As someone who undertook his FA coaching badges at the same time as Alan Pardew once told me: “Pardew can’t pass a mirror. If he was a bar of chocolate, he’d eat himself.”
There’s not a whole lot of love out there for Alan Pardew among his fellow coaches and managers. None would say so to camera or in writing but many of them are, like me, baffled as to why this man gets hired. But he’s back. This time he’ll be strutting his stuff at West Bromwich Albion.
As those who run Everton take out their abacus and get to grips with just how much Sam Allardyce will cost them, football fans are asking why the same old names get hired for the same old jobs.
Football chairmen display a lack of ambition when they constantly hire the usual suspects. They are risk averse.
It is said they are fearful of taking a chance on a promising manager, perhaps one who has performed well at a lower level. Were I running West Brom or Everton, I would have hired the current Sheffield United manager, Chris Wilder. At any price. Instead of which they have hired – at great expense – men who are quick to tell anyone prepared to listen that they are great at their job.
As ex Norwich and Celtic striker Chris Sutton said on radio last week: “What has Chris Wilder done wrong that he doesn’t even get mentioned for these Premier League jobs?”
He has a point. Wilder has improved the fortunes of every league club he has managed. His latest, Sheffield United, sit second in the Championship only a few months after being promoted from League 1. He’s done so with a fairly average set of players made up of well travelled footballers, blended with a couple of promising youngsters. Sheffield United would do everything to prevent him leaving. Wilder himself may prefer to wait and see if he can take the Blades to the Premier League at the first attempt. After all, a Sheffield United side in the top flight will attract a greater support than a struggling West Brom or Swansea.
When will the owner of a football club show some balls and hire a manager on the way up?
Meanwhile, back on planet Pardew, he has spent months contacting those who run football clubs as far apart as Sheffield and Swansea, telling them that they would be better off sacking the incumbent manager and hiring him. The man has absolutely no shame. A fact his contemporaries know only too well. His persistence has paid off. He has landed yet another Premier League job. West Brom fans wanted their lives to be more interesting. They are likely to get their wish. For better or worse.
The former Arsenal defender Martin Keown said of Pardew, a man who showed his dance moves at Wembley: “He’s got a massive ego, if you’ve been around him. He’s a yo-yo manager. He’s not bad, he’s a decent manager. I think this is his last big chance. If he doesn’t get it right, we won’t see him in the Premier League again.”
I can but hope.
Sam Allardyce is a man who has announced his own retirement more often than Frank Sinatra. He’s back. This time, five weeks after his first interview at Goodsion Park, he’s landed the plum job as manager of a once great football club. Everton, the club that gave us the brilliant, thrilling ‘Golden Vision’ team of the sixties, will now play football the Allardyce way.
Sam will no doubt shake up a dressing room that contains players who have given too little of late and those who cost way too much money in the transfer market. It’s possible Allardyce will inspire the likes of Wayne Rooney who, while clearly past his best, can still produce crucial goals if employed correctly.
Everton players will have to do it his way, or hit the highway. Sam doesn’t take prisoners.
Hiring Allardyce, along with assistants Sammy Lee and Craig Shakespeare, will cost Everton a small fortune. But he’ll not doubt ensure the Toffees don’t come unstuck and end up in the Championship. Allardyce will get the players in shape and on his side. Mostly. He will stop the woeful marking and plug a leaking defence that has cost Everton so many goals of late. It’s not going to be pleasing on the eye, but all Everton supporters care about right now is staying up.
A catalogue of errors at the highest level led to Everton being in this parlous state. Not having a replacement lined up for Romelu Lukaku ahead of his move to Manchester United was the obvious one. Many weeks ahead of his move it was obvious he was off to Old Trafford. Who at the club was responsible for not signing his replacement? Was it manager Ronald Koeman? Was it the so called director of football, Steve Walsh? His recruitment policy since joining Everton from Leicester seems to be one based on buying decent or average footballers for hugely inflated transfer fees.
Swansea, another club employing people other than the manager to buy and sell, are themselves in danger of being relegated (as I predicted pre-season to members of my VG Tips service). They could hardly believe their luck when Everton offered to pay £40 million plus a further £5 million in potential add-ons for Gylfi Sigurdsson. He’s an influential footballer I admire. Sigurdsson can score great goals and is very good taking free kicks, but his real skill is laying on chances for the main striker. What was the point in overpaying for him when Everton had sold their chief goalscorer and omitted to replace him with another? It was a club record fee for a club that once boasted a midfield of Ball, Harvey and Kendall.
Everton wasted a staggering sum of money on players in the summer. Now they have hired a manager who will cost them a fortune.
It was enlightening to hear Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk speak about how hard it is for a manager outside of the Premier League to be hired by one of the top flight clubs. He said: “There are some good managers in the lower leagues. To get to the Premier League you have to take a team there. Everyone wants to go to the Premier League but the reality is, as with Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche, to manage there you have to take a club up and stabilise things from there.”
Dyche and Howe are perfect examples of young British coaches who can coach well while managing men and money just as well as older and more experienced football managers.
But for the moment at least, the usual suspects always get the vacant gig. Right now someone is ordering more mirrors for the walls at The Hawthorns and nightclubs in Liverpool are hoping ‘Big Sam’ will be splashing his cash at their bar and strutting his stuff on the dance floor.