Search icon


27th Sep 2016

If Sam Allardyce is in the dock then so too should be the FA chiefs who appointed him

The responsibility for due diligence and vetting rests squarely on their shoulders

Tony Barrett

To say everyone had seen it coming would be an exaggeration.

Enough people, particularly within football and the media who cover the game in this country, welcomed Sam Allardyce’s appointment as England manager for any ideas to be dispelled that the nation as a whole was waiting for him to become embroiled in a scandal.

It is easy to be wise after a newspaper sting but not many were prepared to speak against Allardyce becoming the English Football Association’s most high profile employee when he was given the job.

The situation was similar when, a month prior to Allardyce’s elevation to the position, Roy Hodgson presided over a defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016, which some claimed was England’s worst at a tournament.

Some claimed that such a reversal had always been inevitable with Hodgson in charge but not many had said so when he was appointed to a role that demanded a level of performance beyond anything that he had achieved in a limited career. Again, inevitability was being confused with hindsight.

The thing is, it is not our job to predict any of these eventualities or to prevent them. We are not participants, we are onlookers. The responsibility for due diligence, vision and vetting rests squarely on the shoulders of the English FA and in the space of three months the managers they have deemed fit to hold the most important office within their own organisation have let them down.

during the UEFA Under21 European Championship 2015 Group B match between England and Portugal at Mestsky Fotbalovy Stadium on June 18, 2015 in Uherske Hradiste, Czech Republic.

This isn’t just a bad look or an embarrassment, it brings into further question their ability to preside over the game in this country and to make the decisions necessary to improve it.

Just as Hodgson arrived with more than enough baggage to suggest that a collapse of tactical direction was not just possible under his management, it was highly likely, so Allardyce’s past indicated that he could be caught up in the kind of controversy that could now cost him his job.

Ten years ago he threatened to take legal action against the BBC in the wake of a Panorama documentary. He has never made good on that threat.

“Obviously I’m denying all of the allegations that have been made against me,” he said at the time. “The matter is in the hands of my lawyers and will be resolved in due process. I have instructed my lawyers to take the appropriate action. I am very angry at the lies told about me.

“The individuals who appeared in the programme making accusations against me have already confirmed in writing to my lawyers they lied to the BBC. They lied in the hope of being able to make millions offered by the BBC reporter to buy their sports agency business. Those individuals never thought their lies would be exposed in the way they have been and have apologised to me. As a result of their greed, my good name has been tarnished by deceit and innuendo.”

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - JULY 25: Newly appointed England manager Sam Allardyce poses after a press conference at St. George's Park on July 25, 2016 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

This time around, there are no “individuals” to take the fall for Big Sam. This is a mess all of his own making, albeit one that required a national newspaper to go to extraordinary lengths to expose him.

In some ways, Allardyce is unfortunate, for English football’s questionable financial culture does not begin and end with one man allegedly being prepared to circumvent rules on player transfers. But to be captured in such a compromising position so soon after taking charge of the England national team, the job he had longed for throughout his career, means grave questions must now be asked about the shrewdness of his appointment and the wisdom of those who appointed him.

Too often in these situations, the focus rests entirely on the manager, as was the case with Hodgson following England’s abject failure at Euro 2016, when more attention should be paid to those who are empowered with finding and selecting the right man for the job.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 25: David Gill during the UEFA XI Extraordinary Congress at the Swissotel on February 25, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. FIFA will hold a Extraordinary Congress in Zurich tomorrow, 26th February to decide the next President of FIFA. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

If Allardyce is in the dock then so too should be the FA. Not as many people as will claim to saw English football’s latest scandal coming but those who run it have an obligation to do so and didn’t.

Not for the first time, the Football Association has been found wanting and the most worrying element of all of this should be that if, as is possible, Allardyce is relieved of his duties, the same organisation and same individuals will appoint his successor.

The rules of the game are clear – fail in any way as a manager and your job is in jeopardy; choose the wrong manager and you get to have another go.   


WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?