Monday 5 December 2016

Reality counts for little in Big Sam's promotion push

Published 19/09/2010 | 05:00

Self-praise is no praise. This mantra could be heard almost daily during my lengthy stints in the treatment room. It was the physio's way of reminding lads to keep a lid on their egos, while in his presence anyway. Clearly, not everyone involved in professional football would go along with this line of thinking. I've never had it confirmed once and for all, but I suspect Sam Allardyce definitely does not.

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The man has gifted us this past week with self-praising bullshit of the very highest calibre. If you have yet to hear it, sit back and enjoy . . .

"I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid . . . It wouldn't be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time. Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same, it wouldn't be a problem . . . It's not a problem to take me into the higher reaches of the Champions League or Premier League and [it] would make my job a lot easier in winning it."

I assume it was the latest effort in a lengthy and transparent campaign to position himself in the forefront of the minds of those charged with replacing Fabio Capello in two years. It may also have been a nod to the hierarchy at Old Trafford.

Either way, it came only days after he accused Arsene Wenger of attempting to manipulate the media for his own gain. Most amusing of all though, and probably most likely in my view -- the man may actually believe those words to be true.

It would be interesting to hear what his current squad at Blackburn Rovers make of his comments, though I assume none will speak out honestly in public. I know how I would react if my manager claimed I was of a level that was beneath him, and that he would be a league winner (not to mention Champions League winner) had it not been for the shortcomings of the rest of us in the dressing room.

Players and their performances are ultimately what keep managers in their job. Before further distancing himself from the supposed mediocrity of those around him, he would do well to keep that in mind. Phil Brown never recovered at Hull City when he tried to do just that by publicly scolding his players at half-time during a heavy defeat. It seems Allardyce is more than capable of filling the bullshit void left by Brown's departure.

Yet again, he voiced his concern that clubs seem unwilling to give managers sufficient time to succeed, particularly young English managers. Allardyce is in his current post due to his predecessor Paul Ince (young and English) getting the sack six months after his appointment. His failure at Newcastle United is attributed to the impatience of owner Mike Ashley, though I struggle to imagine how his style of play would endear himself to the owners of any club with the aim of winning a trophy anywhere.

If the English FA were to rule out foreigners from the top job when Capello leaves, Englishmen everywhere should be concerned. It is a measure of the lack of suitable candidates that Allardyce would be near the top of the shortlist, but would in no way increase the likelihood of an improvement

of any kind in the next World Cup. If talking up one's own credentials is a trait deemed necessary, he's your man. But if tactical prowess is a factor in any way, look elsewhere. Immediately.

He isn't the only manager to promote himself in this way, but few have done it so consistently over such a long period of time. Whatever his players think of his latest offering, Alex Ferguson may have something to say about his guarantee of lifting the title if given United's squad, particularly given Fergie's own failure to do so last May.

Allardyce's teams rarely entertain, but his comments often do. He may one day get the opportunity to prove his worth at the highest stage, but a lot more than a ban on foreigners needs to be in place for that to come about. He will demand time if he gets the chance, and may tone down the nonsense if he does. It's hard to say which is less likely to happen.

rsadlier@independent.ie

Sunday Independent

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