Everton perfect fit for Allardyce

Cancelling Christmas isn’t an obvious means of ingratiating yourself with a raft of new employees but it appears that Sam Allardyce can do no wrong at Everton where the latest chapter in one of British football’s most intriguing careers has kicked off on the most promising of intros.

Everton perfect fit for Allardyce

It’s all of two weeks since this son of a police sergeant laid down the law. The planned club party was off, he explained, in view of their poor form but the sense of panic enveloping the blue half of Merseyside was already beginning to ease by then with Everton winning two and drawing another of Big Sam’s first three games in charge.

Add in the club’s 4-0 win over West Ham United before his unveiling — he sat in the Goodison Park stands that night with his trademark cheeky chappie smile as wide as Stanley Park — and the six points banked since his Scrooge impression and Allardyce’s reputation for transforming the fortunes of clubs in the mire has only been strengthened.

This latest Midas act comes with the odd asterisk for now.

David Unsworth will likely always be convinced that the upswing would have followed the same trajectory had he been given the job long-term. That thrashing of the Hammers was at the end of his watch after all and Allardyce has profited from a kind fixture list made up of Huddersfield Town, Apollon Limassol, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Swansea City up to now.

The one time they faced a side of real note was the derby when they came away from Anfield with a fortunate point. Chelsea come calling to Goodison Park tomorrow and they kick-off the new year with three games against Manchester United, Liverpool (in the FA Cup), and Tottenham Hotspur. Different gravy.

So, what exactly has he done so far? Allardyce played an unchanged XI first time out against Huddersfield and personnel switches have been relatively few since, especially so in defence, and a conveyor belt of games has limited any meaningful on-the-ground influence in a training ground environment.

The man himself has actually highlighted the role his backroom staff played in all this, praising the “fantastic amount of information” his analysts delivered to players. “It’s not rocket science,” he said. “It’s simplifying and making things easier for players to make decisions to win back confidence, get results and take us forward.”

And there was a reference to “the technology that I use” which hinted at his reputation for embracing innovative, modern thinking and one which has always belied both his perceived style of play and the assumption he is some oik from the West Midlands who should doff his hat at cosmopolitan counterparts from foreign shores.

Nobody has highlighted that so much as him.

“I’m not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Internazionale or Real Madrid,” he said while holding the reins at Ewood Park back in 2010.

This was two years before his claim that he would be a top-four manager if his name was ‘Allardici’.

He reasoned: “It wouldn’t be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because 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. It’s not where I’m suited to, it’s just where I’ve been for most of the time. It’s not a problem to take me into the higher reaches of the Champions League or Premier League and would make my job a lot easier in winning it.”

Allardyce will never get that chance but Everton is the next best thing.

The club is a regular top-10 Premier League finisher, it has spent significantly on new talent during the summer, has some exceptional young players filtering through the ranks and a number of notables to return from injury.

Among the latter category are Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines, and Yannick Bolasie.

It looked as if his shot at the big time had passed Big Sam by when he lost his job as England manager in such odd and inglorious circumstances. But he has always been a survivor. This is a guy who squeezed almost 600 appearances out of a career as a journeyman centre-half and did it by taking himself off to Ireland and the USA when and as required.

Everton’s is the 17th different dressing-room that he can call home after 46 years in professional football. He has improved the fortunes of Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United, Sunderland, and Crystal Palace as a manager but this is both the greatest opportunity and the biggest task afforded him in club football.

“I’ve come into football clubs in trouble before but never turned around results so quickly,” he said before Monday’s 3-1 defeat of Swansea City. “One goal conceded — three wins and a draw — you can’t get much better than that.”

That’s the thing: You can. Everton won’t just settle for the ghost of relegation being banished. It is a club with an almost delusional sense of grandeur. They may well be made for one another.

Email: brendan.obrien@examiner.ie Twitter: @byBrendanOBrien

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