Sam Allardyce’s latest comments in the media suggesting he’s the most sophisticated manager in the Premier League are perhaps a shrewd tactic going into the business end of the season.
Whether the 60-year-old was making a subtle plea to the West Ham board for a new contract or simply being his normal, assured self, no-one knows.
My interpretation of it, though, was that by saying these comments he’s taking the limelight away from his players while at the same time installing their belief in him to lead them to success.
"I don't think there is any coach more sophisticated than me any more," said Allardyce on the BBC. "That's not trying to criticise any other coaches.
"But there is only Arsene Wenger who has done it longer than me. I'm just as good as everybody at this stage."
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This honesty or arrogance, whichever you want to call it, is a trait associated with some of the best managers in the game. Jose Mourinho is a prime example of someone who was never afraid to trump his own horn and the ‘Special One’ may be hated for it but it could well be a psychological key to his managerial success.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was similar in this respect and often took headlines with his comments and views which deflected attention off of his team and struck fear into others.
Louis van Gaal looks to have this about him, too, as he proved with his tactics dossier in response to Allardyce’s jibe of ‘long-ball United’ after the recent draw with the Hammers. Now everyone is talking about Van Gaal, calling him crazy or this or that, but the media are no longer criticising his team.
Allardyce certainly has something about him reminiscent of these top managers and his players believe in him because of it.
His Premier League record is neither good nor bad, in 423 matches he’s guided his teams to 146 wins, 116 draws and 161 defeats.
Allardyce has always been confident of his abilities, though, and while manager of Blackburn in 2010 stated how he could win the league every time if he was managing Man United or Chelsea.
“I would be more suited to Inter Milan or Real Madrid. It wouldn't be a problem for me to manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time.”
Allardyce added: “Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same, it wouldn't be a problem.”
He has never been given a chance at a title-challenging outfit and has always had to work with limited funds yet he has remained managing in England’s top flight for the best part of 14 years.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Allardyce is up there with the Mourinho’s or Ferguson’s, but he is a much smarter manager than he is given credit for.
At face value his demeanour and comments may seem insignificant or just plain arrogant but the fact is, with better players, he is leading West Ham into uncharted territory - they currently sit in eighth place and are still in with a strong chance of achieving a European qualification place.
The Hammers are going places in the next few years with their stadium move on the horizon and Allardyce is the right man to lead them on to greater things, so the sooner he’s handed a new contract the better.
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