Big Sham

> Al­lardyce exit leaves Eng­land a laugh­ing stock yet again

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

A SSam Al­lardyce beat a shame-faced re­treat from Wem­b­ley af­ter be­ing forced out as Eng­land man­ager, his place as a punch­line in the na­tional team’s ever-ex­pand­ing hall of shame was al­ready etched in stone.

Al­lardyce had cov­eted the Eng­land post for decades and proudly hailed his ap­point­ment in July as an over­due chance to seize the spot­light af­ter be­ing de­nied a crack at one of the Pre­mier League’s top clubs.

Yet like so many who came be­fore him, the 61-year-old has dis­cov­ered why man­ag­ing Eng­land has been de­scribed as the ‘im­pos­si­ble job’, a ‘poi­soned chal­ice’ and now, un­de­ni­ably, a laugh­ing stock af­ter his de­par­ture only one match and 67 days into a dream job that quickly turned into a night­mare.

Given the un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions at­tached to the Eng­land job, it’s hardly sur­pris­ing few get to leave with their heads held high.

But some­thing about the ex­pe­ri­ence of pulling on a track­suit with the Three Lions badge seems to in­duce as­ton­ish­ing lapses in judge­ment from Eng­land’s man­agers.

From Steve McClaren’s wally with the brolly de­noue­ment to Sven Go­ran Eriks­son’s dalliance with a fake sheikh via Glenn Hod­dle’s ex­tra­or­di­nary views of rein­car­na­tion, there is rarely a dull mo­ment for those who chron­i­cle the men in the Eng­land hot-seat.

Even by those far­ci­cal stan­dards, Al­lardyce’s as­ton­ish­ingly rapid fall from grace seems es­pe­cially fit­ting in its self­in­flicted ar­ro­gance and need­less naivety.

Sur­vey­ing the dam­age done to a once pres­ti­gious post, for­mer Eng­land and Manch­ester United de­fender Rio Fer­di­nand summed up just how piti­ful the na­tional team now looks in the eyes of the world.

“The rest of the foot­ball com­mu­nity around the world will be laugh­ing at us. The Eng­land role has be­come com­i­cal,” Fer­di­nand said.

“This was a man who was pas­sion­ate about get­ting the job. He forced the FA to act.

“Naivety seems to be the word com­ing up. It’s dis­ap­point­ing for English foot­ball.”

Al­lardyce had been ap­pointed to re­place Roy Hodg­son af­ter Eng­land’s mis­er­able Euro 2016 cam­paign ended with a shock last16 exit against min­nows Ice­land.

Hodg­son, a de­cent man whose only crime was be­ing over­pro­moted, de­parted in ab­ject mis­ery af­ter be­ing forced to en­dure a painful grilling in his exit press con­fer­ence.

Some­how, Al­lardyce found an even more de­mean­ing way to go down in flames.

De­spite the warn­ing of Eriks­son’s brush with un­der­cover re­porters, a tawdry tale that al­most cost the Swede the Eng­land job in 2006, Al­lardyce still agreed to ex­change gos­sip and trade se­crets with a group of men he didn’t know in a Lon­don ho­tel only days af­ter tak­ing charge.

That those men were ac­tu­ally un­der­cover re­porters pos­ing as Far East busi­ness­men can’t even have Real Madrid for­ward Cris­tiano Ron­aldo (left) scores past Dort­mund goal­keeper Ro­man Buerki dur­ing the Cham­pi­ons League first leg match at the BVB Sta­dium in Dort­mund yes­ter­day. come as that much of a sur­prise to Al­lardyce given his own past ex­pe­ri­ence of a se­cret tele­vi­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion that led him to be ac­cused of tak­ing bungs to fa­cil­i­tate trans­fers – a charge he was even­tu­ally cleared of.

Asked by the re­porters if it would be a prob­lem for their fic­ti­tious agency to get in­volved in third-party own­er­ship through fund­ing foot­ball trans­fers, which is banned un­der FIFA rules, Al­lardyce said he knew of cer­tain agents who were “do­ing it all the time” and added: “You can still get around it. I mean ob­vi­ously the big money’s here.”

He com­pounded his er­ror by crassly re­fer­ring to Hodg­son as “Woy”, mim­ick­ing his speech im­ped­i­ment, and said the FA had “stupidly spent £870mil­lion (RM4.6bn)” re­build­ing Wem­b­ley, while also com­plain­ing that Prince Wil­liam, the FA pres­i­dent, had not at­tended last week’s Euro 2020 launch event in Lon­don.

Al­lardyce crit­i­cised Hodg­son’s ap­proach at Euro 2016, say­ing he was “too in­de­ci­sive” and “hasn’t got the per­son­al­ity for pub­lic speak­ing”.

Still not fin­ished, he poured scorn on Eng­land’s fail­ure at the tour­na­ment by say­ing their play­ers have a “psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­rier” and “can’t cope”.

It was all too much for the im­age con­scious FA, who sum­moned Al­lardyce down to Lon­don from his home in Bolton in north-west Eng­land be­fore wield­ing the axe.

Mu­tual con­sent was the FA’s agreed phras­ing, but Al­lardyce’s ad­mis­sion that he was “deeply dis­ap­pointed” told the real story.

Eng­land Un­der-21 coach Gareth South­gate has agreed to take charge of the se­nior team’s next four matches.

But for the sec­ond time in three months, the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion have to em­bark on a search for a new man to fill a po­si­tion that in­creas­ingly seems like the very last job any self-re­spect­ing coach would want. – AFP


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