Sam Allardyce: How did the next England manager in waiting approach final Sunderland game?

When the Sunderland coach pulled up outside a balmy Victoria Park, there was a throng of people waiting for its arrival.

Wednesday, 20th July 2016, 8:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 3:21 pm
Sam Allardyce at Hartlepool United's Victoria Park

They were all waiting for one man. Cameras poised. The door opened and you could see the dancing feet of Big Sam Allardyce.

He couldn't wait to get off the bus, walking down the steps with a beaming smile on his face as the cameras went off in front of him.

The 61-year-old looked carefree, without a care in the world. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts when he has the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.

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The next England manager, replacing Roy Hodgson after his resignation after the humiliating Euro 2016 exit, had just walked into Victoria Park.

There was widespread speculation beforehand that he will be announced as the new national boss within the coming 24-hours - with David Moyes set to replace him at the Stadium of Light.

Allardyce, though, looked relaxed as he chatted with fans, signed their autographs and posed for pictures ahead of the game.

There was the inevitable throng of cameramen surrounding his every move as he made his way down the tunnel to the Sunderland bench, chaperoned by a member of the press team.

As he squeezed into his seat on a packed Sunderland bench he was smiling as he chatted to his backroom staff.

Business as usual was the message from the club last week when it first emerged he had left the Austrian training camp for 'transfer talks'.

It has been anything but since as the FA closed in on their new manager, with Sunderland left in limbo and facing the unenviable position of facing the task of appointing a new manager just three weeks before the start of the new season.

But for 45 minutes on Wednesday night, at least, it was business as usual.

Allardyce had picked his final Sunderland team and they went about their business in clinical fashion against Hartlepool United in their opening pre-season game.

Allardyce, casually dressed in a club polo shirt, was on his feet applauding Jermain Defoe's double, while Whabi Khazri also found the net after good build-up play from Defoe.

The players looked fitter than they did last pre-season, well organised, well-drilled and playing in their familiar formation.

He has only been on Wearside for nine months but his impact in that time was huge, saving the club from relegation to the Championship.

Allardyce didn't appear for the second-half, presumably saying his goodbyes in the bowels of Victoria Park.

His legacy will be looked on favourably by Sunderland fans, even if only a small group half-heartedly chanted his name once towards the end of the game.

Now they are looking to their own club's future, as Allardyce looks to transform the fortunes of England.