Is Sam Allardyce the right man for England? The key questions answered...


Sam Allardyce has emerged as a leading contender to replace Roy Hodgson as England manager after his club Sunderland confirmed he had permission to hold talks with the Football Association.

The 61-year-old was originally interviewed for the role in 2006, only to be overlooked in favour of Steve McClaren.

Here, sports writer Mark Mann-Bryans looks at some of the key questions surrounding whether Allardyce would be the right man to take England forward:

What is his record like at club level?

Sam Allardyce with Bolton chairman Phil Gartside

Allardyce boasts a managerial career stretching back to 1994 when he took his first full-time appointment at Blackpool. Since then he has built a career on getting the most out of unfancied sides and players who have been largely written off elsewhere.

He took Bolton into the Premier League and eventually into Europe with a team sprinkled with talents such as Jay-Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo and Youri Djorkaeff - all players considered over the hill before playing under Allardyce.

A couple of unsuccessful spells at Newcastle and Blackburn dented his standing somewhat, but he returned to take West Ham from the Championship back into the top flight in his first season, establishing them before being replaced. Troubled Sunderland then came calling and he kept them up with some astute January signings.

So he must have a good reputation?

Sam Allardyce with Jose Mourinho

Not quite. Allardyce has been derided as a manager who employs the long-ball game, who is happy to win ugly and whose teams are often over-physical.

As a bruising defender from the West Midlands, he has worked hard to shake that tag, notably in his previous two jobs, but it is something which may worry England fans who want to see the national side play with a swagger.

For all of his detractors, Allardyce has the support of a very influential figure - former Manchester United manager and close friend Sir Alex Ferguson.

So he is not very forward-thinking then?

On the contrary, Allardyce has long been at the forefront of making use of the latest technological advances to improve his sides.

He was one of the very first English managers to make use of the ProZone software, statistical analysis programmes which played a big part in his early success at Bolton. He has maintained his approach and much of football followed in those footsteps around the turn of the millennium.

Will he be an FA yes man?

Sam Allardyce and Rafa Benitez on the touchline

It is unlikely. Allardyce has form for saying what he thinks and has never been afraid of taking on the world's best managers both on and off the pitch.

He had a long-standing rivalry with Rafael Benitez and has also had run-ins with the likes of Arsene Wenger, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho down the years - although he and the Portuguese are now friends after their work together at SoccerAid.

If he is good enough for England, why have no 'big' clubs showed an interest?

Sam Allardyce on the sidelines

As well as his aforementioned reputation preceding him, Allardyce has joked in the past he does not have a name fancy enough to be considered for a top-four club.

"I'm not called Allardici, just Allardyce," he said back in 2012. But he does boast a huge amount of self-belief, claiming during his time at Blackburn he was better suited to Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United or Chelsea and saying he would win the double with any of those clubs.