Evidently, Advocaat couldn’t take anymore pain at Sunderland, and who could blame him. Taking the Sunderland job was a bit of a ‘why not?’ move because Advocaat just tends to move around… a lot. Bringing Sam Allardyce in, a manager with a similar reputation for having held a lot of jobs during his career, seems like the perfect fit for Sunderland…so what should we expect from the 60 year old journeyman?
1) Transfer Business
Expect Joey O’Brien, Kevin Nolan and Ricardo Vaz Te to be on their way in then! In all seriousness, Sam Allardyce has a reputation for bringing in players that just know how to get the job done. Kevin Nolan, being a free agent, would add some valuable experience and bite to a Sunderland attack that has been lacking, and expect him to bring in another big striker as he has done in the past a la Andy Carroll, or Carlton Cole. Allardyce has been known to be busy in the transfer window, but will have to drastically move Sunderland away from their recent transfer policies of bringing in players that aren’t experienced in the Premier League and simply trying to throw a team together. One of the main reasons Advocaat left was because of disagreements over transfers. Sunderland will have to pay up, and trust Allardyce with a decent transfer kitty if they are serious about staying up.
2) A Better Defence
Big Sam told the Sunderland official website “I think I just have to improve the defensive record”. Sunderland have conceded 18 goals in their 8 Premier League games; an awful stat that cannot be put down to bad luck as the performances of defenders like Younes Kaboul and Patrick Van Aanholt have been harrowing. However, if there’s one thing Allardyce knows how to do well, it’s to organise.
He’ll benefit from the experience of 34-year-old former Manchester United man John O’Shea and could gel together a few cracks before bringing in a top centre-back in January. One possible solution may be to look at Dutch ‘2014 World Cup’ star and free agent Ron Vlaar as a more desperate measure.
3) Long Balls
Sam Allardyce did in fairness play some good football with West Ham at the start of last season before being told his contract would not be renewed (what fantastic motivation!?) I will warn Sunderland fans however, to expect something a little more ugly – although admittedly, it can only really get better. West Ham last season were a team in an advancing state, that had the license to experiment a bit more. Allardyce knows however, that his remit at Sunderland is something quite different. Expect a direct style of football that’s going to utilise either Fletcher or Borini alongside Jermain Defoe. Defoe, who Advocaat refused to play in a central position, will be vital to Sunderland in an Allardyce system making the runs in behind the defence and latching onto a frequent number of crosses.
4) Entertaining Interviews
Sam Allardyce is known to say exactly what he thinks about different situations. Despite never having managed at a top club he doesn’t seem to be afraid of waging duels with managers of high reputations.
In the 2013/14 season, José Mourinho became frustrated with Big Sam after West Ham secured a 0-0 draw with Chelsea. Mourinho accused West Ham of playing ’19th century football’ to which Allardyce replied, ‘I don’t give a s**te’.
5) Preventing relegation
Sam Allardyce has never led a team out of the Premier League. He has a proven track record having managed Newcastle, Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham – all of whom have survived relegation troubles over the past decade. If anyone can take a poorly run club out of a vicious cloud of impending doom it’s Sam but it’s likely to prove to be his toughest challenge yet, having sacked four managers in the last three years.
Allardyce needs to find a way to motivate a side that have not come back from behind to win a game since April 2014 (against Chelsea), and have earned just one point at home this season. He’ll keep them up, but there’s no guarantee he’ll do more than that.