Football

Sam Allardyce's Glorious Suggestion To Turn England Into World Cup Contenders

Sam Allardyce's Glorious Suggestion To Turn England Into World Cup Contenders

Sam Allardyce was on Monday Night Football last night in what we can only hope is an early sign that he's ready to get back into football management and show us all what we've been missing. If Roy Hodgson can be trusted to turn around a team's fortunes in the age of hyper-inflation Premier League, then surely it's only a matter of time before Allardyce gets the Save Our Season call once again.

To be fair to Big Sam, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that his unique brand of 'I'll fight yer da' football management was exactly what England needed. Alas, what happened, happened and he'll never get to chance to prove his worth with England at a major tournament. The closest thing we were ever likely to get to Mike Bassett England Manager was ruined by a pesky reporter and what may or may not have been a pint of wine.

However, that at least means we get to hear Allardyce's suggestions on what he would have done if and when he guided England to the World Cup in Russia next summer. Towards the end of his appearance on MNF, Allardyce was asked what exactly England can do to improve at major tournaments. His response was everything we'd want to hear and more - it even included the phrase 'in the old days'.

I would have gone about trying fixing that in many different ways. One would have been to use sport science, like I have done throughout my career, and try to get the focus right.

We need to get the players into a really good frame of mind and get them performing like they do at club level or how they have done in qualifying. The team seems to do exceptionally well in qualifying for tournaments but at tournaments, the longer it goes on the more pressure the players have to deal with.

They've got to get mentally strong enough to cope and deliver under that pressure.

An understandable suggestion and something which England have failed to do time and time again on the highest stage. So, any suggestions as to what sport science might manifest itself as on a practical level?

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Forget what the press might think and go shopping and go and have your own time. Don't be bogged down and enclosed all together in the same space day in, day out.

Don't be getting bored because boredom creates mental negativity which can make you feel lethargic whereas if you've used your time well and enjoyed doing something different it helps.

In the old days they'd go out and have a few pints. Brian Clough won the European Cup and told his players to have a few beers.

Clough is the greatest manager we've seen in this country but what would happen if he did that now? He'd be hounded out. Not all the players want a beer and not all of the players drink but it's important they do something to relax and not be intense.

That's what we want to hear. Here's how Cloughie would have done it...

We were so close to seeing how it would have all played out in reality. That investigation that led to Allardyce's removal as England manager really has done a great disservice to world football. As it is, we'll just have to imagine how Big Sam's England would have fared against the likes of Spain, Brazil and Germany next summer.

Given Ireland's history at major tournaments, we are of course being rather harsh on Allardyce. It's no secret that Jack Charlton's greatest successes were built on the intricate blueprint that Allardyce suggests. But as Roy Keane will no doubt tell you, football has moved on from the days of Clough and Charlton and it may take a bit more preparation than 'go out and relax lads' to turn England into World Cup contenders.

Gary Reilly

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