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Blog: Big Sam Still Looking for A Big Club

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Another move for the former Wanderers boss, but is it the right one?

Michael Regan/Getty Images

So as we all expected, former Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce has been appointed as the new manager of Sunderland, replacing the outgoing Dick Advocaat:

The now-60 year old Allardyce has chosen the North East's most half-arsed and toxic club to be his ninth managerial appointment in a long and storied career taking in jobs as diverse as being the player/manager of Limerick, to the glamour and glory of his eight-year reign at Bolton.

Whilst this may well be the last gig for Allardyce, who, lets not forget, was quoted as intending on retiring following his now-legendary 10-year Bolton Wanderers contract signed in February 2000 - the Sunderland job represents yet another stopping point for a manager who, I would argue, is still looking for the 'right' job following his departure from Bolton back in 2007.

His decision to leave Bolton in search of riches and glory has been troublesome to say the least, and I've often wondered whether the big man holds some element of regret, given the struggles he has had since to recreate the dynamism and sheer force of personality that so embodied his time at Wanderers.

His decision to leave Bolton back in 2007 was explained as being one borne of sheer ambition. His initial explanation was that he wanted a break from the game. Well. That lasted all of 16 days as he was appointed as the successor to Glenn Roeder as manager of Newcastle United. Somewhat of a sleeping giant, the North East's biggest club has always been a strange place to work, and Big Sam struggled to win over a fanbase despite spending plenty of then-chairman Freddie Shepherd's cash. A strong start led to a poor mid-season, and Allardyce was sacked on 9th January.

He would be out of work until the following December when he answered the call to take the reigns at Blackburn Rovers. Again, a strange and undeniably small club. His task was definitely one of a rescue mission at the struggling Ewok Park side - a task that you cannot deny he completed. He was fired in December 2010 following a 2-1 defeat against Bolton despite bringing Blackburn back to a state of stability. Tough call. The search for a big job continued.

It took another long delay - of nearly six months - before he found his next project.

He was appointed as manager of West Ham United in June 2011. Yet again, the man who once claimed that if he was manager of Inter, Real Madrid, Chelsea or Manchester United, clubs he claimed to be "better suited" to managing, that he would win multiple trophies every season, had to take a step back into the Championship to find work - leaving Bolton Wanderers in search of honours and glory was proving very difficult for Allardyce.

Despite signing ex-Wanderers Abdoulaye Faye, Kevin Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te, Ricardo Gardner, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Joey O'Brien and Matt Taylor, Allardyce had to utilise the Play Off system to gain promotion back to the Premier League - somewhere the deluded and downright clueless Whammers claimed to 'belong'. Well if you ask me, if your co-chairmen are more famous for flogging grot mags then you belong in the depths of the lower leagues.

Again the search for a big club went on.

He was never welcomed at West Ham in the way that he was at Bolton. They didn't understand his genius and they certainly didn't take to him in the way that we did. He achieved promotion at the first time of asking, and he solidified the club back in the highest tier of English football.

Yet the West Ham faithful decided that he didn't meet the stringent requirements of the 'West Ham way' - supposedly one which promotes exciting attacking football with a strong influence of their once-great youth academy - but instead these days is synonymous with failure, relegation and pretty much nowt else.

His reign lasted just shy of four years, and despite the relative success he achieved, he was relieved of his duties this past May with a perceived lack of adherence to this mythical 'West Ham way' cited as one of the main reasons for the parting of ways.

Again, Big Sam found himself without employment and in search of happiness and a club suited to his talents.

So it is now to Sunderland that Allardyce turns. Still looking the right club, still looking for a big club. He left Bolton Wanderers some eight years ago now, and there can be no doubt that his moves since departing from the Reebok Stadium have been mixed. Some unfortunate, some ill-advised.

Sunderland is a strange club. A toxic club. Perennial strugglers, the Black Cats (hehe) find themselves second-bottom of the Premier League and winless in their opening eight games of the season. It seems like this is the case most seasons tbf tbh tbc.

Big Sam, who had a spell at the club as a player in 1980/1, will coincidentally face former club Newcastle United in his first game at the helm next weekend.

His win ratio in the Premier League is solid, although looking at it objectively it is perhaps not quite as impressive as you may imagine:

Games

Win

Draw

Loss

For

Against

%

Bolton Wanderers

226

80

66

80

275

281

35.40

Newcastle United

21

7

5

9

27

33

33.33

Blackburn Rovers

76

26

21

29

86

108

34.21

West Ham United

114

35

28

51

129

151

30.70

Total

437

148

120

169

517

593

33.87

His overall numbers, as I said, are solid - but perhaps point to why he has struggled to find himself at a truly 'big' club since leaving Bolton Wanderers back in 2007. His overall win/loss ratio of 33.87% (Premier League only) compares somewhat unfavourably with the upper echelon in which he considers himself a large part of. To make that same comparison you would have to look at the ratios enjoyed by his predecessors - former Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet only had a 23.30% in his 60 Premier League games at Sunderland, with Dutchman Advocaat only enjoying a 17.7% ratio during his charge.

So it is with interest that we look upon Allardyce's latest challenge, and we perhaps still wish that things had been different and that he hadn't left Bolton in 2007. I'm sure he would like that too, as his search for a big club continues. Maybe one day he'll find that club - but Sunderland is certainly not the one he's looking for.

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