Tuesday 28 February 2017

John Giles: Old school Sam Allardyce stung by his own flawed instincts and inclinations

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John Giles

John Giles

Sam Allardyce at his home in Bolton today.
Sam Allardyce at his home in Bolton today.

AT the very least, Sam Allardyce has caused huge embarrassment to the English FA. At the very worst, he did enough to be sacked.

My first thought when I saw the newspaper ‘sting’ was simple enough. How could he be so stupid?

Not stupid because he was taken in by journalists posing as businessmen representing a Far Eastern firm but because he is earning £3m a year as England boss and was prepared to talk about ways of making ‘extra’ money.

Stupid because he spoke with these reporters about third party ownership which is forbidden by the English FA, how to bypass the rules and how agents could organise payments to managers.

Allardyce is old school and in this case, that means he comes from a tradition which left managers on the scrap heap and penniless.

When Don Revie’s career ended at Elland Road after 15 years he was on £15,000 a year after bringing untold riches to the club.  Stan Culis and Bill Shankly died penniless and broken and Bill Nicholson would have lost his house on his retirement, but for a testimonial organised by Wolves.

Against that background, it was hardly surprising that a culture of managers taking cuts from transfers developed and in a way, it was a reasonable response to unreasonable circumstances.

As manager’s salaries rose, particularly in the last decade, any remaining justification evaporated and yet the practice still appears to be widespread.

Most players just want to play and the money is so big these days that they need help from professionals to manage it all. They could never do it themselves.

There are a lot of good, upstanding people working on behalf of players but there is very clearly a significant body of operators who will do anything, inside or outside the rules, to maximise the return they get.

They need the cooperation of managers, club chairmen and owners to do their work.

Allardyce has not been caught with a bag of money or admitted to any serious financial wrong doing from what I can see and there is a risk that the English FA, among others, have rushed to judge him.

Apparently, this investigation began before his appointment as England boss but the video released by the Daily Telegraph sees him talking about Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville at Euro 2016 which will be deeply embarrassing to the EFA.

That said, I would be in full agreement with Allardyce’s observation that Neville should have been told to ‘shut up and sit down’.

I can’t help but contrast Allardyce with Jurgen Klopp who appeared on Sky’s Monday night show alongside Jamie Carragher and did very well, I thought.

In general, I don’t agree with managers who get involved with the media at this level in the middle of the season but I was happy to see that Klopp disappeared once the Burnley v Watford match started and didn’t fall into the trap of commenting on rivals.

What strikes me about Klopp is how well he handles himself while still managing to speak sense almost all of the time.

He’s a smart lad and I can’t imagine he would ever get sucked into a ‘sting’ or would ever have anything to be stung for.

I may be wrong, but I think this man is a football fanatic and money doesn’t mean a great deal to him.

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