Don't rule Allardyce out
Many say his football career's over, but Stoke may well come calling
MAN UNITED v STOKE
(Sunday, 6.30pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 & StarHub TV Ch 228, ELEVEN Plus HD)
If you were compiling a chart listing the most famous falls from grace in the history of sport, then where would you fit ousted England boss Sam Allardyce?
He'd have to fall below the undisputed No. 1, O J Simpson. After all, "Big Sam" didn't murder anyone, as Simpson allegedly did. And, to be fair, he did leave the England job with a 100 per cent winning record.
Lance Armstrong would surely be ahead of him, as would Ben Johnson, Marion Jones and Barry Bonds.
Allardyce would probably nestle in well behind the leading contenders, but with plenty of daylight between himself and those at the bottom end of the standings, which is a reasonable enough metaphor for a managerial career that has produced a plethora of mid-table finishes.
The story of Allardyce's demise would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.
A council estate boy who realised his dream when he was appointed England manager, but whose love of a pound note ultimately proved to be his downfall.
So where does Allardyce go from here?
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's seismic parting of the ways, various pundits dived in to claim that there was no way back, that Allardyce was finished as a manager, unemployable as a pundit, and should hide behind the walls of his Bolton mansion until the end of his sorry days.
But, in football, there's always a way back; particularly for someone as well connected as Allardyce undoubtedly is.
And let's not forget that his record as a club manager, when you consider the constraints with which he's had to operate, stands up against anyone outside the very top echelons of the game.
Tonight, Eleven Sports Network will broadcast Manchester United's latest Premier League clash with Stoke City.
While jobs like the United one have never, or will ever, be within reach of Allardycio's bear-like grasp - despite his claims a few years ago that he should have been managing Real Madrid - it wouldn't be the greatest surprise in the world if the 61-year old was parachuted into the Britannia Stadium, should Mark Hughes suffer a crippling loss against his former employers.
Stoke and Allardyce are a perfect fit - the footballing equivalent of a statuesque model slipping into an elegant black dress (try not to accidentally visualise "Big Sam" in a black dress. With a head the size of a standard cement mixer, it wouldn't be a pretty sight).
If you look at the state of Sunderland under David Moyes, it makes you wonder how on earth Allardyce kept them in the top flight last season.
After nine games, the Black Cats had accrued just three points from a possible 27. However, three wins and three draws from their final half a dozen games kept them afloat - much to the detriment of the Premier League, judging by the state they're in this term.
Stoke are in a similar situation this season to the one which Allardyce inherited at the Stadium of Light, despite having once again invested heavily in the squad. Xherdan Shaqiri, Gianelli Imbula, Glen Johnson, Wilfried Bony, Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic are not names you would readily associate with a relegation dogfight.
If he was appointed, Allardyce would immediately do what Allardyce always does; get the team organised, lift spirits in the dressing room, work his players hard, leave no stone unturned from a sports science and analysis point of view, and make them as well drilled as possible.
If Allardyce became Stoke manager next week, I'd guarantee that the Potters would find themselves comfortably clear of the drop zone by the new year.
Maybe I'll set up a meeting between Allardyce and the Stoke board, and the former England manager can dazzle them with one of his trademark keynote speeches!
Away from the cameras, of course.
- Richard Lenton is the lead presenter at ELEVEN SPORTS NETWORK. Join Richard and his studio guests for ELEVEN's live coverage of the Premier League, which includes today's clash between Hull City and Chelsea from 9.30pm, and tomorrow's showdown between Manchester United and Stoke City (6.30pm), and Burnley versus Arsenal (11pm). For more details, visit www.elevensports.sg