West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce: I have improved every club I have worked for
Which Premier League manager, the Portuguese was asked by an enterprising soul, would he least like to fight? “Big Sam,” he replied playfully, miming the image of a neck being broken. “He would kill me!”The gentleman in question smiles thinly at the recollection. One senses he does not take kindly to this caricature as a Neanderthal belligerent, whose intimidating presence has led to his depiction more than once as the technical area’s answer to Meat Loaf. “It’s always about the way you look, and you can’t help that, can you?” he counters. “Straight away it says to people what you must be old school, a dirty centre-half, and all that rubbish.”Clearly, he in is the mood to shatter preconceptions. For in his second season at West Ham, Allardyce in claret-and-blue guise is a different beast, mellower and far more thoughtful than might be supposed from his thunderous touchline expressions. At 58, after more than a decade spent managing in the Lancashire mill towns of Bolton and Blackburn, he finds that the London life suits him. He and wife, Lynn, rent an apartment in Canary Wharf and are besieged with invitations to soirées across the capital. Here is no provincial dinosaur, but a would-be metropolitan aesthete.
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