Chris Young: England won’t be invited back to Sunderland in a hurry after poaching Sam Allardyce

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce on the phone during the pre-season friendly match at Victoria Park
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce on the phone during the pre-season friendly match at Victoria Park
Have your say

Even the beer pumps had to be changed at the Stadium of Light when the England corporate bandwagon rolled into Wearside.

May’s friendly against Australia proved to be a logistical nightmare for Sunderland’s army of behind-the-scenes workers, who had to alter all of the marketing agreements which differed between club and country.

Ellis Short

Ellis Short

But after a 13-year gap since the previous England game at Sunderland, the opportunity to host one of just two domestic-based friendlies prior to Euro 2016 handed the Black Cats a healthy dollop of prestige, even if it wasn’t particularly beneficial financially.

England aren’t going to be invited back in a hurry now though...

The FA’s decision to appoint Sam Allardyce has propelled Sunderland back into choppy waters, on the eve of a season which held such promise of finally ending the pattern of under-achievement and fulfilling that long-cherished objective of stability.

England’s appointment of Allardyce is understandable. The lack of organisation, coherent strategy and particularly man management was starkly evident in that Iceland surrender.

The FA’s decision to appoint Sam Allardyce has propelled Sunderland back into choppy waters

Chris Young

The manner of that harrowing Euro 2016 elimination was what made Allardyce such an appealing candidate for the FA.

Had England gone out in the quarter finals to France, the FA would doubtless have spent weeks ‘reviewing’ Roy Hodgson’s position.

Even if they’d then pulled the plug on Hodgson, a case would have been made for progress at reaching the last eight, and a Gareth Southgate or Gary Neville parachuted in as an FA-polished heir to build on those foundations.

But Iceland was so traumatic that Allardyce emerged as the drastic answer; an antidote to the culture of Ivory Tower delusion which has surrounded the England side for the last 15 years.

The first phone-call from his country will genuinely have taken the self-assured Allardyce aback. He thought his chance had come and gone when he finished runner-up behind Steve McClaren 10 years ago.

And for all his departure leaves a sour taste, no other job would have seen him leave Sunderland.

The 61-year-old had been reinvigorated by his spell at the Stadium of Light, particularly the dramatic improvement in performances and gradual surge away from danger which followed the arrival of the January signings.

At Christmas, Allardyce may have still been bubbly in front of the cameras, but he was dispirited that his arrival had not prompted a quick turnaround. Far from it, Sunderland were not much better off with a squad of players that lacked sufficient quality or resilience.

But the roulette wheel gamble on Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Kone and Jan Kirchhoff changed the entire picture.

Suddenly, Sunderland looked a team again.

Initially, Allardyce was deeply frustrated at constantly snatching draws from the jaws of victory, but he had caught the buzz again and felt the love from the terraces.

From a fractious, tense relationship with supporters at former club West Ham, Allardyce’s brand of common sense resounded with Wearside’s public. He ‘got it’ and injected the tempo and intensity into Sunderland’s play which was in tune with the noise in the stands.

It would be unfair to paint the picture as entirely rosy.

There have been echoes of Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat before him over recent weeks after Allardyce has been frustrated at the transfer budget allocated and Sunderland’s inability to make a breakthrough in the market.

He was holding fire over Sunderland’s advances of a new contract until he saw tangible investment in a playing squad that still requires four or five fresh faces, and leaves his successor having to enter the market at break-neck speed.

However, Ellis Short - raging at the timing of the FA’s approach - very much saw Sunderland’s future based around Allardyce.

After years of reservations over his managers, Short had total confidence in Allardyce’s ability to lead the club into more stable waters. He liked the straight-talking and honesty of the Brummie, and the pair shared a tipple long into the night after that Everton win in May.

The middle ground would have been found over transfers. After all, the Sunderland manager expected this job to be his last in the dug-out.

But England’s approach changed everything. It’s the job that has been Allardyce’s burning ambition to fulfil since his Bolton days, hence his request to Sunderland for permission to speak with the FA.

Sunderland fans can’t blame him for that. It’s not as if Allardyce is departing to join one of their Premier League peers. What particularly rankles is how long it took the FA to make up their mind on him.

However, it leaves Sunderland in a familiar pickle. The next incumbent - almost certain to be David Moyes - will horrifyingly be the seventh manager in less than five years.

If it is Moyes, at least he won’t be hampered like Allardyce or Poyet before him in inheriting a confidence-drained side who have only a couple of points to show from eight or nine games. The catch-up feats of both former managers should still be marvelled at.

But Sunderland will not start the season with a boss who has a thorough knowledge of the players at his disposal, or who already has a handful of fresh faces to boost both ability levels and the mood around the camp.

It’s not quite the situation Roy Keane faced in 2006-07 when Sunderland signed six players on deadline day, yet time is now pressing.

At least, Moyes knows what it takes to prevail in a relegation battle, knows the right time to promote academy products and although Everton were blessed with a deceptively big wage budget, he can spot a bargain in the transfer market - Tim Cahill and Phil Jagielka two of his big success stories.

Short is a fan of Moyes. He’s wanted him on at least two previous occasions.

There have been plenty of other out-of-work options available - Roberto Martinez, Manuel Pellegrini and Frank De Boer the most prominent ones - while Sean Dyche was very much the contingency option prior to Dick Advocaat’s U-turn 12 months ago.

But Sunderland have had far too much upheaval already in a summer which was supposed to consist of tranquil waters. They need an option to minimise the disruption.