With reports that Sam Allardyce is set to have an interview for the role he should have held a long time ago, let me be the first to say that I could not be happier.
Following a desperately disappointing EURO 2016 campaign that saw England eliminated by minnows Iceland, boss Roy Hodgson promptly resigned in the post-match press conference with a pre-prepared speech.
Let’s face it, Roy was never the right man for the job. Despite boasting one of the best records of any England manager – winning 59% of his 56 games in charge – none of that really matters when push came to shove England underperformed when it mattered.
Hodgson managed the national side at two European Championships, with a win rate of just 37% in the eight matches he oversaw. His record at the World Cup is none too good either, granted he only managed three games, but to lose two and then play out a drab 0-0 with, on paper, the worst side in the group, says it all.
We need to be realistic as a football-loving nation. England aren’t as good as Germany, we aren’t as good as Italy, and we aren’t as good as France. But we can be.
Building from the back is the key to success in football. Somebody once told me that a good defence doesn’t win games, good attacking football does. Bullsh*t.
The Premier League champions, Leicester City, had all their success this season with a solid foundation in defence – with the exceptional talent of Ngolo Kanté as the anchor in front of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth.
Defence is the most important aspect of any football team, in my opinion. A good back line can gain you 10 or 12 points over the course of the season.
This is why Sam Allardyce will be so effective as the man in charge of the national team. You look at the Sunderland team he took charge of in the 2015/16 season, on paper that team was not good enough to stay up.
However, with a couple of good additions and emphasizing the philosophy of ‘good football doesn’t matter if you don’t win games’, Allardyce’s side recorded victories against the likes of Stoke City, Manchester United and Chelsea, whilst also picking up credible draws against Southampton, Liverpool and West Ham.
Strong, defensive, counter attacking football was the key to Sunderland’s success and ultimately the Black Cats staying in the division.
Very rarely would you see Sunderland go out and attempt to control the game save for matches against lesser opposition like Newcastle and Everton. Much like Leicester, the Black Cats’ success started at the back and although, like Leicester, they didn’t have the best defenders in the league, they were a well drilled, disciplined unit.
That, in my opinion, is where England fell down. A total lack of discipline defensively, the Three Lions looked decidedly shaky, bordering on abysmal at the back especially against Iceland.
Lack of communication between the back line meant that nobody really ever knew who they were supposed to be marking, something that Big Sam won’t stand for.
As a non-league football fan I have become accustomed to watching gritty defensive performances and so personally I can’t wait to see what Allardyce will bring to the England setup if he does get the job.
It will be good to see England focus more on getting the result than playing good football so maybe we will finally see the end of the “We need to play more like Germany” argument and hopefully a return to the good old days of 4-4-2 and Jermaine Defoe up front with Andy Carroll as his strike partner, making the most deadly forward pair in international football.
I can dream, can’t I?