Sam Allardyce laid out his mantra for success in his first press conference as England manager. The 61-year-old was the unanimous choice of the Football Association’s three-man selection panel to replace Roy Hodgson following the Three Lions’ humiliating exit from Euro 2016. Allardyce now faces the challenge of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and restoring the pride of a nation that was crushed in their defeat to Iceland in Nice.
England still remain one of the strong contenders to triumph at the next major tournament in Russia, being backed in the latest international football betting odds at 14/1 to win the World Cup.
Allardyce comes into the role fresh from guiding Sunderland to safety in the Premier League after the Black Cats looked doomed to the Championship under the tenure of Dick Advocaat.The great escape was the signature move of the former defender, having performed similar tasks at Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United. The 61-year-old guided the Trotters from first division to the Europa League, having finished in sixth place in the Premier League in the 2004-05 season, using the talents of Gary Speed, Jay-Jay Okocha and El-Hadji Diouf to great effect.
He has always been able to use the talents of the players at his disposal to carve out positive results, and although he has been accused of being a long-ball merchant, Sunderland’s performances with 5’7 Jermain Defoe proved that was far from the case.
Allardyce has also been one of the frontrunners in employing sports science into the game, using every possible advantage available to him, ensuring that his players were at their peak week in week out. As a result, Allardyce has always left a club in a stronger place than when he began his tenure, bar Newcastle United where his methods were not appreciated by the supporters and owner Mike Ashley.
However, he will now face his biggest task to date in reviving the England squad following their huge failure at Euro 2016 where their nerves got the better of them in their catastrophic loss to Iceland. Allardyce has already made waves after refusing to confirm that Wayne Rooney would remain as captain, while fellow senior players Joe Hart and Gary Cahill are also under pressure for their places in the squad after disappointing performances in France.
England’s weak defending and lack of character was on full display against Iceland as they allowed their opponents two simple goals, and then failed to register a meaningful attempt on target in the remaining 70 minutes of the contest.
The 61-year-old has already spoken of the need for his players to handle the pressure of the occasion, and has proven calibre in this area due to his battles at the bottom of the Premier League. Should he master what has been England’s downfall over the past 20 years, he may be go on to have great success, although other changes still have to made to the setup of English football.
Harry Kane was not the player that scored 25 goals for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League when he pulled on an England shirt in France. The 22-year-old appeared to be exhausted both mentally and physically after a draining campaign, playing every top-flight fixture for Spurs. Allardyce has long been an advocate for a winter break in the Premier League, and in order to get the best out of his players in summer tournaments, he may have to force the FA’s hand.
He has already thrown his weight into the cancellation of a friendly against Croatia and his forthright nature could be just what the Three Lions need in order to get the radical changes required to allow the national team to challenge for major honours once again.