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Sam Allardyce's Ingenious First Act As Ents Manager Shows How Different He Is To Predecessor

Sam Allardyce's Ingenious First Act As Ents Manager Shows How Different He Is To Predecessor
By Conor Neville Updated

Roy Hodgson told the Daily Telegraph a couple of years ago that his favourite novels were 'Rabbit Run' by John Updike, 'American Pastoral' by Philip Roth, and 'The Adventures of Augie March' by Saul Bellow.

That's seven US National Book Awards, four Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction, and one Nobel Prize for Literature between them, and ne'er a mention of Andy McNabb on the list.

And yet in spite of this, the fusty old incompetents within the FA hierarchy still thought that this was an appropriate man to connect with the modern England footballer.

This, we must remember, is a man who, when asked to take over at Inter Milan as caretaker manager for the final six weeks of the 1998-99 season, asked to be paid in opera tickets rather than money.

Hodgson and Inter President Massimo Morratti duly trotted off to the La Scala for an evening of Verdi, an episode which would surely have had the infamously intolerant English footballers of the day questioning his manhood? We all know what Graeme Le Saux had to endure when he was caught reading the Guardian.

Is it any wonder that such a man failed to lead to England to within an asses' roar of the promised land?

It naturally ended in hideous failure in France this summer and Hodgson decided to pack away his hardbacks and leave the post swiftly.

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And going by Roy's reading list, he will surely be asked to chair the judging panel of next year's Man Booker Prize award, which would make him the first ex-England manager to do so.

Sticking to their longstanding tradition of seeking out a manager who the media deemed roughly the polar opposite of the man they'd just fired/who'd resigned, the FA went looking for Hodgson's antithesis.

England needed a manager who, when asked what he thought of Jean Paul Sartre, would respond ,"I dunno, I haven't been to see Paris St. Germain recently."

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This, it transpired, was not a foreigner - well travelled Roy was half-foreign anyway, or at least might as well have been - but as English an Englishman that has ever wolfed down fish and chips.

Big Sam may well be a far more cultured man than the stereotype suggests, but his opening gambit on the entertainment front hasn't done anything much to alter his image.

Delightfully, the great Daniel Taylor of the Guardian informs us that big Sam's first act as ents manager was to invite Paddy McGuinness and Bradley Walsh down to host a quiz night for the England players ahead of the World Cup qualification opener in Slovakia.

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This isn't Saul Bellow or John Updike. This isn't tickets to the La Scala. This isn't boat rides up the Seine. The England setup is saying goodbye to all that.

Hodgson would presumably be rather bemused by the sight of Paddy McGuinness and Bradley Walsh.

The phrase 'No likey, no lighty' would mean nothing to Roy. Asked to guess what it was, he might suggest that the phrase appeared in the opening pages of 'A Portrait of the Artist as a young man', when Stephen Dedalus was still an infant.

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Either way, it's clear that the FA have found a man who is more in step with the hearts and minds of his players. A happier camp will surely follow.

Read more: Great Tales From Ireland Which Could Make Sam Allardyce's England Much Harder To Dislike

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