How Al­lardyce can save Eng­land

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Hamil­ton credit col­li­sion

LON­DON — Last week, the worst-kept se­cret in in­ter­na­tional foot­ball was spilled when Sam Al­lardyce was an­nounced as the new eng­land man­ager. Ap­par­ently, the FA’S first choice was Al­lardyce’s old critic and spar­ring part­ner, Ar­se­nal man­ager Arsène Wenger, who once ac­cused the one-time Bolton man­ager of pro­duc­ing “anti-foot­ball”. Wenger pre­ferred to re­main in his cur­rent job.

That the French­man was first on the FA’S list and Al­lardyce sec­ond paints a vivid pic­ture of the con­fu­sion that has be­dev­illed english foot­ball at all lev­els of coach­ing and ad­min­is­tra­tion for at least a gen­er­a­tion. It’s rather as if a film stu­dio, on find­ing that the au­teur Terrence Mal­ick was un­avail­able to di­rect a film, de­cided to go for Guy Ritchie in­stead. What kind of film, you would rightly ask, do they have in mind?

By the same to­ken, what kind of foot­ball does the FA have in mind? Be­cause there could be no two more divergent philoso­phies of the game than Wenger’s and Al­lardyce’s. If the Ar­se­nal man is all about the aes­thet­ics of pos­ses­sion, in­tri­cate pass­ing and swift move­ment, then the english­man has built his ca­reer on blunt prag­ma­tism that more of­ten than not takes the shape of in­tim­i­dat­ing phys­i­cal strength and em­phat­i­cally di­rect foot­ball.

The new Manch­ester United man­ager, José Mour­inho, who is no mar­tyr to the school of art for art’s sake, once re­ferred to Al­lardyce’s foot­ball as “19th cen­tury”.

else­where, he has been reg­u­larly pil­lo­ried for prac­tis­ing the crude “long-ball” tac­tics that held english foot­ball in as­pic for decades.

In his two big­gest jobs, as man­ager of New­cas­tle United and then of West ham United, Al­lardyce was sacked not be­cause of any great fail­ure, but be­cause his style of foot­ball was un­pop­u­lar with the fans.

To some ex­tent, th­ese crit­i­cisms are un­fair. Le­ices­ter City played a brand of foot­ball to win the Premier League last sea­son very sim­i­lar to the kind Al­lardyce preaches and they couldn’t have been more adored.

Part of the rea­son for this in­con­sis­tency comes down to per­son­al­ity and ap­pear­ance. “Big Sam” had the mis­for­tune of look­ing like the archetype of a man­ager from an­other era. he’s a large man with a meaty, im­pla­ca­ble face and a con­fi­dence that borders on the ego­ma­ni­a­cal. he can of­ten seem as though he is fig­u­ra­tively clothed in a sheep­skin coat.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I can­not help the way I were born and the way I look,” he told one in­ter­viewer. “If peo­ple see you skin deep, then they’ll make a skin-deep judg­ment.

“The ‘rugged’ per­cep­tion comes from the past, the ca­reer his­tory: not a flam­boy­ant or cul­tured foot­baller, a fairly straight­for­ward, ba­sic de­fender that played in all four di­vi­sions of the Foot­ball League… But it’s never re­ally wor­ried me. I do what­ever I think needs to be done.”

But in spite his protes­ta­tions about not car­ing, there is a sense that the cock­sure man­ner is the prod­uct of poorly con­cealed re­sent­ment at not be­ing fully ap­pre­ci­ated by the foot­ball es­tab­lish­ment, the me­dia and the fans.

Lesser men would have buck­led un­der the neg­a­tive re­ac­tions that Al­lardyce has pro­voked. But his out­look has re­mained balanced by a chip on both shoul­ders. he fa­mously said that he would never man­age a top-four side be­cause his name wasn’t Al­lardici.

how­ever, he seems to be mo­ti­vated by an ever-deep­en­ing de­sire to prove the world wrong and gain the ac­claim he feels he de­serves. And nowhere pro­vides a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity than the eng­land job. Nor does any other po­si­tion of­fer a greater chance of per­sonal de­feat.

If all po­lit­i­cal ca­reers end in fail­ure, then the eng­land man­ager’s job ends in na­tional hu­mil­i­a­tion. Only Sir Alf Ram­sey has ever won any­thing — the World Cup in 1966 — and he was sacked and prac­ti­cally erased from pub­lic view.

Oth­ers have not been treated quite so kindly. Bobby Rob­son, Gra­ham Tay­lor, Glenn hod­dle, Kevin Kee­gan, Steve Mc­claren and Roy hodg­son: all of them departed with boos ring­ing in their ears and vi­cious lam­poons in the news­pa­pers.

And that’s not to men­tion the lav­ishly paid for­eign im­ports Sven-göran eriks­son and Fabio Capello, whose teams were stud­ies in un­der­achieve­ment.

The only ad­van­tage Al­lardyce has is that, after such a sus­tained pe­riod of dis­ap­point­ment, the level of expectation is at a his­tor­i­cal low.

Per­haps the po­si­tion was in­ad­ver­tently best summed up by the foot­ball writer who, re­call­ing the stub­bornly de­fen­sive per­for­mance by Al­lardyce’s West ham that earned Mour­inho’s con­dem­na­tion, asked: “What wouldn’t eng­land’s sup­port­ers have given for such an ap­proach against Ice­land.”

In other words, so far have na­tional prospects fallen, that our great­est hope is that a team from the wealth­i­est foot­ball na­tion in the world might set out to gain a 0-0 draw against a sparsely pop­u­lated vol­canic is­land with a league that is ranked 36th in europe.

In a way, Al­lardyce’s job is to turn eng­land into the new Ice­land. his ex­per­tise lies with plucky un­der­dogs, mak­ing small clubs punch above their weight. — Guardian The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee faces an un­prece­dented back­lash from anti-dop­ing groups and ath­letes after it de­cided not to im­pose a blan­ket ban on the Rus­sian team com­pet­ing in next’s month’s Rio Games. In­stead it ruled the 28 in­di­vid­ual sports fed­er­a­tions which make up the sum­mer Olympics were free to de­cide the fate of Rus­sians on a case-by-case ba­sis.

Dick Pound, (pic­tured) the for­mer World Anti-dop­ing Agency pres­i­dent who au­thored a damn­ing re­port into state­spon­sored dop­ing in Rus­sia last Novem­ber, claimed the IOC’S de­ci­sion had re­vealed there “was zero tolerance for dop­ing, un­less it’s Rus­sia”.

“The IOC had a huge op­por­tu­nity to make a state­ment. It’s been squan­dered,” he said.

The 59-mem­ber In­sti­tute of Na­tional Anti-dop­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tions called the news “a sad day for clean sport‚” ad­ding: “The IOC has ig­nored the calls of clean ath­letes, a mul­ti­tude of ath­lete or­gan­i­sa­tions, and of lead­ing Na­tional Anti-dop­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tions, to do the right thing by ex­clud­ing Rus­sia.”

Mean­while, Great Bri­tain’s Olympic long jump cham­pion, Greg Ruther­ford, said the IOC’S de­ci­sion to pass the buck to its in­di­vid­ual fed­er­a­tions was “a spine­less at­tempt to ap­pear as the nice guy to both sides”. — Guardian LON­DON — New 2016 cham­pi­onship leader Lewis hamil­ton (pic­tured) be­lieves his crash with Nico Ros­berg at May’s Span­ish GP has proved the “turn­ing point” of his sea­son.

The reign­ing world cham­pion dis­lodged Ros­berg from the head of the Driv­ers’ Cham­pi­onship for the first time this year with a con­trolled vic­tory in hun­gary on Sun­day - his fifth win in the six races since the Mer­cedes’ came to­gether on the first lap at Barcelona.

Be­fore that col­li­sion, hamil­ton had failed to win any of the first four rounds and Ros­berg had built up a com­mand­ing 43-point ti­tle lead.

But two months on, and hav­ing now opened up a six-point ad­van­tage in his favour, a re­flec­tive Hamil­ton was quoted as say­ing by the Guardian: “I think Spain was def­i­nitely a turn­ing point.

“It didn’t feel like it was but it was rock bot­tom ba­si­cally. The only way was up. I just man­aged to get my head to­gether and get my s*** to­gether and get on with it, even though I have less en­gines, my me­chan­ics had been changed.

“All th­ese dif­fer­ent things which didn’t seem to be work­ing. I just had to deal with it. Since then we’ve pulled to­gether.”

hamil­ton has outscored Ros­berg by 49 points in the six races since Spain, with the Ger­man’s only win dur­ing that pe­riod com­ing in Baku when the Bri­ton crashed in qual­i­fy­ing. — Sky Sports

NEW Eng­land man­ager Sam Al­lardyce.

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