Comment: Big Sam has never looked as small as he does right now


Sports writer Alistair Mason assesses the short and not particularly sweet England career of Sam Allardyce.

He may be known as Big Sam, but in some ways he's always come across as a small man.

A man with a seriously big chip on his seriously big shoulder, Sam Allardyce has discovered there's more to success than having an Italian surname.

The 61-year-old has left job as England manager just 67 days into his tenure as England manager after the Football Association announced his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

Sam Allardyce on the sidelines

The former Bolton man famously once said - ostensibly with his tongue in his cheek - that he would never manage a big club because he's "not called Allardici, just Allardyce".

But given the chance to prove he belongs at the very top of the game, he blew it. He has no excuses.

What would drive a man at the apex of his career even to associate with people whose motives so clearly appeared to be less than kosher?

There's something epically tragic about the arc of a man who has ached so consistently and so publicly for a chance at the biggest stage, only to bring himself spectacularly crashing down when he got it.

This is hubris on a Shakespearean scale.

Sam Allardyce gestures to the fans

What is clear is that Allardyce has lost any right he had to feel sorry for himself.

Allardyce has long appeared to be a man obsessed with status, constantly convinced he doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Mocked for his style of football at Bolton, disrespected by all involved at Newcastle, never really wanted at West Ham and steadfastly ignored for any of the Premier League's top jobs, you could certainly have sympathy with Allardyce's general view that life wasn't 100% fair to him when he complained he didn't get the opportunities that other coaches did.

Well, as status symbols go, what better job than England manager?

Eyes were raised when he was given the job after Roy Hodgson's tenure ended so underwhelmingly, and his credentials questioned.

Sam Allardyce with an England scarf

But with his feet under the desk at Wembley he could puff out his considerable chest and hold court safe in the knowledge he was finally, unquestionably important.

But then it turned out he didn't have much to say that was really worth listening to.

His one match in charge, a World Cup qualifier against Slovakia, will probably be best remembered for his starstruck treatment of Wayne Rooney.

After another horrible performance from Rooney, the England manager came straight out and said that the skipper could play "wherever he wanted to", adding: "It's not for me to say where he's going to play. It's up to me to ask whether he's doing well in that position."

Inspiring stuff there from the great Allardici.

Sam Allardyce in an England training session

But when has it ever been any different?

Allardyce has talked before about his love of winding up Arsene Wenger. He's derided "tippy-tappy" football as "a load of b******s". He's constantly talked up his own credentials and his ability to do bigger jobs than he gets.

Well here's a brutal truth for Allardyce to contemplate. Had he been called Allardici, not Allardyce, he would never have been given the England job in the first place.

In a Brexit-fuelled environment of patriotism this summer, an overseas coach never appeared to be a serious option, so it was Steve Bruce, Allardyce or nothing.

There were plenty of better qualified overseas managers who, rightly or wrongly, were never considered.

Sam Allardyce on the bench with England

And one of the sad aspects of the Allardyce fall from grace is that unquestionably, through the bitterness and bad grace that always saturated his complaints about never being given a chance, there was a worthwhile point somewhere in there.

It is true that British coaches are not being given the chances they deserve in the top jobs. Let's not forget, no English manager has ever won the Premier League.

Allardyce had a chance to prove that homegrown managers are not being given a fair crack of the whip.

What a poor cheerleader for their cause - for his own cause - he turned out to be.

Now he will certainly never manage a big club, and it's not because of his surname.

Sam Allardyce looks dejected

It's because he's proved he cannot be trusted to put the needs of the team ahead of his own self-interest.

Big Sam has never seemed smaller.