The new England manager, Sam Allardyce, today gave a competent and assured first press conference. He fielded questions in a positive and upbeat manner and gave an insight into his footballing philosophy. Allardyce says he's a pragmatist and will deliver the results on the pitch by motivating the players and using a range of flexible tactics and formations. So far so good. But talk is cheap and it's going to take more than a few platitudes to make me forget the dismal English performances at the European Championships just a few weeks ago.
As a long-suffering fan of the English national #Football team, it came as no great surprise that England yet again failed to achieve anything of note at the Euro Championships this summer. It's just the way of the world. The sun rises every day, the Pope's Catholic, England comes home early. While teams such as Wales and Iceland excelled beyond their expectations and the usual powerhouses, the likes of Germany and Italy, again performed to their strengths, in contrast the England team huffed and puffed, flattered to deceive, and ultimately delivered nothing other than a sinking feeling in the pit of millions of English fans' stomachs. Providing Allardyce can secure us a place at the Russia 2018 World Cup, by no means a forgone conclusion, his main challenge will be to enable the English players to make the most of their undoubted talents. If I were Allardyce, I'd start by showing the players all the recent Iceland team's matches in the hope that they may learn something about passion and team spirit!
Allardyce one of several candidates.
The process of finding a new manager after Hodgson's reign ended was typically predictable. Men in suits, some of which have little or no playing experience, were tasked with the process of choosing the next manager. The press, too, played their usual part. They frantically threw names into the ring, the best foreign managers and the best English managers vied for column inches. Online polls asked English fans for their preferred candidate and everyone held their breath in anticipation for the verdict. It's fair to say that Allardyce wasn't at the top of everyone's list with the likes of Arsene Wenger, Jürgen Klinsmann and Glenn Hoddle early leading candidates.
But Allardyce is the new hope, the man given the task of uplifting a nation, of delivering our first tournament win since 1966. To be fair, he has an excellent track record of keeping teams in the Premier League but he's not won anything of note either. Is he really the one to deliver success? Time will tell, but it seems that many are underwhelmed by his appointment to say the least, myself included. I just hope that things will be different this time. C'mon England!