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England, Allardyce And The Human Prune

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The Nation has raged, the bookies have spoken and the Football Association are dragging their heels. It's fair to say that a betting man could see another storm on Sunderland's horizon, one which we may well not able to weather. Let's look at why.

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Let's get the obvious out of the way first - England's national team are a load of bollocks. At Euro 2016 they defended poorly, they dithered in the final third and, well, we all saw it coming didn't we?

Hodgson's squad choice was poor and he clearly had no tactical plan other than "pass it to the bloke on the highest wages."

Obviously a lot has been said on the subject of the Euros but now we can step back from that and focus on the transfer window and a well-deserved couple of years of stability for our beloved club.

Oh, wait! No, we can't.

If you haven't been under a rock for the last week you'll have noticed the rash of England managerial candidates being passed around the headlines like some ol' fashioned tiki-taka. According to most of these 'sources' our man Big Sam is in the running for the job. I've even heard it said that there is a clause in his contract to allow for such things, should England come calling. If you've read his autobiography, so creatively entitled "Big Sam" you'll know how badly he wants that job. If not, Google 'Sam Allardyce best english manager'. You'll find it woefully soon.

Now of course bookmakers aren't known for lending you a helping hand in a financial sense - they are the House and you are the punter. They want you to lose and so a plethora of names and odds will be given, along with false or at best candid sources with reasons as to why such events would take place. Indeed, this article could well be considered one of those sources, so I am not here to tell you that Sam Allardyce will be offered or accept the role as England manager. No, I am here to tell you why that would be a bad, bad, terrible, unbelievably rotten thing.

For too many years Sunderland AFC have been aptly named "perennial strugglers." That is one of the nicest ways it has been put in all honesty, as performances, managers, players, agents, chairmen and owners have all been ghastly at one time or another. Most of the time, in fact.

So it was with great aplomb that Mr. Short managed to convince Sam Allardyce to lead us away from trouble and on to that promised land of glorious mid-table anonymity. I believe there are very few Sunderland fans that would demand or expect a manager with a better pedigree than Sam. Personally, I have felt that there has been a general atmosphere of hope and belief for the next few seasons under his guidance. His moves in the January transfer window were, frankly, stellar and we wait with baited breath to see what gems he can dust off, train up and mould into the hearty fighters and creative, pacey attackers that we have seen a glimmer of since he made his first mark on the squad.

The general consensus is that Sam Allardyce himself has in fact been the best bit of transfer business we've done since... well, I would probably say both buying and selling Asamoah Gyan. Of course, the selling part would have been far more widely applauded had we not spent it on players not fit to wear the shirt. Nonetheless, it was great business. Until we bought Sam.

If we lose him now, who replaces him?

Again referring to above-mentioned "sources" we could see, and remember this is worst case scenario, the Human Prune that is Roy Hodgson come our way. Some quotes I've read in unaccountably respected tabloids that Hodgson's club record of "steering the Cottagers and Baggies away from relegation" would make him the perfect appointment for Sunderland. In essence - two steps forward, one step back.

But it isn't just the horrifying concept that we might get that Prune, nor any of the other managers touted in particular. The horrifying concept would be losing a man who quite clearly has ambitions and the tools to take the respectability of Sunderland AFC to another level the likes of which we haven't seen since that lovely but long-gone era of Peter Reid and our charge for European football.

We don't need fire-fighters. We need fire-safety inspectors, before the season starts, with a stable team that bears that mans mark and his and our own collective ethos as fans, symbiotically playing the beautiful game into a sparkling land of respectability and maybe even get some new trophies in the cabinet to boot.

I firmly believe that if we lose Sam Allardyce now, we will be relegated within two seasons. Short of Sir Alex Ferguson himself coming out of retirement with a wad of transfer cash and a penchant for wine grapes grown on vines in the very earth of the Stadium of Light, we would be relegated.

Another quick managerial change, another bad transfer window, another bad pre-season and another bad start would see this engine that is the Roker Roar stutter and jam up for years to come.

It is my opinion that Sam Allardyce and Sunderland AFC are now intrinsically linked. We have made a pact. We have a plan and we have the man that made it. My message is this - if we don't execute that plan and make every effort to tie that man down to a new, lucrative contract that pays him what he deserves, Sunderland AFC will be making a worse mistake than appointing Di Canio's player-agent of a mate to spend all of their money on dead wood we can't shift three years later for a fraction of their purchase price!

Still, that said, smile - it may never happen.