Sam Allardyce's departure from the England job has got to be one of the most tragic falls from grace in English football history. A man who cleared his name after bunging allegations in the 00's managed to secure his dream job as England manager, only to throw it all away. But I believe Big Sam has actually pulled a masterstroke of noble self-sacrifice to drag England fans kicking and screaming into reality. For this heroic act he should receive the most fittingly old-school prize in British sport, the Sports Personality Of The Year. He may not be the hero England deserves, but he is the hero England needs.
Firstly, I think Allardyce should be praised for his great entrepreneurial spirit in trying to negotiate an extra few hundred thousands pounds on top of the three million he gets from his England salary. This is the sort of can-do attitude that this country encourages under a Conservative government and he should not be punished for it. Sure it's immoral and greedy and corrupt, but in the murky world of football as long as he isn't convicted of sexual assault he can pretty much be considered a saint by comparison. The FA can't hire someone with the nickname 'Big Sam' and act surprised when it turns out he has dodgy financial records. Do your research lads.
Unlike a lot of managers Big Sam knew when to call it quits. It only took one game for him to look at our incredibly mediocre team and realise he needed to cut his losses. He's managed a lot of rubbish teams, but while Bolton, Blackburn and Sunderland knew they were crap and were just happy to stay in the league, for some reason the England national team has illusions of grandeur despite their inept record. This has also happened for Sam at Newcastle and West Ham where entitled fans moaned at him for not playing the “right-way”. He knew he could never win. Expectations always rise and rise as we get further towards tournaments with little or no substance to back up them up. It will always end-up with Ian Wright claiming after a pre-tournament friendly win over Paraguay that he firmly believes England can win it, only to be irate when it all goes wrong. Sam only needed one look at the team to realise that is was an impossible job and sought to manufacture a way out.
But simply quitting would make him look like...well...a quitter. It also might have reflected badly on the already mentally-scarred players, with the media potentially spinning it as they forced him out. He did the noble thing, deliberately sabotaging himself by making a corrupt deal in order to get him the sack. This way he could leave with his 100% winning record in tact, crush any fragments of expectations in the team prematurely so we don't feel the pain during the tournament and give the FA the moral high ground. Handing over to Gareth Southgate is the most sure fire way of entrenching this underachievement, a man with all the passion and charisma of a teenager working a late-shift at a train station cafe. Allardyce's decision to fall on the sword he had placed directly beneath him was a covert attempt to re-adjust England's expectations and make the fans realise how truly average we are.
Now when it comes to sports personality of the year, I think it's fairly obvious that Allardyce should take the award. Every year tedious people who think they are being original have a go at Andy Murray when he is nominated for the award. “How can Andy Murray be sports personality of the year? He doesn't have a personality.” First of all he does have a personality. The trouble is that you only ever hear him speak after he has played a massive game of tennis and is justifiably too tired to answer a load of bland questions from journalists with Robert Downey Jr-esque showmanship. There aren't that many interesting ways to answer, "Are you happy you won?" Secondly, he is a tennis player, what do you expect? No tennis players are particularly interesting, they spend most of their time on the their own repeatedly whacking a ball over a net. They are hardly going to be the life of the party. It's not just Murray who is boring, when was the last time Novak Djokovic came out with a witty quip? I've never heard of any crazy off-field antics coming from Stanislas Wawrinka.
If people want a personality, Sam is your man. He has done more for English football than you can ever imagine. After the humiliation of the Iceland defeat, England fans were frothing at the mouth with rage. People would have happily seen Hodgson hanging in the streets like Mussolini. But since then we've had the Olympics where Great British athletes put in an incredible shift and finished second in the medal table (although if Wiggins has been cheating then about half of those will have to be given back). It proves one thing, that Britain is amazing at every sport, except the one we actually care about. That in itself is the most British thing imaginable. Thanks Sam for protecting the English way. Gone but never forgotten.