SAM ALLARDYCE’S Wednesday really should have gone something like this.
Freshly-ground pot of morning coffee with his wife at their spacious Bolton home. Read a few papers, make a few phone calls to staff. Shower, shave, short drive to Manchester Airport for the shuttle up to Glasgow.
Meal at Celtic Park, watch Manchester City in Champions League action, chew a bit of fat with some footballing luminaries. Or something like that.
He will probably still be heading to the south side of Manchester at any rate. Probably to fly out to somewhere hot and warm. Probably on the other side of the Equator if possible, thousands of miles away from these scornful shores. That would be handy, along with a pair of dark glasses and a hat.
Several of Allardyce’s England’s predecessors have been guilty of self-harm. But the 61-year-old, someone who had seemingly been around the block in a footballing sense, has surpassed most.
One of the first commandments for England managers entering into what many deem to be the ‘impossible job’ is this. Thou shall be extremely wary of brazen talk while seemingly in the company of high-powered gentlemen in swish bars/eateries/hotels/business lounges in London, Manchester, continental Europe, the Far East, America. Wherever.
It should be etched in stone. Remember the ‘fake sheikh’ and all that.
The footage from the classic sting manufactured by the Daily Telegraph truly had to be seen to be believed. Here was England’s freshly anointed manager, barely weeks into his post, proferring advice to undercover newspaper reporters posing as businessmen on how to “get around” FA rules on player transfers - while also being alleged to have used his role to negotiate a deal worth £400,000 to represent a Far East firm.
You really could not make it up... Just how did Allardyce and his representatives not smell a king-sized rat. What is the point of ‘Team Allardyce’ otherwise? Why have agents and advisors?
It all comes down to judgment, especially when managing England when 24/7 should be sewn onto your tracksuit and not your initials. You are always on call.
For someone of his vast, vast experience in the game, Allardyce was so naive that it beggared belief. Talk about being done like a kipper.
He just couldn’t resist in laying himself open. A bit like the old-school centre-half who is on a warning, but still nibbles away at the centre-forward when the referee isn’t looking, only to eventually fall foul. A bit like Allardyce back in his playing days.
The sad thing is that the Midlander had fully earned his chance; his ‘dream job’ following a sound managerial career which had seen how work his way through the leagues and merge aspects of the old and the new. He was a ‘good age’ in international management terms too.
Long in the tooth, but clearly not wise.
Well liked in the managerial fraternity, those who are close to Allardyce along with his family will be shaking their heads disconsolately today. Big Sam. Daft Sam.