Sam Allardyce is the new England manager


When England failed abysmally at Euro 2016 and Roy Hodgson as expected quit his post moments later the players hoped that the new England boss would come from foreign shores. They haven’t got their wish as the FA has given the green light to Sam Allardyce.

Allardyce or ‘Big Sam’ as he is known in England will be doing his best impression of his famed Cheshire cat grin with the news. Indeed a few weeks ago linking the former West Ham United and Sunderland manager to the job would have been distant, but any English manager working in the top flight for so long has the ultimate dream of leading their country and at 61 time was not on his side. He’s finally, after managing for nearly 25 years in the game, landed the big job and he will be relishing every moment of it- but was he really the right man?

The problem for the FA going with a foreign manager is the slap in the face and rubber stamp to the heart of English football emblazoned with a seven lettered word- ‘failure’. Going abroad would have been admittance that there isn’t any English born manager available that has the talent to lead the national side. Also the top nations don’t go looking abroad. New European champions Portugal have done in the past but they finally won a major trophy with Fernando Santos, Portuguese. Indeed all of the semi final teams from Euro 2016 were all managed by coaches from that country. Why should England be different?

The FA can of course point to the fact that when they did look further away they came up with Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello who both respectively took one step forward and several back. Would an English manager in their time have done any worse? Okay Steve McClaren aside, but these managers demanded huge salaries and huge attention and their legacies as football coaches will not be remembered for their time with the English national team.

Allardyce in the end didn’t have too much competition- there was talk of Steve Bruce perhaps Alan Pardew but in the end the FA have gone for a man who some players he’s coached have recently come out and said he has a calming influence and really does care for the progression of the team. Progression is a huge word and one that ultimately won over the FA because Allardyce has agreed to nurture the next England coach as part of his job.

The problem for Big Sam is that he is more remembered for relegation dog fights than battling it out near the top of the league. And the big worry must inevitably remain that he may, even if he is English, be another manager that could well be taking backwards steps than advancing in his new job. Only time will tell.

Are Newcastle United Doomed Under Steve McClaren?


The last thing that a team in the midst of a relegation dogfight needs is to have their character questioned, but that’s exactly what has happened at Newcastle United this week with boss Steve McClaren calling them “the most frustrating side I’ve ever worked with”.

McClaren, who has also managed the likes of Newcastle’s North East neighbours Middlesbrough, FC Twente, Wolfsburg, Derby and England, spoke of a huge “character flaw” amongst his players as his side head into a crucial clash at Stoke City.

“Talent is not enough. You have to perform consistently, individually and collectively, he said. “You have to have certain characteristics – being hard to beat, solid, doing the work, be disciplined, do the small things.

“But inconsistency is a character flaw which we have got to come to terms with and put right.”

Ironically many of McClaren’s managerial reigns have been blighted with poor performances. At Derby he started brightly, but after a run of two wins in thirteen games they feel from champions-elect to outside of the Play Off places. He was duly sacked.

In the infamous ‘wally with a brolly’ debacle, England lost haplessly in Croatia and thus failed to qualify for the European Championships of 2008, and now Newcastle sit 18th in the Premier League having won just six of 26 matches. Their misery has been confounded by a miserable record on the road, which has seen them lost 10 of 13 away matches and conceding nearly three goals per game into the bargain.

Tonight’s hosts Stoke will not exactly be quaking in their boots at the thought of welcoming the Magpies to the Brittania Stadium.

Where has it all gone wrong?

Despite significant investment in the summer and the January transfer window, McClaren has failed to find a winning formula at St James Park. Or perhaps, in reality, he has: Newcastle sit twelfth in the ‘home table’ with 17 points – the same as Liverpool and more than Everton and Crystal Palace.

But it’s on their travels that Newcastle have struggled – a return of W2 D1 L10 GF7 GA31 doesn’t require any further investigation, and when there is such disparity between home and away form the manager’s tactics have to be questioned. Scoring 0.5 goals per game and conceding 2.4 on average is a recipe for disaster.

So McClaren has to take the blame for his side’s troubles that are being exacerbated by their away form, and it will be interesting to see if it is this, ultimately, that sees them slide through the dreaded relegation trapdoor.