Following England’s disastrous Euro Cup campaign this summer, it was obvious a change in management was needed. Nobody expected such a youthful England squad to lose against Iceland, yet that is exactly what happened.
Manager Roy Hodgson was shown the door, and to no one’s surprise, Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce got the job he had spent his entire career working toward. It seemed that a new era for English football was set to begin, one that would hopefully erase the horrors of the past few years. An unconvincing victory over Slovakia in early September demonstrated that Allardyce still had much work to do, but it was to be expected after less than two months on the job.
And then, the unthinkable happened.
Last week, the British newspaper The Telegraph published an expose revealing that the manager fondly known as Big Sam had been caught in a sting operation. According to a report backed by video evidence, Allardyce had met with undercover reporters and claimed to have a way to bypass third-party player ownership.
Third-party player ownership means there are people who have a stake in the player other than those directly involved in the transfer of the player. It is a practice that is banned by both England’s Football Association and the FIFA governing body itself.
Allegations like the ones made against Allardyce are incredibly serious, and the FA announced that it would immediately begin looking into the matter.
Also emerging during this meeting was the fact that Allardyce heavily mocked Hodgson, who is well-known for having a soft lisp.
The England manager also criticized former assistant manager Gary Neville’s work with the team and Prince William — who is the president of the FA — for never appearing at meetings. All in all, it was shocking behavior for a manager of the English national team.
While Allardyce is known for his outspoken behavior, everyone thought that becoming the England manager would mean that he would behave in a more dignified manner.
To make matters worse, The Telegraph also claimed that Allardyce agreed to a £400,000 deal to represent the false firm the undercover reporters had created. While Allardyce insisted that he would have to run the deal by the FA first, the fact that he potentially agreed to such a deal is horrific and highlights the corruption that still runs rampant in the soccer world. It is not as though he needed the money; Allardyce was reportedly set to make £3 million per year as manager.
When news of the scandal broke, it became very evident that the FA would need to take swift action. The dream appointment of Allardyce had turned into a PR nightmare. Mere hours after the scandal was revealed, Allardyce was out.
This ordeal is a further embarrassment to English soccer and highlights just how far the English team has fallen. What seemed like a perfect match between team and manager has ended up being incredibly damaging to the entire sport. The frantic search for a new manager will begin again and the FA can only hope to make a better decision this time.
It was announced the U-21 England manager Gareth Southgate will take over the team for the next four games, including three World Cup qualifiers. Southgate was initially one of the candidates touted as the successor to Hodgson before he ruled himself out due to inexperience. Depending on how these games go, it is entirely possible that Southgate will ultimately be named the permanent manager.
Other possible candidates include Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Crystal Palace’s Alan Pardew. Unlike in the summer, it is difficult to say which man the FA will decide to go with. Wenger would be an excellent choice, thanks to his distinguished 20 years at Arsenal and the team’s great start to the season.
While Wenger has admitted that he would be open to the job, he has also been adamant that he will not break his contract with the Gunners. I doubt that the FA will be willing to wait until the end of the season to appoint the next manager. Of one thing we can be certain: The next England manager will need to have a pristine reputation.
Sixty-seven days in charge. One match. While Big Sam will leave his brief tenure in charge of the Lions with a perfect record — a feat that will surely never be matched — it is an ignominious end to a stellar career. As for England, one can only hope that things will get better from here.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.