Alex Lee: Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce can get Sunderland in Europe...one day

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce
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While I'm exiled in Manchester, thus 'only' 140 miles away from the Stadium of Light, and an ex-season ticket holder of 1998-2012 vintage, I have little or no excuse for getting my hide up to the city of my birth once a fortnight.

Let's face it, fans from all over Europe (certainly the Netherlands, Ireland and a clutch of Scandinavian countries) come and watch the lads, therefore I must make the pilgrimage more often.

The last time I was 'up', we beat Newcastle 3-0 so that was perfect timing on my part - much like the moment when Sam Allardyce arrived on Wearside to turn things around after Dick 'No plan B' Advocaat’s anti-relegation magic spray had worn off.

And what a great job the pragmatic one has done thus far.

Six matches, three wins, three clean sheets - including that sensational smash and grab against the monochromes - have seen us rise to the acrophobia-inducing heights of fourth from bottom.

From where I'm sitting, on a typically grey and wet Manchester day, things are looking up for SAFC.

Despite Allardyce's reputation for dour, route one football, let's not forget what he has achieved at previous, way smaller, clubs.

Take Bolton, for example, where he somehow brought in Anelka, Djorkaeff, Okocha and Campo and trotted them up the table to a sixth place finish in 2005. Sixth! Bolton! Home of the 15,000 crowd! A place higher than Reidy ever managed with us...

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the excitement of the League Cup run under Poyet and the gung-ho attacking style of Advocaat’s teams, but I’d dearly love to see SAFC in Europe (and not just in pre-season friendlies).

Sam can be the man.

It won't be for a couple of years yet, but then again Allardyce is no one-season wonder.

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