Survival in the Premier League is everything, but even if he is without a shadow of a doubt, the best chance for Crystal Palace to allow them to remain in England top division for a fifth consecutive season, with the imminent appointment of Sam Allardyce to replace Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park is one that will fill many supporters with dread.
It is less than three months after Allardyce was ousted as England manager before he has even named his second team as the result of the Daily Telegraph sting that showed him the negotiation of a fee of £400,000 to represent the foreign firm hoping to profit from the Premier League transfers. Whatever your point of view on this episode – and there are strong arguments to suggest Allardyce had the misfortune to be forced out given not to break all the rules – it was a terrible way to bow out from what the 62-year-old from Dudley, has always described as his dream job.
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Given the suspicion that has surrounded Allardyce since the BBC Panorama investigation in 2006, and the supposed son Craig had taken illegal payments for the transfer of offerings, while employed by the agent Mark Curtis, perhaps he should know better. Allardyce has threatened to sue the BBC, but never did, after that in his autobiography, he was advised it would cost too much money and too long.
Curtis, who first met Allardyce, in 1995, when he signed goalkeeper Steve Banks to Blackpool from Gillingham, remains his friend and agent. He will be instrumental in discussions with the Palace chairman, Steve Parish, when they meet on Friday to iron out the details of his contract at Selhurst Park, though, with Allardyce having sent a detailed dossier to the club’s American investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer for up to six weeks ago, it seems that those negotiations will be little more than a formality.
While there is no doubt about Allardyce coaching capacity, given a track record that includes the taking of Bolton Wanderers in Europe, and the saving of Blackburn and Sunderland from relegation, which will cover the Palace of the fans is the amount of control he the question of a club that has always prided itself on the promotion of local talent. It has been several years since a youth team graduate has forced his way into the senior side due to the increased pressure to avoid relegation at all costs, but the likely appointment of Allardyce has the features of when Tony Pulis was brought in to replace Ian Holloway in November 2013.
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Pulis famously led Palace to safety before smoking cessation less than 48 hours before the start of the next season – a decision that ended in the high court after Pulis was paid £2m bonus early. He was forced to repay almost double, were found to have misled a Premier League tribunal. It will be the Parish to ensure that there is no repeat of that episode, while keeping a lid on a personality as big as Allardyce will be no easy feat.
The story of Ravel Morrison should also act as a cautionary tale. The ex-Manchester United and the young man accused Allardyce of the pressure on him to sign with Curtis as his agent, while at West Ham – an accusation that Allardyce described as “nonsense”. The former player and now BBC expert Kevin Kilbane has also claimed to have been subjected to the same pressure from Allardyce and Curtis nearly 20 years before, also participate in the next meeting with his brother Farrell “to provide a bit of muscle,” in the case in which the refusal did not go down too well.
But, at the Parish level, admitting to “wind the dial back the other way”, after Pardew introduction of a wider style of football is not successful, it seems that there is only one man for the job. For those who value results above all else, Allardyce fits the bill perfectly.