In 1977 Don Revie left England and sailed off into football's wilderness. Unlike Sam Allardyce, Revie had the backing of the FA as he initially tried to wangle his way out of England and into the sunny climbs of the United Arab Emirates. That backing was immediately withdrawn when the former Leeds United manager brought the game into disrepute by exclusively revealing to the Daily Mail that he was to leave as England manager, earning himself £20,000 in the process. Losing the job via a newspaper with vast sums of money being involved, sounds familiar.
I would be doing a disservice to Revie to directly compare him to Sam Allardyce. For one, Revie was in charge of England for three years rather than just 67 days, Allardyce's time in charge of England actually being closer to mirroring Revie's Leeds successor Brian Clough and his 44 days in charge. The former was also much more decorated throughout his managerial career, winning two First Division titles with Leeds, along with the FA Cup and the League Cup. Despite becoming a solid, respected Premier League manager, Allardyce has never even came close to hitting such heights.
You can draw similarities in both managers characters though. Big, boisterous, suffer no fools personalities with plenty of friends in the media. Allardyce probably was/is the Revie of his generation. How much both men could be persuaded by, and evening using, filthy lucre is most startlingly alike though. Controversy had followed Revie throughout his managerial career with accusations of him offering bribes to managers such as Bob Stokoe to throw games. Big Sam may have not been accused of acts on this scale but an undercover investigation by the BBC in 2006 into whether he'd accepted "bungs" and the reasons for his sacking as England manager certainly paint a dark picture.
You would have thought that the FA would have taken their predecessors mistakes into account when appointing Allardyce. That would be something too close to resembling common sense for the FA though. In terms of on the pitch, Allardyce was definitely the kind of manager England needed, it was a good appointment from that perspective. As an ambassador for the entire footballing organisation of this country, is he what you want though? He may actually represent the practises of some FA chiefs but they're not daft enough to get caught out with it, if that is indeed the case.
Surely the FA must have known there was this risk? The fact that the sacking was handled so quickly does make me wonder if they had some kind of "disrepute" clause in the middle of Allardyce's contract. No way would he walk away from his dream job so quickly and quietly unless they had him bang to rights. It may seem like a trivial thing to lose his job over but Allardyce should never have been so naive and stupid, especially a bloke like him who you would think would be wise enough now to avoid such activities and especially with the higher amount of scrutiny he's now under. The ego is the making of a man like Big Sam though and his new job probably made him foolish enough to feel invincible. No England manager has ever been invincible when it comes to the British media.
Where does everyone go from here then? The FA will be fine and by "fine" I mean they'll operate at the same level of incompetence they usually do. Someone like Alan Pardew will get the job, we'll qualify for Russia and maybe reach the quarter finals. Some NFL will be played at Wembley, in the meantime, chipping away at that Wembley debt. Nothing to see here.
About 260 miles north of Wembley, the effects of Sam Allardyce's tenure are felt a little differently. A whole preseason was torn to shreds, a squad was dismantled, a manager of lesser confidence has came replaced him, agents have unsettled players, another relegation battle has begun and what for? For one game against Slovakia. Every bit of good feeling has been sapped from Sunderland just for one game against Slovakia. The summer where Sunderland actually stayed up with a good team and only needed a few added bits of quality didn't get to happen, just for one game against Slovakia. This actually makes me feel a bit angry at Sam Allardyce for being so stupid.
It would have actually been a bizarre kind of comfort had Allardyce done well with England, no matter what happened to Sunderland. I didn't begrudge him leaving, England was always his dream and when they came calling, he was always going to answer. The way it dragged on was frustrating but I still understood that he couldn't turn down the challenge. When I saw his beaming grin during his first interview I thought "fair enough, you can't knock him and at least he's left us in a better place than when he came in."
To throw it all away so cheaply though. For an extra £400k to potentially go on top of his three year deal at £3 million a year, not to mention the money he's amassed throughout his career and the huge pay off he received from Newcastle United. Is that how much a dream job is worth? Less than what he would earn in two months for doing that job? I'm glad I know how much that dream job meant to Allardyce and how it was worth potentially relegating Sunderland.
Sunderland may not get relegated, of course but they have been destabilised. It's all been for nothing as well. They'll be the ones picking up the post Allardyce pieces for longer than the FA. I want Sunderland to remain in the Premier League even more than I already did, just so this isn't the catastrophic crescendo to a chaotic top flight stint. When we eventually do succumb to the drop, I want it to be on our own terms.
The only sympathy I feel for Allardyce is his mental state as no money in the world will comfort him now. I hope his family provide a strong support network for him and maybe it's best if he turns his back on football for a while. The football world will continue to turn without him and in this brave new world of fast paced, footballing controversy, this story will be forgotten about as soon as a referee gives away a controversial penalty this weekend. One minute you're on top of the world, the next you're just another forgotten manager.
Sam Allardyce always managed to shake off any controversy that followed him in football, be it on the pitch or off it. Just like Don Revie, he has been his own worst enemy and can only blame himself for this failure. It will probably be a long time before we see Sam in football again, if we ever do. For Sam Allardyce and Sunderland, this dream has been a nightmare.
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