The former Bolton Wanderers and England manager Sam Allardyce is one of the contenders for the top job in Indian football. Reports indicate that Allardyce has expressed his interest to the AIFF through his agent.
The Indian Head Coach role is currently vacant following the departure of Stephen Constantine after the AFC Asian Cup in January 2019. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had recently announced that it was inviting applicants for the role and the deadline for submissions was March 29th.
A number of I-League and Indian Super League coaches have applied for the role alongside managers from abroad in what an official from AIFF has described as an ‘overwhelming response.’ The new coach is expected to be announced by April 15th.
Sam Allardyce has extensive experience in English football both as a player and as a manager. As a player, he mostly plied his trade with Bolton Wanderers in the 70s before returning as a manager between the years 1999-2007. Till date, apart from the national team, he has managed prominent clubs like Everton, West Ham United, Sunderland and Newcastle United among many others.
Sam Allardyce is considered as one of the first to use sports science as a tool in club football in England. He is also regarded as a man with a midas touch – preventing clubs from getting relegated and helping lower league clubs go up the divisions. However, he has often been criticised for his long-ball approach to the game and emphasis on set-pieces – Mourinho at one point referred to West Ham’s football under Big Sam as “football from the 19th century.”
Big Sam is no stranger to controversy either. He resigned from the England job after only one match after the ‘Football for Sale‘ scandal broke out in 2016 where Allardyce was surreptitiously giving advice on how to get around bans on third party ownership of players. There are further allegations of him taking bribes from agents to sign players which is depicted in the 2006 BBC Panorama documentary.
The current head coach of FC Pune City Phil Brown has served as assistant manager to Allardyce at Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers in the early part of his career.
Big Sam’s entry into the Indian coach mix is bound to make it heady and entertaining if nothing else. Loud and sometimes boorish, he has admirers and vociferous dissidents at every turn.