Another year, another disappointing end to a tournament for England.
The 2-1 defeat to Iceland on Monday meant Roy Hodgson's four year spell as manager of the national side came to a humiliating end. Spineless, gutless and without passion, it was a total horror show. Whether it was taking five strikers and playing four of those said strikers out of position, having Harry Kane take set pieces or keeping an out of form Joe Hart in goal, Hodgson got it completely wrong.
Now Hodgson is gone, England need to find the right man to steer the new generation of English talent back on track. The knee jerk reaction would be to hire a foreign coach, but if the FA decide to stick with a home grown gaffer, there's only one man for the job...
Cast your mind back to 2006. May 2006 to be exact. 'Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley is sitting pretty at the top of the Uk charts. The then England manager and world's most unlikely womanizer, Sven-Goran Eriksson, had already announced he was going to leave the role after the 2006 World Cup. There's only two candidates remaining for the job: Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce and Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren.
Allardyce had transformed Bolton from the archetypal yo-yo team into a formidable Premier League side. Bolton were on course for a third successive top eight finish in the Premier League, and had also reached the last 32 of the UEFA Cup, where they lost 2-1 to Marseille after remaining unbeaten against teams like Sevilla, Zenit and Besiktas. McClaren had led Middlesbrough to the 2006 UEFA Cup, and had also led Boro to Carling Cup success against Bolton in 2004 (f****** Bolo Zenden).
On the 4th May 2006, the day after Bolton and Middlesbrough drew 1-1 at the Reebok Stadium, Steve McClaren was officially announced as the new England manager. Big Sam said at the time: "Without any question of a doubt it will be one of the biggest disappointments of my life."
McClaren was the safe choice. The Vanilla of choices. A coach under Sven, McClaren was the safer option compared to Big Sam. Whether or not the FA thought Big Sam would be harder to work with, as he wouldn't conform to how they worked, who knows. You could compare Big Sam to Brian Clough. Obviously not in terms of accolades or achievements, but in the way that Clough was overlooked for the England job many times, probably due to how he worked and his outspoken nature. Big Sam's reputation probably went against him and went in favour of McClaren.
Fast forward to November 2007. After Big Sam guided Bolton to 3rd mid way through the 2006/2007 season, the failure to be backed by Phil Gartside and Eddie Davies in the January transfer window led to a deterioration in their working relationship, and Allardyce would resign just before the end of the season.
Under the stewardship of McClaren, England lost three times in qualifying for the 2008 European Championships, and subsequently failed to make the finals. The image of McClaren stood with that umbrella during the 3-2 defeat to Croatia will forever be etched in history.
Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson have since had spells as England manager, and although they both had greater success than the 'wally with the brolly', neither have made the grade at the big tournaments. The last knockout game England won in normal time remains a 1-0 victory against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup.
Now represents the best chance Big Sam has had of landing the England job since 2006. Last season, as manager of Sunderland, Big Sam worked wonders in keeping the Wearside team in the Premier League, at the expense of rivals Newcastle United no less. Previous to this, Allardyce guided West Ham United back to the Premier League at the first time of asking in 2012, and in the three years that followed, kept the London side in the top flight, as well finishing 13th or higher in the table.
Big Sam was a pioneer of the prozone technology, and used statistical analysis to help prepare for games well before it became common practice for teams. Also, the notion that Allardyce shouldn't be in consideration because he has never managed a 'big side' is ridiculous.
Something else that goes in favour of Big Sam is his ability to turn around a club/player. Look at his time at Blackburn Rovers. When tasked with reinvigorating a side left in a slump by Paul Ince, Big Sam not only steered the side to safety, he lead Rovers to a top half finish the season after.
Allardyce has also rejuvenated the careers of several players. Kevin Davies and El-Hadji Diouf being prime examples of Big Sam's man management expertise. Allardyce gets the best out of his teams, so who's to say he can't do this with the likes of Raheem Sterling for England?
Allardyce himself doesn't think he has a a chance, or a least publicly he doesn't think so. Before Sunderland's last game of the season at Watford, Allardyce stated:
"They say they are looking for an English manager but will they do it? "You’ve got this, ‘what’s sexier?’ element now, rather than how good you are at doing the job."
Almost certainly, the FA will look to select a foreign coach. Names such as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former PSG and France manager Laurent Blanc have been prominent in the press. I'm sure Blanc especially would bring a certain je ne sais quoi to the role.
Jermaine Defoe, Super Kevin Davies and former FA chairman David Bernstein have publicly backed Big Sam for the role. Bernstein stated: ''He's a very powerful character. I think he's got the personality, the strength, he's a good technical manager, he's very experienced and he's someone who perhaps could imbue confidence.''
Martin Glenn, David Ashworth and David Gill are the men given the task of picking the right person to hopefully lead England to the World Cup in Russia in two years. Will that be Big Sam? Probably not, but if the FA want to pick a home grown manager who will resurrect the England national team, Big Sam is the man.