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Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud with Goal of the Season Contender

Arsenal, Zlatan and the Big Sam Allardyce Effect

Aguero to Arsenal to Allardyce: The Gameweek Review

Big Sam – Big Mistake?

Unless you’re currently residing under a rock or on another planet (in which case well done on getting access to the interweb), you’ll know that today Sam Allardyce is being summoned to FA Headquarters by his bosses who are more than a little peeved at him.

‘Big Sam’ (for that is his official name on his passport, or so I’m told) had dinner with some ‘business people’ and during a lengthy discussion over what I presume was foie gras smothered in gravy and three pints of creme de menthe, he discussed many topics in a very open and frank manner which reflect quite badly on his employers – their decision making, their rules (and how to get around them), their business nous and their previous employees, among other things.

Today he looks like he is at best facing a severe dressing down (the thought of Big Sam dressing down makes me shudder), and at worst the sack, the bullet, the chop, the P45, the axe…you get my drift.

Maybe a little over the top…

My Twitter timeline is now festooned with articles by some of the most senior football writers in the UK arguing furiously as to why ‘Big Sam’ doesn’t deserve the sack, and how what he did was nothing more than foolish and possibly indiscreet. Essentially the contacts and journos that ‘Big Sam’ has fed with material for the best part of 20 years are now trying to ride to his rescue, and in some ways that’s understandable. Finally the football journalists have someone in the top job who gives great copy and who almost certainly has all of their numbers in his phone, just in case. *ahem*

I’m not here to comment on whether Sam Allardyce should be sacked, or to comment on the merits of what he said. I’m here to comment on the blindingly obvious outcome of appointing ‘Big Sam’ to be England manager.

‘Big Sam’ is a man who has opened his gob and said something daft more times than Sideshow Bob has trodden on a rake. He has become a figure of national amusement with his proclamations that he would be managing Real Madrid had he not been ‘Northern’. His dancing to Rihanna only last summer became a viral sensation – the ultimate example of ‘Dad Dancing’ meets ‘Football Man On The Piss’. At the time, he was just ‘Big Sam’ on his holidays, but very soon he was ‘England Manager’ on his holidays. Should that make a difference? Of course not. It looked daft then, it looks daft now, whether he’s a 61 year old brickie dancing, or a 61 year old England manager. But Sam doesn’t care that it looked daft, because Sam is Sam, and he’s comfortable with Sam. He likes Sam. Hell, he ADORES Sam.

Sam Allardyce has never been afraid to speak his mind, to be himself, and to let it all hang out (I apologise for the mental image), and you know what? Good on ‘im. As William Shakespeare once opined

‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man’.

Now I think this may be the first time in the history of civilisation that Shakespeare and Sam Allardyce have been mentioned in the same breath (examples of other times are eagerly anticipated), but the point remains true. At that dinner, Sam Allardyce was being Sam Allardyce. ‘Big Sam’ was being ‘Big Sam’. Yet now the FA are ‘disturbed’ and ‘outraged’?


It’s like somebody spending a fortune on a top of the range Alfa Romeo because it looks so beautiful that you bite on your own lip to try and stop yourself screaming out with desire, and then standing aghast at the side of the road as it breaks down. OF COURSE IT BROKE DOWN, IT’S A BLOODY ALFA ROMEO.


How then the FA can act all high and mighty as their England manager acts exactly like himself is beyond me. Of course they will, though. There will be condemnation of his lack of self-awareness, his lack of control, his greed etc etc etc. In keeping with the theme of England managers, and without wanting to come across all Kevin Keegan, I would love it, absolutely bloody love it, if ‘Big Sam’ swaggered into that meeting, chewing gum, hand in his pocket clearly ‘adjusting’ himself, and told them to back him or sack him. They will never crack him. In reality however ‘Big Sam’ will do all he can to keep his dream job and will suddenly become ‘Little Sam’, all contrite and apologetic, gazing up to his FA superiors with big brown eyes, begging for forgiveness.


In the end, I can’t help but wonder if this sorry episode may only hasten the inevitable demise of ‘Big Sam’ as England manager. Instead of being hounded out of the job due to drab, soulless football and/or terrible results, he could be ushered out of the side door of the FA Headquarters because of his big mouth. The same big mouth the FA stuffed £3 million quid a year inside a few short weeks ago.

Hypocrisy or Bad Judgement? You decide



Niall Hawthorne has a strange view on most things. Check out his blog for proof

You can read more from him also on twitter at

His views are his own, because quite simply nobody else would have them.


Troubling times for Newcastle and Sunderland

Manchester City vs West Ham: Confirmed Lineups and Preview

Off the Mark: Why I’m backing Andy Carroll to lead West Ham to Premier League safety

West Ham: Why mid-table mediocrity is the way forward


For most other football fans it was a day dominated by Chelsea becoming the first London club to win the European Cup, but it was easy to forget that another area of the capital had something to celebrate on May 19th 2012.

Perhaps West Ham’s Championship play-off final victory over Blackpool at Wembley was ‘easy to forget’ because the Hammers had always seemed to be a top flight club, regardless of their relegation under everyone’s favourite life of the party Avram Grant in 2011.

As opposed to the likes of Blackpool whose stopovers in the top flight have always been brief ones, West Ham have always regarded themselves as a big club who should feel at home amongst the elite and not be fearful of them.

There is nothing wrong with that of course, but at times it has seemed as though the club are fixated on running before they can walk, on aiming high only to end up disappointed.

This season they have taken back to Premier League life with a minimum of fuss, winning eight, drawing six and losing 11 of their 25 fixtures to find themselves 11th in the table. They have never really looked to be in serious relegation danger and now nine points ahead of 18th-placed Wigan following Saturday’s win over Swansea they don’t look like being in trouble any time soon.

Whereas the ‘running before you can walk’ tag can be labelled at London rivals Queens Park Rangers this season, Sam Allardyce’s West Ham have simply done enough to impress onlookers without overstretching themselves.

The signings of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Matt Jarvis and Mohamed Diame were all clever ones, whilst Allardyce pleased fans by granting Joe Cole a Hammers homecoming in January, with the former England midfielder expected to flesh out the squad and offer his guile and experience where needed.

It was another arrival from Liverpool who produced headlines in August though, and whilst injury hasn’t allowed Andy Carroll to make the kind of impact he’d have hoped for since his switch to Upton Park it is his move which has certainly been the most intriguing.

Unlike with plenty of the big money transfer deals seen throughout the Premier League, Carroll’s switch from Anfield is still a temporary one for now, and it is this move which showcases just why West Ham are fine being where they are at the moment.

Should, as now looks likely, the Hammers end the season in the middle reaches of the table then the money generated from both that position and the well-publicised new Premier League television deal will allow them to kick on and look to perhaps make Carroll’s signing a permanent one if they wish – maybe for around £15m.

Even if they don’t want to sanction such an outlay for the forward they will at least have that money there to spend on other targets, and you can be sure that Allardyce will be determined to spend that money wisely and not fritter it away as has been seen elsewhere.

West Ham just needed this season get into that position though. A season where previous ups and downs were forgotten about and consolidation in the top flight could be achieved.

They aren’t safe yet of course, and could even find themselves drawn closer to the foot of the table given that four of their next seven fixtures are against Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, but you have to believe that they’ll pick up enough points to ensure a safe distance between them and bottom three.

It might not be as glamorous as some would want, and it is likely to leave Hammers fans waiting a while to see their team on Match Of The Day, but this approach is just what their club needed in a first season back in the big time.

Next season they could really reap the benefits.


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