SAM ALLARDYCE finally landed his dream job as England manager yesterday and said: “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 Allardyce will take charge of the 2018 World Cup campaign after signing an initial two-year deal to replace Roy Hodgson, who resigned after the humbling exit from Euro 2016.
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, whose eagerness to receive a sizeable pay-off saw negotiations linger and delayed the announcement until almost 4pm yesterday, after which a graphic proclaiming ‘Sam Allardyce – New England Manager’ adorned the side of the national stadium.
But the hard work has really just begun.
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,” he said.
“For me, it is absolutely the best job in English football.
“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.
“While my main focus will be on the senior team and getting positive results, I want to add my influence to the great work being done across the development teams at St George’s Park – a facility I have used with my previous clubs.
“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, who left his job with Hull City yesterday, 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 has managed a number of maverick, 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.
“That was underlined when we sat down to talk and we could not help but be energised by his personal perspective on England’s future and how it complemented the extensive work that we are looking to build on at St George’s Park.
“Dan Ashworth, David Gill and I have carried out a thorough process in the last three weeks and ultimately we could not look beyond Sam as the ideal candidate.”
Although Allardyce’s deal only extends to the end of the 2018 World Cup, there is a clear appetite within the FA to make it a longer relationship.
He is being encouraged not only to focus on reversing the fortunes of the senior side, but leave his hallmark on the fabric of the national set-up.
The FA statement continued: “Alongside his primary target of qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Allardyce has a mandate to shape a strong, purposeful team identity and maximise the performance potential of a young, talented England squad at a major tournament.
“Allardyce is also charged with helping Ashworth integrate and strengthen the FA’s elite performance and coaching programme across the England senior and development teams at St George’s Park.”
The former Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United and Newcastle United 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.”
Allardyce, meanwhile, will face the media at St George’s Park on Monday.