Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Silly old Sam


I have little to say about last night’s Premier League action which you may or may not have had an eye on. I did not. I’m open to the idea that football is unpredictable and anything can happen in a particular game, but I’m also very aware those mad things occur very rarely.

A few weeks back now, a mad thing happened in a Man City game when they played Nottingham Forest away from home. They had 23 attempts on goal to Forest’s 4, Erling Haaland missed a couple of sitters from positions your granny could probably have scored from, and a late goal nicked a point for the home side. That was the anything can happen game. It won’t happen again. They will steamroller their way through the final games, winning every single one, and that will be that, so I had no interest in putting myself through any nonsense with West Ham last night.

There’s been a lot of chat about Sam Allardyce turning up at Leeds, the new manager bounce and all that. His first game in charge? City away. Pep could play Haaland in goal and they’d win it about 17-0. Have you seen Leeds lately? They are to defending what something that can’t defend is also to defending. They are Leeds, I guess. Even the master tactician Samuel Allardici will find it a struggle to get this team to look cohesive.

Speaking of which, I did enjoy his comments when talking to the media after his appointment yesterday:

“I may be 68 and look old but there’s nobody ahead of me in football terms. Not Pep, not Klopp, not Arteta. It’s all there with me, and I shared it with them. They do what they do. I do what I do. But in terms of knowledge, and depth of knowledge, I’m up there with them.

“I’m not saying I’m better than them but certainly as good as they are. I just wish that sometimes you can get the opportunity that you can show it.”

With a straight face and all. I do remember talking to Rory Smith about his book ‘Expected Goals’, which isn’t just about xG but the rise of data in football, and Allardyce was quite a forward thinking guy in that regard. I don’t know exactly how he used it, perhaps he figured out a way to quantify the amount of long balls his Bolton side could smash towards the big man up top whose elbows were thrust into the face of opposing defenders (xE), but he was there in the infancy of stats and data and all that.

It’s interesting to hear him talk about not getting the opportunities though. He was manager of Newcastle for a time, a big club. He was manager of Everton, a big club. West Ham, a big club. Ok, not the creme de la creme of the Premier League, but not insubstantial outfits either. Oh, and England. He was given the top international job that his country has, but lasted one game because of a newspaper sting.

The Daily Telegraph published footage filmed by undercover reporters in which then England manager Sam Allardyce is shown speaking with fictitious Asian businessmen, detailing how to get around FIFA and Football Association bans on third-party ownership of football players, before making derogatory comments about former England assistant manager Gary Neville and previous England manager Roy Hodgson.

On the one hand, he was silly to get caught up in something like that, but on the other he did make derogatory remarks about Gary Neville, so the two things kinda balance themselves out in my opinion*. I just have a feeling that because football is such a relatively small industry, and you see the same faces popping up in new places over and again in managerial roles, if there was a sense that Allardyce was on the level of the people he mentioned, he’d probably have had a more illustrious career than the one which has seen him parachuted out of retirement and into Elland Road as a desperate Hail Mary from a football club which appears to have gone completely insane this season.

Maybe that’s just me though.

Elsewhere, we had a question on yesterday’s Arsecast Extra as to why Granit Xhaka was wearing a jacket with the initials TGB on it. There was speculation that this was him throwing subtle shade at our neighbours, a reference to the ‘Tottenham Get Battered’ song that has been sung lustily this season as they, well, got battered everywhere they went.

Sadly, the reason is more prosaic. It belonged to a member of the backroom staff, Tom Geeson-Brown who is now the most famous nutritionist on the planet. Did Xhaka spot the connection though and wear it on Sky deliberately? Perhaps we’ll never know, but I like to think that yes, yes he did.

If he pops up in future wearing the jacket of Tim Adams-Collins, or Paul Inglewood-Bailey, we’ll know he’s got his finger well and truly on the pulse.

Right, let’s leave it there for now. Have a great day, folks.

*This is hard and fast rule of life, and should be applicable in courtrooms up and down the land.

Judge: You sir, have committed crimes of an unconscionable nature. You have harmed the very fabric of society itself. However, you did call Gary Neville a ‘busy twat with the facial hair of a mange-ridden otter’, so on that basis you are free to go.

Criminal: Thanks your honour. He really is a twat, isn’t he?

Judge: LOL, yeah.

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