England calling? Big Sam becomes favourite for national team hotseat

July 13 – A household name in English football but little known overseas, Sam Allardyce is emerging as the frontrunner to take over from Roy Hodgson as England manager.

Allardyce’s club, Sunderland, which has narrowly avoided relegation in recent seasons, have given the Football Association (FA) permission to speak to Allardyce though they insist he is “very much key to our plans”.

Sunderland claim speculation about Allardyce has been “extremely damaging” and have urged the FA to “bring about a swift resolution to the matter”.

Hodgson quit last month after England were knocked out of Euro 216 by Iceland and there has been intense speculation about who will take over.

The 61-year-old Allardyce is seven years younger than Hodgson and his appointment, if it happens, will split opinion. Allardyce’s supporters say he is a man-motivator par excellence who gets the best out of individual players and plays to his team’s strengths. Others counter that England should go for a younger, more dynamic and adventurous individual rather than someone who has spent his entire managerial career immersed in the English club game and never won a major honour.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn, technical director Dan Ashworth and vice-chairman David Gill are leading the process and ideally want a new man in place to prepare for the first 2018 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on September 4.

Allardyce’s former assistant at Bolton Wanderers, Phil Brown, believes he would be the perfect man to lift the nation after the disastrous Euro 2016 campaign.

Brown told TalkSport Radio: “We lost our identity at the Euros. Passion – that’s what was missing. Sam wouldn’t allow that. If it happens once, it would never happen again with him. These players need to understand that they represent their country.”

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