Big Sam’s Big Job Starts Now

Sunderland have tonight confirmed the appointment of Sam Allardyce as their new manager on a two year deal following the departure of Dick Advocaat. I couldn’t be happier. Personally I don’t think there could be a better appointment for the Black Cats from those realistically available.

Speaking on the club website Big Sam had this to say:

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“I have enjoyed my break from football and now I’m raring to get back. I met with Ellis and we spoke at length about the club and his ambitions and I knew I wanted to be part of that. I hope to be able to help to bring the stability and success that everyone wants. Of course it’s a challenging job, but it’s something I have experience of in the past.”

It will be interesting to see now what changes Allardyce brings to the club immediately. Rumours abound that free agent Kevin Nolan will be quickly signed up in order to join the manager that he’s followed on a number of occasions. Allardyce will no doubt wish to surround himself with familiar faces who he can trust and Carlton Cole may also find that he is part of Sam’s short term plans. With regards to appointing an assistant, it wouldn’t be surprising if Neil McDonald is poached from Blackpool too given their precarious position.

The former West Ham manager captained the Black Cats in the 1980/81 season and knows all about the obsession of the fans. Allardyce added:

“I’m looking forward to working with the players and of course I will be relying on the help of the Sunderland supporters, whose tremendous passion I have experienced first hand.”

Ellis Short took the opportunity to put right a few erroneous statements, which circulated in some media circles after Advocaat left the club last weekend. Also speaking on the club website Short said:

“I would like to assure our fans that once Dick made us aware of his intention to leave, Lee Congerton oversaw an organised and structured recruitment process, that bore very little resemblance to what has been described in the media. For example, this was a very popular job, proactively sought after by a large number of managers - contrary to much of what has been portrayed. The process was made easier by the fact that Sam was such an obvious choice. The other misconception is that Sam had to be persuaded to join us; nothing could be further from the truth. From the very beginning, he understood the importance of this job and showed great enthusiasm for the role and a desire to be part of moving this club forward.”

The fact that the club took the opportunity to mention this in the press release suggests that several stories that have ran in the press this week have irked the Sunderland hierarchy and with good reason. Some reports seemed to indicate that Allardyce had turned down the job and others appeared to suggest that it was a role that attracted hardly any interest.

In the end Sunderland appear to have got their number one target.

However, perhaps the most interesting point to come out of the announcement was that Allardyce has been appointed as manager and not head coach. Presumably this means Sunderland’s dalliance with the Director of Football model is now at an end.

All in all Sam Allardyce is as close to a guarantee as you can get to avoiding relegation. If it turns out that this is not the case then there is no better manager to bring Sunderland back up. A very solid appointment, well done Ellis Short.