Sam Allardyce was one of Bolton Wanderers greatest and most successful managers, but you already knew that. His retirement from management seems like a good time to look back at some of his best and most defining moments as Bolton manager. So in particular order;
Of all the slightly off the wall signings Allardyce made this one was probably the most exciting. Yes true to form he was a player who had fallen on hard times, whose career needed reviving. But unlike many of the others who fell into that category Anelka was a player at the right age to play some of his best football, and that’s exactly how it turned out. After announcing himself with a wonderful brace against Arsenal he would show that he was one of the most talented players Big Sam brought to the club, it really was a pleasure to watch.
Rather like with other entries below you could populate a top five Big Sam moments purely with signings. But this one felt different at the time, and was all the more exciting for it.
Here is the obvious one. This has to go down as one of Wanderers greatest achievements, certainly in the last few decades. To be mixing it with the elite and, if memory serves, to enter the top 50 clubs in Europe on UEFA’s index was simply unbelievable.
Although I condense the adventure to one moment on this list you could justify a top five Big Sam moments focused entirely on our continental adventures.
This is a little off the wall I have to admit. But I do have very fond memories of that lap of honour after beating Middlesborough to stay up. Not only was this wonderful to behold as a spectacle it also showed the amazing bond Allardyce shared with his mini-galacticos. This spirit and bond would become synonymous with his Bolton side and their unlikely rise up the Premier League.
Roman Abramovich had just turned up and started throwing money at Chelsea. That season Bolton would roll into town and go and beat his already expensively compiled squad. The most perfect part of the day? The fact it was a John Terry own goal which sealed the points for Wanderers. It was a result which, more than any other for me, illustrated the David vs Goliath feel to Bolton’s success.
There were many results like this of course. Beating Manchester United at Old Trafford twice in a row. Getting one over Arsenal and Liverpool on many occasions. But this result further stands out for me as it was the greatest I witnessed first hand.
Yeah this is an odd addition to a list like this. But most reading this will acknowledge that without his, for the time, revolutionary approach to data nothing else on this list, or any other list of his top moments at Bolton would likely have happened. It was the way he used data and his meticulous approach to planning based on it which created the opportunity for everything else to happen. So yes as a moment its not something which fits naturally onto a list like this, but how can it be ignored? Most managers simply would have lacked the foresight to invest in this way, and that’s exactly why Big Sam stood out at Bolton. He had that foresight, he had glimpsed into the future of his sport and had the commitment to see it through.
In my head this room looks a little like the Rebel Alliances’ war rooms in Star Wars with Big Sam and Phil Brown stood around plotting the destruction of Arsene Wenger’s evil empire.
So there we have it. Five moments which stand out for me. There must be others people would include, pop them in the comments below.