Five things... Sam Allardyce asked in his Sunderland interview


1) Is there a survival bonus?
Big Sam Allardyce is the man Sunderland have chosen to save them from the drop, and with good reason. The Dudley-born disciplinarian has managed for 13 seasons at four different clubs in the Premier League without ever being relegated, but he was reportedly concerned that taking charge of the Black Cats could ruin that proud record. It’s nothing a little financial sweetener couldn’t solve though. Allardyce was revealed to be the 13th highest paid manager in the world while at West Ham, ahead of Diego Simeone and Joachim Low. He has therefore become accustomed to the finest things in life, if not on the pitch. Fine wines, succulent steaks, luxurious winter getaways and a Sky Sports subscription with all the add-ons. Allardyce pocketed a £1.25m promotion bonus in his first season at Upton Park and will want to be similarly rewarded for keeping Sunderland up, enabling him to maintain the lavish lifestyle he deserves.

2) What opportunities are there for progression in this role?
Allardyce has never lacked faith in his ability to manage at the highest level. Sadly, he has been alone in this faith, because no-one at the highest level has ever employed him. But the candle for global domination continues to burn bright within Sam’s loins. “I’m not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid,” he once said. “I would win the double or the league every time. Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same, it wouldn’t be a problem.” And so while he may have accepted the Sunderland job, he would also have secured assurances that the Black Cats would not stand in his way when Madrid, or England, or Brazil, finally come calling.

3) Can I bring Kevin Nolan?
Big Sam has managed every type of player in his career, from legends like Jay-Jay Okocha to liabilities like Modibo Maiga, but if he had to see out his days on a desert island with one of them, it would be Kevin Nolan. Allardyce’s captain and confidante at Bolton and West Ham, Sam likes to keep the mouthy Scouser as close at hand as his Sky Sports remote. Over the years, Nolan has rewarded Allardyce’s trust with countless goals from midfield and unparalleled dressing room banter. But at 33, Nolan’s talents have waned considerably and it’s difficult to see how he would improve a Premier League side, even Sunderland’s. Nonetheless, Allardyce will want him around the changing room – even it’s just folding kits or passing around the biscuits.

4) Have you read my book?
The Sunderland vacancy arose at an inconvenient time for Big Sam because he is currently busy promoting his no-holds barred autobiography, My Autobiography. But an operator as canny as Allardyce will not have failed to notice that a new role in the Premier League will be an invaluable promotional tool. The hours he will be granted in press conferences and interviews are worth a thousand appearances on the Graham Norton show. Sunderland fans should expect post-match analysis along the lines of, "If you miss chances like we did today you won’t win football matches, as I’ve said in my autobiography, My Autobiography.”

5) Is there such a thing as ‘the Sunderland way’?
Allardyce will tell anyone within earshot that his tenure at West Ham was a roaring success in terms of results, but he felt undermined throughout his four-year spell in east London by an inscrutable yet all-pervasive force: the West Ham way. Allardyce freely admits he never managed to decipher the meaning of this so-called ‘way’, with all attempts to describe it to him by fans, ex-players and even the chairmen sounding like gobbledegook to his ears. Before signing up at the Stadium of Light, it’s only natural that Allardyce will have double-checked there isn’t also a "Sunderland way” he doesn’t know about.

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