isthiman side Woking thrashed the Baggies 4-2 at the Hawthorns in one of the great FA Cup shocks.

After learning his trade with Limerick, Preston and Blackpool, Allardyce first came to prominence during a successful spell with struggling Division Two club Notts County. After the club were relegated to the third-tier in 1997, Allardyce rebuilt the club around a three-man defence and led County to the title by a record margin of 19 points. County also became the first post-war side to win promotion in March, underlining the achievement of Allardyce as a manager.

In 1999, Allardyce joined Division One side Bolton Wanders,who at the time boasted players such as Eidur Gudjohsen and Ricardo Gardener. After successful cup runs and a failed promotion tilt the following year, Allardyce invested heavily in the clubs facilities and back-room operations, creating a platform that enabled the Trotters to return to the top-flight in 2000. Then came Allardyce’s golden period as a manager, as he led Bolton to a sixth-place finish in the EPL, a League Cup final and to the cusp of the Champions League places.

Then and Now: Allardyce as England Manager

When Big Sam left Bolton, it was because then-chairman Phil Gartside would not back Allardyce’s ambition and invest in a Champions League push. He has since struggled to fulfil his potential elsewhere, either, failing in an ill-advised stint as Newcastle manager before enjoying mixed results and Blackburn and West Ham. While he did well to maintain Sunderland’s top-flight status last term, he will want to achieve loftier goals as the England boss.

For him to become successful and lead England, he will undoubtedly need to tap into his successful tenure as Bolton manager. More specifically, he must combine attention to detail and organisation skills with the ability to harness talented stars, which was the secret to Bolton’s push for the UCL places in 2007. This meld of skills could help the Three Lions to finally fill the deficiencies that exist within their playing squad, while also creating a unified team rather than a collection of egos and individuals.

September will see Allardyce’s England bow, and while we all expect England to beat Slovakia the new manager cannot be judged until he leads his side to a major tournament. Then, and only then, will we know for sure whether Big Sam is the manager that he has always believed he was.

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