There’s a place where Sam Allardyce is adored and feted for his footballing genius. Where he’s seen as a man who takes his lemons and makes vats of lemonade. A hero who manages wretched teams and squeezes performances out of them until the pips squeak and the fans squeal with delight. A man who is immune to criticism, relegation, and social media morons.
There’s a place where Sir Sam Allardyce, having won the World Cup and turned down the chance to manage Real Madrid (“too easy”) bounds around England like Henry V.
He’s better than Henry V though.
His Agincourts, hard won victories against the odds, are too many to count. He beat Liverpool on away goals last season! Total mastery. Liverpool! It could be Everton playing in the business end of the Champions League. If only Sam’s players would have listened…
There’s a place where Big Sam is seen as too good for Everton, and where Marco Silva – not Sam – is the one who is taking Everton backwards.
That place is in Sam Allardyce’s head, and the heads of his friends in the media.
Friends like Jim White, Garth Crooks, Andy Gray, Robbie Fowler, Paul Merson, Richard Keys – people armed with feelings rather than facts. Pundits who have gleefully glugged the Sam Allardyce Kool-Aid from pint glasses filled to the tippy top. I’m quite sure most of the time when these experts spout their pundit offal on TV they are unsure until the very last minute whether they’ll give viewers a pearl of wisdom or a burp.
In reality – that place where everyone else resides – Sam did an appalling job at Everton. The Liverpool Echo laid it out very simply with these end of season stats:
Shots on target – 20th
Shots at goal – 20th
Chances created – 20th
Big chances created – 11th
Dribbles – 19th
Possession – 13th
Allardyce’s appointment – one borne from the irrational fear of relegation – provided the final decisive blow to a season that barely had a pulse to begin with. He successfully turned us into a club with no direction and no discernible playing style. He managed to defuse Goodison, a ticking bomb of positivity and a very real weapon in home games under some managers. And all the while us fans had to dodge happiness shrapnel from our neighbours next door.
He’s a footballing Dementor, a man who has sucked all joy out of Everton.
Everton never had the Sam Allardyce that resides in these people’s imaginations. We never had this footballing Henry V, this tactical mastermind who could turn a dire team into gold. That Sam, that mythical beast, was the best manager we never had. And no one will ever have him. That Sam doesn’t exist.