The chances of Sam Allardyce becoming the next England manager have been enhanced by his willingness to help the Football Association to mentor a young assistant who would be groomed as his successor.
The FA is keen to talk to both Allardyce, who left Sunderland’s training camp in Austria on Monday night, and Jürgen Klinsmann, the USA coach, about the vacancy created following Roy Hodgson’s resignation, but have been encouraged by the 61‑year‑old’s apparent enthusiasm for helping them to polish the next in line. Sunderland insisted that Allardyce’s early departure concerned ongoing discussions over potential transfers, with one source stating it was “business as usual”.
The club had earlier remained resolutely silent in the face of mounting speculation on Monday.
While formal contact between manager, club and the FA is still to be established, Allardyce has made no secret of his desire to coach his country and was desperately disappointed to lose out to Steve McClaren when the pair competed for the post a decade ago.
After performing wonders to rescue Sunderland from relegation last season, a manager who has one year remaining on his contract at the Stadium of Light knows his stock is high. While suggestions that his Wearside deal includes an escape clause designed to facilitate an easy exit should England come calling have been dismissed by club sources, the relative brevity of his current agreement indicates that compensation would not be an insurmountable issue for the FA.
Although Allardyce enjoys a good relationship with Ellis Short, Sunderland’s American owner, he seems deeply frustrated by the club’s failure to make a single signing so far this summer.
It appeared Martin Bain, Sunderland’s new chief executive who began work on 1 July after arriving from Maccabi Tel Aviv, had made a breakthrough last week when Davide Santon seemed to be on the brink of joining from Internazionale only for negotiations to break down at the last moment.
“We want to improve the squad with two, three or four players as quickly as we can,” Allardyce told Sunderland’s website. “We’re trying to work in the market shrewdly and to get the best value for money we possibly can. Hopefully the fans will be a little bit patient but I have to admit myself that my patience is wearing thin – very, very thin indeed.”
Allardyce, anxious to sign the West Ham United striker Diafra Sakho, is understood to be angry about the failure to solve a problem position at left-back by signing Santon and described the £3m move’s collapse as “a huge disappointment”.
If such travails should encourage Martin Glenn, Dan Ashworth and David Gill – the FA’s chief executive, technical director and vice-chairman respectively – in their pursuit of Allardyce they will be more interested in his consistent championing of young English coaches over the years. Even so, the FA continues to talk to a number of potential candidates and interested parties which are likely to include Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Steve Bruce. Although they are still to make contact with either Hull’s manager or his club Bruce - currently at a pre-season training camp in Portugal - was delighted to be mentioned in dispatches.
“It’s highly flattering and, whether or not it goes any further than that, I’m honoured to be linked with it,” he said. “It’s the pinnacle isn’t it? To manage your country, there’s no bigger job. It’s all speculation but there’s a lot of people who have written nice things and I’m grateful for that.”
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