Post by thehalftimeporkpie on Oct 13, 2015 16:16:57 GMT
My latest 'off the cuff' piece is on Big Sam.
Will Big Sam be the saviour? Will he sign Kevin Nolan? So many questions and after his first press conference, lots of those questions are still outstanding.
Oh and he has a book out too!
Big Sam, reputably blown out of the England job due to powerpoint issues has never had the best stats in the world. Supporters and fans, argue that his tactics and win at all costs attitude outweigh the lack of attractive football. However, despite his backroom team and the penchant for using statistics, the one statistic that I look for, is the win %.
A move to Newcastle, saw him preside over a cracking start. Until it all turned sour.
You may recall my mention of the poisonous atmosphere at SJP, during a defeat to Liverpool one cold, November afternoon. He didn't last too much longer. There was also an issue with alleged dodgy transfer dealings that hung over his head, like a bad smell.
Spells at Blackburn and West Ham ended in his sacking and then a contract not being renewed.
So why the fascination with him?
According to my calculations, he has 30 games to turn Sunderland around and get points on the board. 37 points, until he reaches the supposed safe total of 40 points. It is too late in the day to work out what sort of win percentage he needs to turn the season around, but I am guessing he needs to beat his 34% win ratio.
What about Nolan? According to his press conference earlier today, he said he might sign Nolan (which opens up a whole new can of worms - which we will leave for another day!)
His assistant? Well his long time confident Neil McDonald is managing elsewhere now. Surely Allardyce will give him a chance to make up for lost time, after the strange goings on for McDonald at Carlisle all those years back. I am not sure the SOL faithful would welcome ANOTHER ex Newcastle player into the fold. Brought up at his press conference, Allardyce responded by saying that he is speaking to someone and has irons in the fire.
Post by thehalftimeporkpie on Dec 1, 2015 11:32:06 GMT
TalkSport ranter Adrian Durham has his eyes on the North East in his latest article for the Daily Mail.
As well as a piece on Newcastle United, he has done an article on Sam Allardyce and Sunderland.
Allardyce has been brought in to stabilise and solidify Sunderland. He's excellent at doing that – one of the very best around. Pundits are remarking on how it's a good fit – mainly because his formulaic, no frills approach is perceived to be what the club needs right now.
But hang on a moment – Sunderland haven't been relegated for 10 years. So if they stay up, he won't be achieving anything more impressive than what Gus Poyet, Paolo Di Canio and Dick Advocaat managed. Poyet even took them to a Wembley final in that time.
Allardyce's intentions are clear – he's stated them openly: 'I don't really want to be doing what the club has done over the last four years and have to win a huge amount of games in the last six or eight matches. Let's try not to get there and let's try to do it as quickly as we can.'
We saw it at West Ham, Allardyce's hallmark is that his teams get to 40 points, and then clock off for the rest of the season.
After the win at Crystal Palace he said: 'Clean sheets are the way forward.'
So no need to hold tight, don't even bother fastening your seatbelt Sunderland fans, this is likely to be the most unremarkable ride of your lives with Sam in town.
Pragmatists will argue Sam is right.
But turning up at a club that hasn't been relegated for 10 years and maintaining Premier League status a few weeks earlier than normal is only a marginal progression at best.
Sunderland fans don't seem to be an unreasonable bunch: they're never heard demanding the title or a top-four finish.
The 40,000-plus who turn up for every home game want to stay in the Premier League, of course, but they wouldn't mind some sort of excitement along the way.
That's how I read it.
I was there when Sunderland secured safety at Arsenal late last season, and the players and fans celebrated like they'd won the Champions League. Ironically it was a 0-0 draw that made Dick Advocaat so emotional on the touchline. But that sparked scenes of jubilation.
Under Sam it is more likely to be a 0-0 draw at home to West Brom next April that will have fans staying stuck to their seats, sleepily commenting that they're now safe from relegation.
Fans only love a relegation battle, if it is eventually successful. I get it.
From the club's point of view, it's financial: they cannot afford the risk of getting sucked into a scrap down there. I understand all of this stuff that is being thrown around by experts who don't pay to go to see their team.
And right now some Sunderland fans will have been wooed by Sam's charms because of results.
But his claim that Sunderland scored the winner at Selhurst Park with a 'classic counter attack' is nonsense. Palace messed up – that isn't a classic counter attack. And Stoke only caved in when Ryan Shawcross was, rather harshly, sent off.
Under Sam, Sunderland will probably stay up. But that is nothing new for this club – that happens regularly. He is aiming to have them safe sooner than usual – in real terms that will mean the season will be less exciting. He's offering clean sheets in an era where fans pay a lot of money to go to games and the demand for entertainment, some sort of return on their ticket price, is growing.
This is also a time when clubs who you might expect to be boring just so they can survive, are making conscious decisions to provide more than just dull, pragmatic football: Stoke have signed Bojan and (Xherdan) Shaqiri, Palace have (Yannick) Bolasie and (Wilfried) Zaha flying down the wings, Leicester are a joy to watch, and even Norwich had two luxury playmakers – Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond - on the pitch at the same time during the draw with Arsenal.
Football has moved on from an obsession with clean sheets, the philosophy has shifted towards scoring more goals than the opposition, and that will always win games.
I understand what Allardyce brings but the long-suffering Sunderland fans deserve more than just having their bums numbed watching functional football. These passionate supporters should be given a spectacle that gets them out of those seats. Let's see if Sam can prove me wrong.