Former Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce was relieved of his command at West Ham United earlier today, following rumours of club owners and porno merchants David Sullivan and David Gold, together with vice-chairman Karren Brady having met on Monday to discuss Allardyce's future.
With the likes of former Manchester United manager David Moyes and ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez supposedly targeted by the smut kings of East London, Allardyce's position has been uncertain for a number of months, all coinciding with the ending of his own contract.
Allardyce, as we all know, is the greatest living English manager.
The job that he did at Bolton is unparalleled, and goes without saying as being the most impressive achievement of any manager of any nationality in any country. You can point to the likes of Jose Mourinho's Porto winning the Champions League, or Arsenal's invincible season under Arsene Wenger - but the simple fact remains that both managers are incapable of matching Allardyce's work in dragging Bolton from the arse-end of the First Division to almost a decade at the top of the best league in the world - back when it actually was the best league in the world.
Have Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho et al ever been responsible for influencing the entire sport with their tactical knowledge? Nope. Allardyce refined the tried-and-tested 4-3-3 into what we know today as the 4-1-3-2 and 4-3-1-2 formation that is so prevalent in modern football.
It isn't just on the field that Allardyce led the way. Guess which English manager was the first to embrace Prozone. The first to have a larger backroom staff than playing staff? As the Guardian said back in March:
He developed a system of play based around what he called "the fantastic four". These were tenets of the game he had found through data analysis that would serve Bolton well in their fight for Premier League survival and beyond.
Bolton had to stop the opposition from scoring in at least 16 of their 38 league games to avoid relegation; if Bolton scored first they had a 70% chance of winning; set-pieces accounted for almost 33% of all goals scored; in-swinging crosses were more effective than out-swingers; and they had an 80% chance of avoiding defeat if they outran their opposition at speeds above 5.5m per second.
The system was almost comedically precise, but it worked. Through the meticulous study of matches, Allardyce was able to organise his team to achieve maximum efficiency on the pitch. It may sound robotic, but he literally had exact positions for players to gain the best possible chance of scoring.
This knowledge was applied primarily to throw-ins, free-kicks and corners, where Allardyce placed great emphasis on something called POMO, or "Position of Maximum Opportunity". If a player failed to appear in the required position for one of Bolton's famed long throw-ins, he would not forget it in a hurry. Allardyce would make sure he knew a scoring opportunity had been passed up.
Nowadays, most Premier League clubs use Prozone as a method of scouting, tactical planning and assessing past performances. Allardyce's Bolton led the way in changing how English football and data correlated.
The game has historically been viewed as one of the heart: a sport of emotion, love and trust. Allardyce's ideals may not have echoed with those romantic notions, but they worked and in so doing proved those notions to be wrong. English football began to be self-conscious in new ways. It was now a game of the head, a science; a problem to be solved, and Allardyce wanted to solve it.
Allardyce played the transfer market like a true genius. Free transfers of note included Youri Djorkaeff, Ivan Campo, Jay-Jay Okocha and Fernando Hierro. A mere £750,000 brought in years of experience in the form of Gary Speed. Granted, not every deal he made worked out, but those that did more than compensated for the mis-steps.
With survival being achieved two years on the spin, he took to the League Cup final in 2004, which was following by an eighth-place finish in the league. The following campaign saw a sixth-place finish, which meant European football for the first time in our history. Victories over Zenit St. Petersburg and a draw with eventual winners Sevilla came before a harsh defeat in France against Olympique Marseille. Sam wasn't finished there - two more top-eight league finishes followed.
He would have his head turned by Newcastle United soon after, and enjoyed a spell at Blackburn Rovers before the Venky's mob arrived and messed it up for him. His success at West Ham however has reaffirmed his genius as he stabilised a madhouse and turned them into a solid Premier League outfit, earning untold millions for the dildo-selling chairpeople in charge of the club.
His style may be grounded in realism, but there can be little doubt that West Ham have just lost their best chance at staying in the Premier League.
Good. Serves them right.