London, United Kingdom | AFP |
AFP Sport picks out five facts on Sam Allardyce who is expected to be named the new England manager on Thursday:
Blunt talking is his style — reflected in his autobiography ‘Big Sam’ — and no surprise after a playing career where uncompromising and no-nonsense would be the attributes most commonly used to describe him as a central defender. Former Wimbledon and Sheffield United manager Dave Bassett quipped: “He was what I called a ball-playing defender… If he wasn’t playing with the ball he was playing with your balls.” Enjoyed his best spell as a player at Bolton Wanderers — he later established his reputation as a manager in taking the unfashionable side to the League Cup final and to the top tier. He stayed with the club for nine years.
— Richard Mennear (@RichMennearJP) July 20, 2016
It’s a fair cop
Allardyce’s father Bob was a policeman who rose to the post of sergeant. “My old man always said you only get what you graft for,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2014. “It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, how much education you’ve got, you’ll only get there on work rate. My dad was a policeman for 25 years, a sergeant, and he taught me discipline. Any problems on our estate were always sorted out by Bob Allardyce. If we got into any trouble we’d be in trouble with my old man. So discipline was everything. Getting up for work on time, don’t be late, shave, don’t let anyone down. We lack a lot of discipline today. It’s society.”
Bet your house on him
Had Allardyce reached the level he did as a player today he would have been more than adequately paid. However, in his day, he had to cast around with an eye on how to supplement his playing income. He bought up modest properties in Bolton, doing them up before selling them on. “We modernised terraced houses. Buy the place for £6,000. It didn’t have a damp-proof course and needed rewiring, so you’d do a rip-out job, revamp it and sell them for £10,000 to £12,000. I did a lot of the mortgages during the season and in the summer, I’d be in there with a sledgehammer, knocking down walls,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
Finds his rhythm at Limerick
Rafael Benitez and Allardyce have had a running feud for years. Not the least of the perceived slights was when Benitez claimed Allardyce had never won silverware — wrong because ‘Big Sam’ won the 1992 League of Ireland title as player/manager of Limerick City. The experience Allardyce had there marked him, not only because he learnt about management but about the tough side of life as the city had many poverty-stricken neighbourhoods where local priest — and chairman of the football club — Father Joe Young played a key role in giving youngsters some hope. “The collar (priesthood) has mighty powers there. Watching Joe, with his faith, was a massive eye-opener for me. He looked after one of the poorest parishes in Limerick, working with people who were struggling, down and out, but it never got him down. We had a brilliant time together.”
21st century manager not stuck in the past
Despite Jose Mourinho once describing Allardyce’s style of football as being “stuck in the 19th century” the Englishman rejects that and is also an admirer of “The Special One” and Alex Ferguson. He says that unlike managers such as Benitez and Arsene Wenger, they are capable of adapting their teams’ style of play according to the opposition they are facing.