Sam Allardyce finally landed his dream job as England manager and declared: “It is time for us to deliver.”
The 61-year-old lost out to Steve McClaren when he first applied for the role 10 years ago but will now take charge of the 2018 World Cup campaign after signing an initial two-year deal to replace Roy Hodgson.
The Football Association’s three-man selection panel, consisting of chief executive Martin Glenn, technical director Dan Ashworth and acting chairman David Gill, interviewed then Sunderland boss Allardyce last week and nominated him as the preferred candidate at a Wembley board meeting on Thursday.
With personal terms no stumbling block, the only issue was a compensation package for the Black Cats.
Now the real hard work begins for Allardyce, whose first job in management came at Limerick.
The Three Lions departed France at a low ebb, with Hodgson’s high hopes reduced to dust as the country’s major tournament travails recurred with a last-16 defeat by underdogs Iceland.
Allardyce, who rescued Sunderland from a seemingly hopeless position when he arrived on a fire-fighting mission last season, has outlined his positivity for both the challenge and the tools at his disposal.
“I am extremely honoured to be appointed England manager especially as it is no secret that this is the role I have always wanted. For me, it is absolutely the best job in English football,” he said.
“I will do everything I can to help England do well and give our nation the success our fans deserve. Above all, we have to make the people and the whole country proud.
“I know we have talented, committed players and it is time for us to deliver.”
In their search for Hodgson’s successor, Glenn, Gill and Ashworth also interviewed Steve Bruce, and considered Eddie Howe and Jurgen Klinsmann.
In confirming the appointment, the FA made what seemed an early rebuttal to Allardyce’s detractors, noting that he “arrives with a proven track record of getting the best results out of the teams he has managed and a strong reputation as a forward-thinker with progressive ideas”.
West Ham fans, in particular, were less than enamoured about his brand of football during his stay between 2011 and 2015, but he has frequently argued that his tactics have always been dictated by the resources available and he has managed a number of flair players over his career.
Glenn, who headed up the head-hunting process, said: “Sam Allardyce is the right man for the England job.
“His excellent managerial credentials, including his ability to realise the potential of players and teams, develop a strong team ethos and embrace modern methods that enhance performance, made him the outstanding choice.”
The former Bolton, West Ham and Newcastle boss will select his first squad towards the end of August, with a Wembley friendly against unnamed opponents on September 1 and the opening World Cup qualifier in Slovakia three days later.
Allardyce leaves Sunderland at a tricky time, so close to the new Premier League season, but they may not have had a top-flight campaign to look forward to had it not been for him.
Nonetheless, their parting words were notable for coming without the usual thanks and best wishes that clubs typically afford to departing bosses.
“Sunderland AFC confirms the departure of Sam Allardyce, who takes up the position of England manager with immediate effect,” said a club statement.
“The focus of everyone at Sunderland AFC now is on moving forward quickly and decisively, with the appointment of the club’s new manager to be confirmed at the earliest opportunity.”
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