Tony Gillan: Misguided perceptions could again work against Sunderland’s Sam Allardyce’s England chances

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce
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The North East’s minimal concern over the current England situation is confined to the FA’s interest or otherwise in Sam Allardyce filling the managerial vacancy.

Sunderland fans’ first preference is that Allardyce stays on Wearside. The second is that the matter is resolved as soon as possible. I tend to think they will get what they want.

Their man is the bookies’ second favourite behind Jürgen Klinsmann, but no extensive search is required to find a message board screaming about what an outrage it would be to appoint Big Sam. It’s all about perception.

For example, deluded West Ham fans insist that the football they played under him was “the worst we’ve ever had.”

This may be true for those who have not watched the Hammers for more than five years. Those of us who recall some true dross from that club over decades are inclined to disagree.

We all know that Allardyce can produce ugly/pragmatic football – but only when he has to; such as when he took the cart-horses he inherited in the Championship at Upton Park in 2011, to three successive mid-table finishes in the Premier League.

It is frankly quite stupid to think he achieved this by simply wellying the ball to somewhere within the vicinity of a large striker. Some very nice football helped to save Sunderland last season too.

There is reputation and then there is reality. Mark Twain, in an article for Take a Break, said: “Give a man a reputation as an early riser and he can sleep ’til noon.”

I suspect that Allardyce’s reputation will prevent an England appointment. The FA will fear the reaction of the press and “knowledgeable” fans immediately after the first bad result.

We can already hear mutterings about “Allardyce’s brand of football” before he has even been offered the job. That would be as opposed to the aesthetically thrilling play we have become accustomed to from England under various managers.

The arguments against Allardyce may be misguided, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work.

One of the problems the FA has in getting anyone north of Watford to care a fraction as much about the national team as they do for their clubs, is the opinion that a “London-centric” outlook exists.

Again, it’s just perception. It isn’t necessarily true.

However, it is used as a handy explanation for the inclusion in the national squad of what seems like every English Tottenham player over the last century.

Or the preference for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshire over Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater, who was 378 times better than Wilshire last season (we worked it out).

To combat this surely absurd notion of parochialism, the FA has canvassed the opinions of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Harry Redknapp. All are Londoners. In fact, Lampard and Redknapp are from the same London family. But all three have been employed elsewhere, so what more do you want?

They are joined by Gary Lineker, a former Tottenham player who lives and works in London, but is originally from Leicester.

Lampard and Ferdinand’s qualifications include never having managed in their lives.

Redknapp, who thinks the FA is run by idiots because they didn’t make him manager, spent £71m on rubbish while relegating QPR twice in three seasons (I know we mentioned this last week, but we won’t tire of it).

Lineker is Britain’s leading junk food salesman.

Without this glitterati on board, the serious task of ensconcing their mates into England jobs will take far longer (it also makes the appointment of Allardyce less likely still).

In 2013, the FA trumpeted that: “Greg Dyke will draw upon diverse opinions in a bid to improve the England team”.

That was to proclaim a momentous new commission that included revolutionaries such as Howard Wilkinson, Glenn Hoddle, Dario Gradi, Danny Mills and Roger Burden.

Yes. Roger Burden (????).

In their new advisory capacity, will Lineker and friends match the triumphs of that lot?

I rather suspect that they will.

The Premier League’s new £5bn deal is about to commence, so what are the clubs doing with all that lovely dough?

In fairness, they have capped ticket prices for all away fans next season at £30. But beyond that?

During last summer’s transfer window, Premier league clubs spent a total of £870m. In the first week alone of this summer’s they have already spent £300m.

It is expected to finish well above a billion with players’ salaries rising commensurately (because the lads will be skint after their summer holidays).

So you now know what the clubs will do with their unneeded windfall.

Exactly what you thought they would do.