Big Sam is back
Three months after losing his dream job as England manager, Sam Allardyce was back in football yesterday and facing a familiar task: keeping a struggling team in the Premier League.
Allardyce was hired as the manager of London team Crystal Palace, which fired Alan Pardew on Thursday with the club lying in 17th place in the 20-team standings.
The 62-year-old Allardyce will look to rebuild a reputation that was damaged by an ill-fated 67-day spell with England's national team, which ended in humiliating fashion in September when he was forced out because of unguarded comments he made to undercover reporters posing as businessmen.
He has never been relegated from the Premier League as a manager - a record that will have attracted Palace as the club looks to halt its downward momentum and stay in the most lucrative league in Europe. Palace has been the worst-performing team across all four leagues of English football in 2016.
"We are delighted to be able to make an appointment so quickly," Palace chairman Steve Parish said, "and fortunate that someone of Sam's calibre and experience was available."
Palace's hierarchy has reportedly been in contact with Allardyce for weeks. In his last firefighting role in the Premier League, he joined Sunderland in October 2015 when the team was next-to-last in the league and preserved its place in the top flight.
He has established Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham as Premier League teams during his 25 years in management.
Palace became an expansive, attacking team under Pardew, who was backed in the transfer market by the club's board that is fronted by Parish and has also contained American businessmen David Blitzer and Josh Harris since they became co-owners in December 2015.
However, defensive problems plagued Pardew's side - especially at set pieces - and Parish said Thursday: "Now we're going to wind the dial back the other way."
With Allardyce known for his pragmatic approach, he fits the bill.
He will take training today and his first game in charge is away to Watford on Monday, the first of three games in nine days for Palace over the festive period.