This week saw the un-surprising ousting of Alan Pardew, following a run of eight defeats in the previous 10 games. Pardew had been struggling most of the season, and his removal reflected a disappointing performance in managing a team featuring genuine talent in players like Benteke and Zaha, with very little of the guts, bravery or belief needed to hack it in the relegation zone of the Premier league.
Now, of course, the rumours have begun to circulate on his replacement, who presumably will be appointed before the end of this year. The shadow of a man not seen in the public eye since his inglorious sacking from the England job has re-emerged in the past few days; Big Sam returns to the footballing scene. Maybe.
There is no question that the manner in which Allardyce bid his England “dream job” farewell did the man no favours; he had already found himself untangled in legal turmoil after a 2006 BBC panorama documentary threw his own son into question over illegal payments related to transfer deals. Big Sam’s own infamous moment was caught on film as he wined (Allardyce infamously, and hilariously, appeared to be consuming a pint of wine in the footage) and dined foreign businessmen in hopes of securing £400,000 in exchange for representation as they attempted to make money off of Premier League transfers. Not strictly rule-breaking, but foolish and damning enough evidence to throw Allardyce’s integrity out of the window overnight. Public opinion was divided, but Sam’s bags were packed weeks later.
Now, we have a situation which will likely divide Palace fans just as much. Big Sam’s track record with struggling teams is not a bad one. His efforts with Bolton up until 2007 were admirable, and his work with Sunderland shortly before the England job earned equal plaudits. Sam’s management style is progressive and suits the defensive organization needed for teams with poor records and need of a turn-around.
However, his return to football, surrounded by the frankly humiliating nature of his England departure is not ideal attention, given Crystal Palace’s delicate situation. The scandal itself will haunt Allardyce’s career; his long-awaited opportunity to manage a side with large reputation and better players was ended by nothing short of naivety. Simply, an unsettling display of greed and worrying attitude from a newly appointed England manager have scarred Allardyce’s legacy as a solid coach, who can squeeze out results when he is required to.
Crystal Palace, who are likely settling in for a tough and gruelling second half of a season, will no doubt look past the dramatic undertones of re-appointing a man who held the England job down for a grand total of 67 days (although he does post an impressive 100% win record in that time; one game, one victory). Sam Allardyce’s likely new role at another struggling side, a role he has played many times before, confirms the sad reality of the man; he is better in the desperate situations, a great organiser, and mobilizer of teams. Big Sam once tipped himself to be a potential manager of none other than Real Madrid. Alas, it appears the destiny of Sam Allardyce remains one of relegation battles, pints of wine and endless fast-food related memes.