Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge
Now that the dust has settled on Sam Allardyce’s appointment as the new England manager, it’s time to sit back and work out exactly what he needs to do. And it isn’t an easy task for him (or us armchair pundits).
The manner in which England crashed out of Euro 2016 and the lasting effect it will have on that squad will take some time to repair. Likewise, regaining the trust and admiration of the mentally-scarred fans will take some doing. But it is possible with the right plan.
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With that in mind, let’s consider 6 things Mr Allardyce will need to do in order for our World Cup 2018 campaign to be anything but another abject disappointment and maybe - just maybe - provide a more current entry for the list of the World Cup’s greatest moments.
1. Introduce a proper plan
Alan Shearer lambasted Roy Hodgson for not having any kind of plan. And it’s hard to argue with that; unlike many teams in the Euros, England’s purpose both on and off the pitch seemed to be rather vacant. Allardyce needs a plan both in terms of the squad he fields and the type of football it plays - not last minute reactions during big games.
2. Move on from Rooney.
Wayne Rooney showed glimpses of his often-hidden brilliance at Euro 2016, but it wasn’t enough to carry the side through and, if he is considered the elder statesman who’s very presence is enough to provide wins at big tournaments, it’s a tactic that clearly isn’t working. Will Allardyce be the first to make this decision?
3. Be a father figure to Sterling
Raheem Stirling was one of the biggest casualties in France. His performance was off-par and he reacted poorly to the criticism hurled his way. That said, in the opening game he did show what he was capable of, and he is undoubtedly a talent. Big Sam therefore needs to put an arm around the young kid and bring him out of his shadow.
4. Change the goalkeeper
Joe Hart’s performance in the Euros was woeful and he clearly needs bringing down a peg or two. There’s only one way to do both that and sure up England’s performance between the sticks, and that’s to drop him and give someone like Fraser Forster a chance. Just as Rooney’s day has come, it’s time to look beyond Man City’s keeper when it comes to our national team.
5. Avoid the temptation to fiddle.
One of Hodgson’s major downfalls in tournament football was his tendency to fiddle with both the starting line up and those making an appearance from the bench. Just like the overall plan, Big Sam needs to pick a formation, team, sub strategy - and stick to them.
6. Be himself.
Sam Allardyce is Sam Allardyce - love him or hate him. If he ever feels tempted to mould himself to counter grumblings in the press or dissent from the stands, he should stop and remain true to himself. Thankfully, if you’ve ever witnessed him at a press conference, it seems he is absolutely capable of avoiding this common pitfall.
Wow - not an easy task at all, is it? Only time will tell if Allardyce is capable of overcoming the above, but one thing is certainly for sure - we’re in for a very interesting World Cup Qualifying campaign!