PATRICK COLLINS: Pity the poor foreigners if Sam Allardyce ever gets his way

20 September 2010 10:07
The rise and rise of the football manager is one of the wonders of our sporting age. Once he was the modest fellow who picked the team, pacified the chairman and suffered the sack when it all went wrong. No longer. Now he struts the stage, milking the applause and delivering significant opinions.

He is a figure of substance, a man whose views are not mocked. Unless, of course, he happens to be Sam Allardyce. In which case, mockery may be the only appropriate response.

Time I found a bigger club?: Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce insists he could manager at a higher level

The Lancashire Krakatoa erupted not once but twice last week. It was the usual stuff; part malice, part mischief, part self-promotion, part selfdelusion. And the louder he shouted, the more we wondered: how has it come to this? Why do people hang on the words of one with so little of interest to say?

As you may have gathered, this column has no great regard for Allardyce. His manner is crude and his teams even cruder. He produced a Bolton side which was moderately successful and miserably unwatchable. He was then employed by Newcastle's Freddy Shepherd, shortly before Shepherd decided to seize the money and scamper. Newcastle had become almost as charmless as Bolton when the new chairman, Mike Ashley, sent Allardyce packing with his pride hurt and pockets full. His passing was not widely mourned on Tyneside.

  More from Patrick Collins. Patrick Collins: Now nobody in cricket can believe what they're watching18/09/10 PATRICK COLLINS: With nonsense like this, it's no wonder boxing fears being counted out11/09/10 PATRICK COLLINS: An Englishman for England? It's nonsensical21/08/10 Patrick Collins: Once trusted Capello is now sadly just dead in the water14/08/10 Patrick Collins: 2,689 reasons why Blackpool love affair is tainted already07/08/10 PATRICK COLLINS: Is it any wonder if Capello's England can't fill Wembley?31/07/10 Patrick Collins: Muttiah Muralitharan the magician puts his critics in a spin24/07/10 Coe's Olympic dream: We're right to be staging greatest show in London 24/07/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE  He then he turned up at Blackburn, where he has produced a scowling,muscular, intimidating side, much loved by the kind of people who don'tmuch care for football and enjoyed watching Bolton. And yet, on theback of those dubious achievements, he has grown mysteriouslyambitious.

A few weeks ago, he announced that he would leave the Premier League in two or three seasons and take over a national team.

He didn't specify the fortunate nation - could Germany become more efficient? Do Brazil need more flair? Are Spain really the finished article? - but deep down we knew. Since he doesn't approve of a foreigner managing England, then there was only one job that could accommodate him.

But we may have been wrong. His thoughts are now directed at some of Europe's needy clubs. 'I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter Milan or Real Madrid,' he declared. 'It wouldn't be a problem for me to manage those clubs because I would win the Double or the league every time.'

We imagined all those Italian and Spanish executives wailing: 'Why did we waste our time on Trapattoni, Hiddink, Capello and Del Bosque when Big Sam was there for the taking?'

Yet if a job at Inter or Real should fail to materialise, would his arrogance be dented? Not at all. 'Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same', he promised. 'It wouldn't be a problem.' As you see, he has no shortage of confidence. Ability is a rather different matter. Yet it was that misplaced confidence which led him into another clumsy assault upon his old enemy, Arsene Wenger.

The Arsenal manager holds Allardyce in the deepest contempt and finds great glee in beating Blackburn on a regular basis. For his part, Allardyce loathes Wenger.

Indeed, I suspect he doesn't much care for foreigners at large - he once argued that he would have been offered the England job had his name been 'Allardici'. But Wenger is his most regular target. And so he has lifted his blunderbuss and taken unsteady aim.

Arch rivals: Allardyce and Arsene Wenger clash on a previous occasion

I quote: 'Arsene has most of the media in his pocket now and is almost - almost - affecting the officials so that you can't tackle an Arsenal player. That's something he's very clever at working in his favour, you can see that. He's a very clever man in terms of influencing referees, officials and everyone in football . In terms of saying people are trying to injure players, he's trying to influence, through the media, the referees and that's something they shouldn't get sucked into.'

Extraordinary stuff. Not English but gibberish. It makes John Prescott sound like Barack Obama. And do you know what is worse? He thinks he's being smart. Not that tosh about Wenger pocketing the media - the reality is that the Frenchman barely tolerates scribblers, while few managers work harder at cultivating media chums than Allardyce himself.

No, it's the fact that he clearly believes that by drawing attention to Wenger's alleged attempts to influence referees, he will persuade those same officials to take a harder line with Arsenal.

This is known as a 'mind game', a sport for which Allardyce seems conspicuously ill-equipped.

But perhaps we should not judge him too harshly, for he is both absurdly rewarded and fatuously indulged.

Of course, the best managers firmly refuse to inhale foolish flattery. They are not our concern.

No, the real problems lie with the others, the daftly deluded, the ones who close their eyes and see themselves at San Siro or the Bernabeu, teaching the foreigners the mysteries of Route One.

Mockery is the very least they deserve.

 Football is put in its place by GrantWest Ham United seem destined to spend a struggling season and their manager, Avram Grant, will surely suffer many months of honest criticism and cheap abuse.

Yet his decision to miss yesterday's match at Stoke in order to mark Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, does him enormous credit.

Effectively, he is saying that sport has its place but it is essentially a peripheral pleasure.

Some things are more central, more fundamental and immeasurably more important. Even those of us who are not of the Jewish faith will respect and admire his civilised decision.

 While others pay for Bloodgate, the man in charge carries on regardless Physiotherapist Stephen Brennan was banned from practising his profession last week after admitting using fake blood capsules when working for Harlequins rugby club.

He used them on several occasions, most notably during the infamous Heineken Cup match in 2009. Brennan played an active part in 'Bloodgate' and his punishment is appropriate. Others have also suffered for their roles. Dean Richards, Harlequins' director of rugby and the orchestrator of the abuse, was banned from the game for three years.

The RFU are expected, quite properly, to squash any attempt to circumvent that ban. Dr Wendy Chapman, who assisted the deception, was not struck off but suffered abject humiliation. Tom Williams, the player at the centre of the scam, was suspended while the chairman, Charles Jillings, resigned.

Yet one man survives. Mark Evans is a hands-on chief executive. Little that happens at the club escapes his notice. And yet, despite blood cheating being so open that Brennan actually charged for the capsules on his expenses, Evans (right) knew nothing.

The judgment of Williams's appeal against suspension revealed the player's evidence that Evans had warned him that a 'full disclosure' at the appeal hearing would 'make life extremely difficult for him at the club'. He was told Quins could lose sponsors, they could be expelled from the Heineken Cup and that Williams would be responsible.

Damaging stuff, you may think. But Evans has 'never thought of quitting'. Although the victims of Bloodgate are piled up at his door, he appears quite content.

'It's well over a year since the events,' he says, 'and we've moved to a new place.'

Some might say that he hasn't moved far enough.

  PS: A Question of Sport is to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a nationwide tour. The captains are terribly excited. Phil Tufnell promises 'a lot of fun', Matt Dawson 'just can't wait' and dear Sue Barker is simply bubbling: 'Trying to control Phil and Matt during a live show will be impossible - who knows what might happen!'

For some reason, I recall the reply of Peter Cook when Sarah Ferguson asked him to dinner: 'I'm sorry,' he said, 'but I've checked my diary and I find I shall be watching television that night.'

 Explore more:People:Mike Ashley, Sarah Ferguson, Sam Allardyce, Barack Obama, Freddy Shepherd, Phil Tufnell, John PrescottPlaces:Newcastle, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Brazil, Europe

Source: Daily_Mail