Time for Sam Allardyce to be given the respect he deserves

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We’re moving closer to a decision on the identity of Roy Hodgson’s replacement – and it looks as though the FA will be sticking with their plan to have another Englishman in the job. They have been granted permission to speak to Sunderland about Sam Allardyce, who it is difficult to see turning down the biggest job of his career.

It’s fair to say that Allardyce is not proving to be a popular choice amongst a lot of English football fans. Still dogged by the stigma of playing unattractive and direct football, most seem to see Allardyce as a dinosaur who would be found out at international level. But I’m not sure that is the case.

Allardyce has never been a man who only wants his side to be physical and direct, he’s just a total pragmatist; he is capable of honing in on the best way for a team to achieve their objectives and get some results – something which is actually the whole point of international football. Portugal didn’t play much sparkling stuff on their route to glory this month, but Fernando Santos had them organised and drilled into a system that worked.

Some of the big man’s teams have even been entertaining to watch. His old Bolton Wanderers his side, when they went through a spell of signing loads of old but brilliant superstars, were one of the league’s most watchable sides. You don’t fit Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djourkaeff into a team that does nothing but defend. It’s just a label that seems to have stuck and won’t go away.

Some other Allardyce sides haven’t been bad, either. His time at West Ham has been made to look worse by Slaven Bilic’s fine spell, but they played some good stuff under Allardyce and the likes of Cheikhou Kouyate and Enner Valencia really took to Premier League football under him. Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland have been less inspiring in terms of watchable football, but every time he achieves his objective with the minimum of fuss.

There is no Okocha in the England team, but there are plenty of good players who can make an impact on a World Cup in two years – as long as they are given a framework from which to do so. There is no better manager, in England at least, when it comes to noting a team’s strengths and having them play towards emphasising them, than ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce; he deserves his shot.

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