The news that Big Sam is bringing his tenure on Wearside to a premature end after nine months has left a sour taste in Black Cats fans mouths, particularly with the manner in which the FA have handled it.
However, the popularity of Allardyce in Sunderland cannot be denied. Not since his days at Bolton Wanderers has Big Sam had the full backing of a set of fans, until now, and today he has walked away to take a job that many feel within the media and social media he is not good enough for.
You can see it everywhere you look, memes of Sam in a chip shop or laughing at Chico Flores, the media are already beginning to portray Big Sam as a joke. This is highly disrespectful to a manager who has been a mainstay in the English game for fifteen years. Allardyce’s trophy cabinet may well be significantly empty, however, what trophies don’t show you is how he has transformed every club he has had long enough to manage.
Starting at Bolton Wanderers, Allardyce made his name at the Reebok, guiding them to the Premier League and establishing them as a mid-table side. It was during this time that Big Sam was touted for the England job, however, he missed out on the chance and he moved on with his career. Allardyce was loved by the Bolton fans; he had brought their club from mediocrity, attracted players such as Jay-Jay Okocha and established stability within the club. It is no surprise that Bolton went downhill as soon as Big Sam left. Allardyce had an aspiration to progress his career at a bigger club, sadly that was not to be and Big Sam had to settle for Newcastle United. The Geordie’s were never fully behind Big Sam, he was under pressure to succeed, this was his first test at being at a club that may not actually want him there. Unsurprisingly Allardyce’s time on Tyneside did not last and he was sacked with his reputation tarnished - a similar situation to what David Moyes is in now.
Following a disastrous time for the Magpies, Allardyce returned to management at Blackburn Rovers. This spell began well but soon ended as poorly as his previous job, surprisingly being sacked by the club as they lay in 13th. New owners and unrealistic ambitions led to the club going in a different direction, like his two previous employers, they now find themselves in the Championship. The fans were never really fully behind Big Sam, his footballing style and poor signings had caused a split in the faithful.
After six months out of the game, Big Sam joined West Ham and guided them back to the Premier League. Allardyce, like during his time at Bolton, got the Hammers promoted, established them in the top-flight and put his stamp on the squad with some top quality players. However, unlike his time at Bolton, Allardyce was not appreciated in London, his style of play did not sit well with the expectations of Hammers' fans and although the club finished in 10th, 13th and 12th places in the top flight, there was a mutual parting of ways in May of last year.
This brings us to October of last year, Big Sam was the man Sunderland fans wanted, we took him in and in return he brought us premier league safety. Not since 2007 had Allardyce felt the love and full support from the crowd. The Black Cats fans got behind him and his team, they brought us a brand of football that many had criticised in the past, yet in the eyes of Wearsiders it was a huge improvement.
Finally, Sunderland had a manager who the fans were fully behind, he was the man who could take us forward and stabilise the club. Big Sam has made no secret in the past about his desire to manage England one day, and it would be tough to begrudge him for taking the job despite the poor timing of the ordeal.
However, the news that Big Sam is replacing Roy Hodgson hasn’t been received well by many.
The England job appears to be a poisoned chalice, many have tried and all have failed to bring success back to these shores. Big Sam is the next man to try his hand and fulfil his lifelong wish to manage his country. That said, with the intense pressure of the job, the lack of identity in the squad and the poor backing from the fans, I’d be careful what you wish for Sam.