Less than three months after his sacking by the FA, “Big Sam” Allardyce is back in the managerial hot seat but this time at Crystal Palace.
The deal was presumably struck over Sam’s traditional pint of wine, gravy or any other fluid he fancies with Steve Parish sat waiting for the tirade of why “Sam Allardyce Is The Best Manager In The World” to be completed so he could get pen on paper and sign Allardyce up.
I might mock but I can totally imagine this is how it happened. What is probably more likely is that he cut a rather more humble figure than he did in September when footage of him striking that infamous “deal” was published by the Daily Telegraph. You would think after that debacle Allardyce would put forward his case for the job based on his record and his ability, rather than his ego (although he might struggle to get over that part).
In any case Allardyce is now in charge and has started fairly well. The players seem to be responding to him (his credentials as a strong man-manager obviously playing a part there), he earned a tight draw away at Watford (which you could argue Palace should have won but for Heurelho Gomes) and the mood around the club seems to have improved. The question is: can we expect to see Crystal Palace in the Premier League next year?
You would have to think that, after the start they have had, Palace have to be looking at survival as their main aim now. They are currently two points outside of the relegation places, but with a trip to Arsenal on Sunday and Sunderland’s entirely winnable game at Burnley, it is not unthinkable that the London club could be in the bottom three come the New Year.
What could be a blessing for Allardyce is that the transfer window is set to open. You would have to think that shoring up the back has to be Allardyce’s main priority and, with his track record of bringing the best out of older players, you wouldn’t bet against him bringing in some established players who are up for a fight. Another good thing for the Midlands man is that the Crystal Palace squad is actually not that bad. If Allardyce can turn his man-management into performances on the pitch then you would have to think the results would start to come as well.
One possible hitch could be Allardyce’s tactics. Big Sam himself bemoans his tag as a “long ball specialist”, he prefers to concentrate on how organised his teams are, but the amount of so-called flair players at the club might make this difficult. One of the hallmarks of Palace’s season so far has been the lack of organisation that has helped them ship nearly twice as many goals as games played. This is something that Allardyce will need to address as soon as possible, otherwise having a new manager will not be enough to save them.
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