David Preece: ‘Silly’ Sam Allardyce affair has short-changed Sunderland fans again

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce
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At times like these, don’t you just get sick and tired of football?

I do – and at this very moment I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, apart from bewilderment.

In most football matters, I see things clearly in black and white but there are so many perspectives to be taken from Sam Allardyce’s departure.

My initial reaction was to become defensive, as I often do when I think an injustice had been served on someone in the football community.

The strategy of the sting was to lead the conversation to the point of self-incrimination, regardless of whether legal wrongdoing was suspected at hand. But if you dangle enough lines of bait at a fish, eventually it will end up biting the end of one.

There’s an element of “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound” in these kinds of planned operation.

It seems like there was no prior suspicions with regards to the matters that made Sam’s position untenable, so if the Telegraph didn’t instigate the meeting, would there be any question of immorality or wrongdoing?

I’ve seen the word “naive’ bandied about but that’s no excuse. Sam is one of the most experienced operators there is, and if there is one thing he isn’t, it’s naive.

What happened is a meeting that footballers and their managers are lured to on numerous occasions and the higher profile you are, the more offers of people promising to make you money you’ll get.

I’ve sat in meetings about “special” investments, pensions, apartment complexes in Brazil, gold mines in West Africa, importing cars from Mexico, ponzi scheme’s run by ex-footballers the list of people wanting to offer you no-lose opportunities is endless.

And so is the list of players who have lost fortunes to them too.

I could come over all righteous here and say that I’ve not fallen for any of them but to be honest, I never earned enough money to be taken advantage of.

These people are good though, they’re convincing and that’s why they target the young, newly monied players who are so keen to make more. These are the naive ones. These are the ones who trust too much until they get burned, not 61-year-old men with 40 years experience in the game.

The things was, there was no illegality to what Sam did. He has been hung by the rope of morality, of which he must surely have accepted as a noose already placed around his neck the moment he took the job.

To forget that isn’t naive or even stupid, it’s an arrogance that blinded him to the consequences of even sitting in the company of those who snared him.

Sam said he’d been “silly’ and he’s right. There was no need for him to be talking business with them at all, that’s what his agent and advisors are for.

If he did have to listen to their proposition first hand, get someone to do your dirty work to make sure it’s legitimate, then clear it with the FA first before meeting them. Cartel bosses don’t negotiate on the street corners of Cartagena, do they?

Many people have aired their disgust at the greed of someone wishing to earn £400,000 on top of his already handsome salary and I’m pleased for those same people who feel they would flatly refuse such an opportunity without being remotely interested. I’m sure my family and my bank manager would see things a little differently.

This is what gets to me too. When the aim of many people in life is to make money to give themselves and their family the best possible life, why is it so abhorrent for a footballer or manager to want to do the same? If you own a business, don’t you want it to be successful and earn you lots of money?

The truth is, Sam knew what the job entailed and the standards to which he’d be held up to and if anyone was going to be on the end of, as he put it, “entrapment”, it was going to be him.

As Sunderland fans, we joke about the hope killing us and how we’d be better off just accepting our fate of perpetual struggle but selfishly, as author Jonathan Wilson expressed hours before Sam mutually agreed his release, you can’t help think “What about us?”.

Deprived of another pre-season of preparation to give ourselves a fighting chance of making this one less fractious and depressing than those before, and for what?

A one nil win over Slovakia? It feels like we’ve been short-changed again.