With the appointment of Sam Allardyce as Everton’s new manager, fans are hoping for some big changes. Can ‘Big Sam’ lead Everton to the Champions League? It could very well be possible. To understand how his leadership can turn Everton around this season, we must examine his history within the game and his personal strategy.
A Proud History and a Controversial Appointment
Allardyce’s appointment couldn’t have come at a better time. The Straits Times reports that the season start under Ronald Koeman (two wins out of 18) was the worst the league experienced in over a decade. Indeed, it did leave Everton in the bottom three, but it also left the door open for a new manager to gain fans’ trust and acceptance that much more quickly.
However, Allardyce arrived at a fan base that seemed hesitant to accept him. In fact, he faced a barrage of negative press upon his appointment, with fans more than vocalizing their views on social media.
Allardyce is well-known for his intrinsic ability to rescue drowning teams from relegation, and the evidence is apparent in his history. He went to Bolton when they were down on their luck, having only won a single game out of seven at the turn of the century season. He managed to lead them to the League Cup Final but left the team still in the running for the UEFA cup.
Allardyce also had success at Sunderland, where he picked up 31 points in 30 games — a monumental difference from the three points that Sunderland previously had in eight games. He was also quick to sign Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone, who did wonders for the team.
Crystal Palace can attribute their escape from the drop zone in the 2016-17 season to Allardyce as well. His snatch of Mamadou Sakho showed initiative and a forward-thinking mindset. Clearly, Big Sam can sniff out a star as evidenced when he signed Youri Djorkaeff to Bolton, as well as Ivan Campo and Jay-Jay Okocha, spurring Bolton to victory time and again. He also managed to sign Steven N’Zonzi to Blackburn for a paltry £500,000, who ended up being quite a key player in defeating Chelsea in the race for the League Cup back in the 2009-10 season.
So, if he’s had so much success, why aren’t fans throwing him a parade right now? It’s clear that Allardyce is seen by both the club and the fans as a cork to plug a leak in a sinking ship. He’s perceived as a short-term solution to a longer-term problem, and that doesn’t sit right with people.
we should be aiming way higher than the likes of Allardyce & co. I respect what Unsy has done in the U23s, but hes not Prem ready
— EFC FanZone (@EFCfanzone) October 15, 2017
Allardyce is a ‘fixer,’ the guy they call to solve a problem. When Everton is back in the black his work will be done. People feel as if Allardyce has no real stock in Everton. They think he’ll apply the same old strategy, the club will pick up and he’ll exit scene — leaving the team to roil in chaos.
They don’t think he merits that £6 million salary, either. People think that for that kind of money they deserve a Mourinho or a Zidane. The fans are divided as well. But as Allardyce leads Everton slowly but surely out of the red, people are beginning to accept him a bit more. NSNO’s Paul Chaloner gives an in-depth explanation of the situation with Allardyce.
Everyone must admit, though, his start has been promising. He could be the hidden royal flush at the poker table.
An Open and Clear Strategy
It’s all about strategy, and Allardyce has been quite public with his. He has outlined his own ‘survival blueprint,’ which consists of seven points.
Allardyce will use these as his bottom line to get Everton off the ground and into the running as he develops the finer points of play. But while important, the survival blueprint is not the whole of Allardyce’s strategy.
As the Telegraph details, Allardyce knows how to put his players in the positions that best fit them. This is a beautiful attribute in its simplicity, but one that has seemed to dupe managers before him — to the point where he was brought in to save many a floundering team. His survival blueprint only works once the players are set where Allardyce wants them.
He uses statistics to enhance players’ style and as a motivation tool, as well as factoring the likely outcome of games and base his strategy on it. He is educated, using his knowledge of sports science to his advantage as well.
Many fans dislike Allardyce for playing what they consider long-ball football. Nobody likes to watch a boring game, or a game played dishonourably, but people may be judging prematurely without considering the facts. They have a problem with Big Sam’s blunt style, saying it lacks the finesse they desire to see from a team like Everton. But Allardyce continues to lay his cards down like the most prudent of poker players, guiding his team to a slow and careful victory.
It takes years to become both a champion manager and a champion poker player, but the difference here is palpable: Allardyce is constantly put through the ringer for his every decision while those winning millions at the poker table are simply patted on the back.
A football match isn’t the same as a game of Texas Hold ‘Em, but the two have a few things in common. In a poker game where you’ve got a lot to lose, it stands to reason that you’d play cautiously. Allardyce’s reputation is on the line, fans have been on the fence about him for years. Of course, he’ll accept playing a bit of long ball to push his team forward and gain more points.
What We’ve Seen So Far of Big Sam’s Operations in Everton
Allardyce employs an exploitative strategy in his football, determining his opponents’ weaknesses and pouncing on them. He is the man at the table with the ultimate English poker face, making simple moves with a nod to safe and straightforward tactics.
Big Sam has put an emphasis on utilizing the attackers that he has in the correct positions for them. He’s defending his own defence, allowing the team to work in tandem once again. The results are undeniable.
Allardyce had maintained an undefeated run in his time at Everton until two weekend losses, including a loss last Saturday to Bournemouth that left many (including Big Sam) disappointed.
Although the loss broke Everton’s undefeated run, it didn’t break Everton’s plans. Instead, fans should be focusing on Allardyce’s plans for the January transfer window, which could arm Everton with the assets it needs to truly shine once again.
We only stand to see them improve, especially with Allardyce’s sharp eyes searching for up-to-date tactics and new players. By examining his team on a personal level, he’s able to place them comfortably and with confidence on the field. This leads to stronger individual players who contribute to a stronger team. This is what Allardyce is putting into play.