When a country has to fire it’s national team manager just 67 days after hiring him after an undercover sting operation on corruption in English football, it’s hard to imagine anything positive coming from that. At the moment, English football is in turmoil. Fans thought it couldn’t get any worse after losing to Iceland at last summer’s European Championship, and now here they are.
But with Sam Allardyce and England choosing to part ways by ‘mutual consent’ England now have a very rare opportunity for a mulligan. Allardyce was not the right manager for England and the FA now have a chance to fix that.
The appointment of Allardyce as England manager wasn’t all that surprising. There was a very loud group of English fans calling for Big Sam to be the FA’s selection.
The reasoning however was far from convincing. Many fans backed the decision as they felt Allardyce was a manager that would command the players’ respect, something many fans felt former manager Roy Hodgson couldn’t do.
From a purely football perspective the appointment of Allardyce was a little baffling. Big Sam is not a big-time manager. He’s a manager who seems to specialize in avoiding relegation, often taking over teams towards the bottom of the Premier League and doing just enough to keep them in the Premier League.
As a manager, Allardyce has won just 36.4 percent of the matches he’s been in charge for. Of course that number can be explained by the fact that Allardyce is usually in charge of teams that lack talent, but isn’t that the point? Big Sam has never had to manager talents like Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling or Dele Alli. Allardyce has never before had to figure out if he’s better off playing his best names, or trying to squeeze someone like Danny Drinkwater into the team. He’s never managed a team that’s had to make a decision on what to do with a player like Wayne Rooney.
Allardyce was simply the wrong choice for the job. He has no experience with big clubs mainly because no big club has ever offered a job. Beyond all that, Allardyce represents exactly what’s wrong with England. He got the job not because he was the best man available, but because he was among the best English men available.
That archaic view of the FA, as well as many English fans, that the manager of England needs to be English has been one of the major reasons England has been unable to keep up with the rest of Europe on the field.
England are in a time of transition and a state of flux. They need a manager who can look to the future and help them make progress. While Allardyce won his only game in charge of England, in that one game he also demonstrated that he is not the man to change things.
After a disastrous Euro 2016 that should have been a wake up call for changes to be made, Allardyce barely made any. He kept Rooney as captain, and instead of looking for the future to turn things around he looked to the past. The lone bright spot of Euro 2016 for England, Marcus Rashford, was sent to the U-21s, while Allardyce’s plan for fixing the defense was to call John Terry and see if he could convince him to come out of retirement.
It would be a little ridiculous to say the FA received a blessing by having a scandal that allowed them to fire Allardyce fall into their laps, especially since the FA can’t exactly be trusted to make the right decision regarding anything, but that’s pretty much what happened. Instead of waiting two years for England to flame out of the World Cup once again, they can find a manager who can take them into the future now.
England are now in a position where they can find a manager who can right the wrongs of Big Sam. His first act should be removing the captain’s armband from Wayne Rooney, or at the very least dropping him from the starting XI. It’s time for England to take their young stars such as Dele Alli, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, and Harry Kane, and build the team around them. Put them all on the field and find a formation that benefits all of them, rather than trying to plug all of them into a pre-determined system.
Like many English managers before him, Allardyce was a manager stuck in the past, convinced he had to rely on the big names to make England great. In one game he showed he’s not the forward thinker that England need. Now is their chance to right the wrong of hiring him.