Big Sam is no big-timer, By Bamidele Johnson

Of utmost comedy value. That is my assessment of Sam Allardyce’s claim that he is a top-tier manager after he was announced as Javi Garcia’s replacement as Leeds manager. Safe to say he believes his own hype, having once claimed that he would win the La Liga or Serie A yearly if he managed Real Madrid or Inter Milan.

 Also, while managing West Ham, Allardyce once said Premier League top four sides never looked in his direction because his surname is not an exotic foreign one. “I won’t ever be going to a top-four club because I’m not called Allardici, just Allardyce,” he said, before quickly adding: “That was tongue in cheek.”

Given his boast that he is in the same bracket as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Arteta, it would seem that “tongue in cheek” was thrown in at the time to dilute his boast and stave off mockery in the media. He believes his own hype. Simple. There are those who probably believe he is top-tier, given that he has had so many gigs. None of those was a headline gig aside from, let’s say, the job of the England manager on which he had a 100 percent win rate because he only managed the Three Lions for one game before scandal forced him out.

There must be reasons the big hitters do not consider him when they have had vacancies. I do not know what they are, but I do not believe they include the possibility of him demanding that the hiring club contractually commit to supplying him Wrigley’s or Orbit chewing gum. It may also not be about playing philosophy, of which Allardyce’s is Jorge Valdano’s “shit on a stick as poetry”. But then, Mourinho and Benitez, to name just two, got headline gigs despite their safety-first approach.

Allardyce has a solid resume, mainly as a relegation firefighter; a short-term expert. He is yet to convince anyone that he can build a project and give it an appealing identity. Luciano Spalleti at Napoli, Eddie Howe at Newcastle and previously Bournemouth as well as Julian Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim built projects that cannot be described as short-term and produced identities that resonated and still resonate with the football-watching public outside of their own fanbases. In an era that football is a product, I doubt that club boards with ambitions to have their teams loved globally would take a harmonica player with rudimentary skills over a philharmonic orchestra.

 Allardyce’s ability at saving teams from relegation was God-tier. That was until 2020 when he bombed at West Brom. Perhaps, it is also due to his personal lack of pizzaz. Life commitment to agricultural football is bad enough without having a face like you are terminally constipated. The cameras (and high-end club suits) are unlikely to be interested in you with a face like the apocalypse. Big Sam can big himself up all he wants, but evidence declines to support the claim that he is a big-timer.

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