Of all the candidates linked with the Sunderland job, Sam Allardyce was easily the best option, for me.
Sam isn’t a stranger to Wearside, he’s been a player and has been on the backroom staff here under Peter Reid, so he knows what our club is all about and how passionate the fans are.
He commanded respect in the dressing room and no one dared take liberties with him
Sunderland are floundering at the moment, deep in trouble in the league and in desperate need of leadership, direction and inspiration, so Sam will know the enormity of the job he’s taken on.
Allardyce has been unfairly labelled a negative coach over the years by his critics and once you’re given a label like that, it’s hard to shake off.
But what he always does is get his teams organised and difficult to break down, while at the same time squeezing every drop from his players. If that’s a fault, it’s one I can live with.
It’s not as if we’ve been watching exhilarating football anyway. I go to games first and foremost wanting to see my team win and if it’s done playing attractive football, then that’s a bonus.
I first became aware of Sam when he scored a thundering header for Bolton against Sunderland in 1975-76.
I was on the bench that day; a young 18-year-old just starting out and I had a great view of it as it flew past Jimmy Montgomery for one of the best headed goals I’ve ever seen.
When Sam joined Sunderland in the early 80s, he only lasted a year, and it was a season where I spent more time in the treatment room than on the pitch, so I can’t say I got to know him really well.
But he commanded respect in the dressing room and no one dared take liberties with him.
His managerial career has been one of over-achieving at Bolton and Blackburn (look where they are now) and he took West Ham to promotion before stabilising them in mid-table for three seasons.
I don’t think his short spell at Newcastle should count against him, he was never too popular there before eventually getting the sack, and that will be a huge motivation for him with the derby not far away. He’ll want to prove them wrong.
Allardyce has never been relegated from the Premier League and if he continues that record, he’ll have succeeded in his first task at the Stadium of Light.
But he also has to set in place a structure to end the annual battles with the drop and bring some much-needed stability to a club that is far too often in a crisis of its own making.