F365’s early loser: Everton’s marriage of inconvenience
12 months ago, 2 Jan 18:56
There were two distinct trains of thought on Sam Allardyce’s appointment as Everton manager, two paths that this never-ignored-but-rarely-adored man could choose to take. Allardyce’s first option was to treat such an unexpected high-profile opportunity as a chance to do something new. His 2010 claim that he would be more suited to managing Real Madrid, Manchester United or Chelsea has become folklore, but Allardyce was defending his own pragmatism with a double dose of bravado. Give me expensive fireworks and I’ll put on a show, was the message. It is unusual for the biggest club job of a manager’s career to come so close towards its end, but more rare still for that Indian summer to take that manager so far out of his comfort zone. At Everton, with a troupe of No. 10s but a team incapable of stopping the concession of goals, Allardyce had a ready-made task for his skills. But Allardyce also had a budget version of those super clubs he once demanded to govern. Everton have far more fireworks than Sunderland, Blackburn, Crystal Palace or even then-Championship West Ham; so give us the show you promised. The second option was to do what Allardyce has always done: make a team defensively sound but often mildly unpleasant to watch. In 2013/14 at West Ham, Allardyce’s last full season in charge of a club, they had the second best defence outside the top eight. In 2014/15, they had the best defence outside the top half, and yet the club waited around five minutes after the final game of the league season to sack him. For all that talk of possibilities, there was only one likely eventuality. A flashing neon sign pointed Allardyce and Everton down one of those two potential paths. The old dog was happy with the old tricks of ‘fetch’ and ‘sit’, while the leopard decided against a move to pinstripes. Allardyce is not for changing. “You have to have a big personality to walk into a football club and look at the players and say, ‘Look lads, listen to me. This is what you need to do, this is how you need to get out of the position that you’re in. It’s not rocket science, it’s simplifying and making things easier for you to make decisions that will help you win back your confidence, put results on the field and take us forward’.” That was Allardyce’s explanation on December 14 for Everton’s rapid improvement in results, and it is difficult to argue that his simplification was effective. Beating Huddersfield, Newcastle and Swansea (two of those at Goodison) in his first four league games may have merely represented par for Everton’s expected course, but a disorganised team had quickly been put back into line. And yet three short weeks later, there was a smattering of boos around Goodison at full-time of Everton’s New Year’s Day game against Manchester United. Those watching on were unimpressed by what they had witnessed. In sounds ludicrously short-termist, but had Allardyce’s ...
Category: sports football football winners & losers