Chutzpah alert: the man who signed Andy Carroll and Kevin Davies thought Manchester United was playing too direct.
“You might just criticize Louis van Gaal for playing long balls as much as you’ve sometimes criticized me for being direct,” Sam Allardyce told reporters after the 1-1 draw at Upton Park that saw Daley Blind grab a stoppage-time equalizer.
“It’s paid off for them, so you can’t knock it in the end,” Allardyce added. The style has definitely paid off for Allardyce during his career, especially at Bolton, where he was successful but gained a reputation for bruising, boring soccer that he’s never been able to shake.
That, and his blunt, unfashionable persona, have probably stopped him from getting serious consideration for bigger jobs, even though it’s not fair to think of him as old-fashioned or parochial. He made shrewd signings of foreign players at Bolton and embraced sports science in the early 2000s before it became truly widespread and accepted in the English game.
As he has wryly said, if he’d been named “Allardici,” maybe he’d have reached greater heights. Harry Redknapp has also said something similar.
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Talk of Allardyce’s glass ceiling, though, deflects from another issue: the statistics show that he is right. The fluent, urgent attacking styles of the Alex Ferguson era already seem a long time ago.
United are resorting to hitting long balls to Marouane Fellaini late in games in an attempt to kick-start their stuttering attack. If that’s going to be your tactic, might as well get David Moyes back in charge.