Big Sam undone by big ego and greed
Imagine you are a businessman and I am a newspaper editor.
You want me to give a talk (four, in fact) on media ownership, advising how you can own stakes in various media outlets, benefiting from interrelated deals, circumnavigating the rules and keeping a low profile. On top of that, I will be paid handsomely for offering up this morally bankrupt advice. Cynics might even call it a “finder’s fee” (Commission of Inquiry COPYRIGHT SIGN).
Pretty dodgy, right? Sound familiar? Try putting it in a football context? There you go. If it doesn’t ring any bells, you’ve probably buried your head in pink sand this week, which is what Sam Allardyce wish he’d done rather than let his ego and greed get the better of him.
The Premier League cash cow has moved on at such a speed that international football is second-tier fare these days.
But, for many of us, the position of England football manager still retains enough prestige and importance to demand the highest standards on and off the pitch. Big Sam has proved a big failure in record time.
11am kick offs unless stated
Everton v Crystal Palace
Everton have four wins in five, while Palace have won their past three games, making these teams two of the most in-form in the league. Yannick Bolasie goes up against his former club after his big-money move but Palace have a good record at Goodison.
Swansea City v Liverpool
Liverpool are looking good right now and look ripe to pile the misery on under-fire manager Francesco Guidolin.
Hopefully he’ll have got hold of a tape of Jürgen Klopp’s Sky Sports pundit masterclass to work out how to counter the counter-press ... or something. Away win.
Hull City v Chelsea
The wheels have not quite come off but have been significantly loosened after two chastening league defeats. From a fantasy point of view, they’ve been a disaster.
Hull, despite their fine start, are still piecing things together in terms of personnel, including their manager who has yet to sign a contract.
Sunderland v WBA
What do you need when you are struggling, trying to get substandard players to gel, fighting years of underachievement? Yes, that’s right, a manager who tells you just how **** you are.
David Moyes is proving as inspirational as a day out in ... er ... Sunderland.
Watford v Bournemouth
Watford turned in their worst performance of the season against Burnley and will have to up their game. Bournemouth are unbeaten in their past five matches against Watford but three of those have finished 1-1. Two evenly matched sides. Jack Wilshere is getting fitter and Eddie Howe will fancy his chances after the excellent win over Everton.
West Ham United v Middlesbrough
Having watched every minute of the Hammers’ horrible performance at home to Southampton, there are clear issues, not least in defence.
Boro are finding out how hard this league is now but their squad is decent and morale should still be high unlike that of West Ham fans in their cavernous new ground.
Manchester United v Stoke
Stoke have not won at Old Trafford since 1976 and under-fire Mark Hughes faces an uphill battle here. The dropping of Wayne Rooney seems to have cleared the tactical mist for United and they will be overwhelming favourites.
Leicester City v Southampton
A superb win for Leicester in midweek but the champions are struggling to juggle all their obligations. They take on a Southampton side who have found form after two straight league wins. Should be a close one.
Tottenham v Manchester City
The headline game if the top of the table is your thing. Tottenham, very impressive in second gear so far, should be given a proper test of their title credentials by high-flying City.
Raheem Stirling is on fire but then so is Heung-Min Son. Spurs won’t fall apart like Manchester United did. Thrilling draw.
Burnley v Arsenal
Burnley have conceded just five in 17 home games and they perhaps deserve more respect than this column has previously dished out.
That said, Arsenal are playing great football right now. Even Theo Walcott looks good.