“On reflection it was a silly thing to do.”
As understatement’s go that might be the best one of the year. Nonetheless, that was the response of “Big Sam” Allardyce on the drive of his home in Bolton before he flew out to Spain to let the dust settle on his 68 days as England Boss.
If there was doubt about whether he should have been appointed in the first place (and let’s be honest, it wasn’t just in the Leisure Leagues’ office where eyebrows were raised at giving the top job in English football to a bloke that had been sacked at West Ham just a year before) then one thing was absolutely agreed upon: Allardyce really wanted the job.
He’s worked all his life for it and he was thrilled to get it. He wasn’t faking that joy either. Which makes it doubly disappointing that before he’d even had his first training session he was trying to use that new position to make a £400,000 deal for a company he’d never heard of and telling anyone who asked how to get round the rules laid down by his own employers.
He didn’t strike a particularly contrite figure this morning: “I was helping out someone who I knew for 30 years and unfortunately it was an error in judgement on my behalf and I paid the consequences. Entrapment has won on this occasion,” he offered to the waiting reporters.
The inference being he was caught for doing something everyone else was doing. He probably was, and if the Daily Telegraph is to be believed today there are at least eight other football figures sweating and waiting for their phone to ring.
Which raises another question: quite how keen are the FA to actually get to the bottom of this corruption in English football? Whatever they say, would they rather just let things go on that no doubt everyone knows goes on than let the wider public in on the secrets of what is probably a grubby little world. As time goes on, you’d imagine if this is the tip of the iceberg that everyone suspects, they might have no choice.
So goodbye Big Sam, the 68 days were fun. Stories about what he said on Kevin Nolan’s stag-do (“the only foreign thing that will pass my lips this weekend is 12 pints of Stella” was his response when asked if he wanted a continental breakfast) prove he was in more in tune with football fans than most, and the fact he got Paddy McGuiness and Bradley Walsh in to do a pub quiz for the players showed he was a little less austere than Roy Hodgson, and if nothing else at least he can say he’s got a 100% record while in charge.
When asked for information by the journalists camped in his street this morning, Allardyce said: “I’ve got a confidentiality agreement, lads.” It’s a shame he didn’t keep his lips as firmly sealed when offered the chance of a nice little earner on the side.
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