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Big Sam, Won't You Stay Another Day?

Murphy’s Law is a good one to follow when it comes to Sunderland. “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Fred Duval/Getty Images

How many times have we been on the verge of something special only to have it cruelly snatched away from us, leaving us in this constant cycle of battling relegation?

At the turn of the millennium Peter Reid had us playing exciting, high tempo football, Quinn and Phillips were banging them in for fun and we were a few players away from mounting a serious European challenge. Just two years after securing consecutive seventh placed finishes we were relegated with a record low nineteen points and were the laughing stock of the top flight.

After long win-less runs under Steve "wah finished 10th" Bruce, Martin O’Neill replaced him and guided us to an FA cup quarter final, leaving us comfortably safe well before the season's end. Before long, though, a series of depressing performances and defeats left us in yet another relegation scrap in the following season, and O'Neill was relieved of his duties.

In fairness to Bruce (and possibly every other manager we’ve had in recent years), there have been times of great optimism.  Roy Keane brought belief back to a team and fanbase that had almost forgotten that we belonged in the Premier League, before questionable signings and a strained relationship with the owner cost him his job. Steve Bruce gave us great memories, such as the 3-0 win away at Chelsea, but he failed to address a mid-season slump and his bitter media ramblings since leaving Wearside have soured his reputation with the Sunderland supporters.

Gus Poyet took us to Wembley and pulled off the greatest of great escapes whilst playing some fantastic football towards the end of the 2013-2014 season, but again things unravelled quickly.

So, we should know better than to get overly optimistic ahead of the new season, shouldn’t we?

Well, finally it seems that we have a manager who just gets it. In previous seasons the "great escapes" have been just that - inexplicable upsurges in form in the last few games.

Despite the late heroics of Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat there were still times where you wanted to tear your hair out. There was still a sense that the players weren’t quite giving it their all until it really mattered. There was just something missing in the connection between the players and the supporters.

But from January onwards things were different, the victories over Everton and Chelsea were no flukes. After the signings of Kone, Kirchhoff and Khazri there was a huge upturn in performances and we lost just two matches from the start of February.

More importantly, the players seemed to feel genuinely happy to play for the club - during the lap of appreciation a number of them were emotionally moved and overwhelmed by the support they received.

The future looks bright, and although things have been quiet in the transfer window of late, Allardyce has a very good track record at the majority of the clubs he’s been at. Kirchhoff looks set to sign a new deal and will benefit immensely from a proper pre-season, as would Yann M'Vila should he sign on a permanent basis.

But, just as things were starting to look rosy on Wearside, England had to go and get beat by Iceland causing the FA to knock the not so wise old owl off his perch. Naturally, this has led to speculation over Sam Allardyce taking over as England manager. In the past few days he has gone from an outsider to the bookies favourite and according to The Independent, he is the only English option on the FA's shortlist.

If he was to get offered the England job this would have catastrophic consequences for Sunderland. All the momentum we have carried from last season would immediately be killed, and the club would be looking for yet another new manager, once again damaging the optimism of the fans.

Even if he didn’t get offered the job, the speculation is not healthy for the club. All the focus should be on new signings and preparing the team for the forthcoming season. With Allardyce’s future being in the balance, players would be more reluctant to sign and making a good start to the season would prove trickier.

The FA aren’t even set to reconvene to discuss options until the 23rd of July, by which time the new season will be less than three weeks away.

Therefore, the Sunderland hierarchy has only one option - we must prevent Murphy’s Law from rearing its ugly head again.

This can only be done by sitting down with Allardyce, presenting him with a blank cheque book and asking him to name his price.

This may seem very drastic considering many managers before him have achieved the same in terms of keeping us up. But this is the best chance we have had in years to build on the momentum generated over the second half of last season and frankly, if Allardyce was to leave I'd find it hard to ever love again.

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