Samuel Allardyce’s book, ‘Big Sam: The Autobiography’ was published in late 2015, several months after he’d parted company with West Ham and several weeks before he took over at Sunderland.
With the man himself on the very precipice of taking over as England manager, we thought we’d have a timely dive into his pysche to see what makes him tick.
Funnily enough, it’s all immensely predictable, as these dozen excerpts duly prove…
On his England credentials: “I should have got [the England job in 2006] and, as I’m a better manager now than I was then, I believe I should be in the running whenever it comes round again. That’s not vanity or being full of my own importance. My track record entitles me to be considered.”
On dismissing naysayers: “(My wife) Lynne was torn. The profile which went with being England manager, and the fact that she and the rest of the family would be in the public eye, scared her. But she wasn’t going to stop me.”
On distractions: “I was once asked, ‘If a player came walking into the dressing room talking away on his mobile what would you do?’ My reply was instant. ‘I’d take it off him and throw it in the bin, even if it was Wayne Rooney.”
On being too much of a god-damn maverick for the big boys to risk hiring: “The top clubs in England would not risk taking on me and my team. Nowadays they are rarely managed by anyone from Britain. They’ve got to get a fancy-dan foreigner in, it’s almost compulsory.”
On his good friend Arsene Wenger, a fancy-dan foreigner: “I enjoyed beating Arsenal more than anyone when I was in charge at Bolton. We’d really got to them and Arsene hated us.
“It seemed he wanted a rule where they should be allowed to do what they wanted with the ball, without us being allowed to tackle them. It was a skill finding their weaknesses and how to exploit them.”
On tactical nous: “We (West Ham) would have lost but I made two of the best substitutions of my life, bringing on Julien Faubert for Guy Demel and George McCartney for Gary O’Neil.
On pioneering the use of statistics: “I was assessing player stats long before it was fashionable in football in England. Now owners believe algorithms determine whether a player will be a success or not. I would never go that far, because there are too many imponderables.”
On his strict moral code: “I’ve always regarded losing possession in your own half as a criminal offence.”
On lumping it up to the big man: “No matter how much I protest (people calling me a long-ball merchant), it won’t go away. But the truth is I adapted my playing style to suit the personnel available and the opposition we were facing.
“When you have worked with players of the stature of Djorkaeff, N’Gotty, Okocha, Hierro, Campo, Stelios, Diouf, Speed and Anelka, you don’t play hit-and-hope football. These fellas were craftsmen not lumberjacks.”
On life outside of football: “I squeezed into some very tight black pants and nailed the Moonwalk. I’ve even dressed up as Cheryl Cole.”
On the Spanish game: “Beyond Real and Barcelona, and maybe Atletico Madrid, Spain has nothing. I watch teams lower down in La Liga and it’s woeful stuff.”
On English flair: “We have a sorry history of marginalising flair players. It’s been going on for decades. Alan Hudson, Rodney Marsh, Worthy (Frank Worthington), Stan Bowles, Matt Le Tissier, to name a few – not one of them made it to double figures in England appearances. That’s a scandal.”
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Here’s a little bonus paragraph taken from chapter 22 of the book, as written by Big Sam’s wife Lynne, the woman he describes as “his rock”…
Aww, the big softy.