Despite being throttled by Chelsea to the tune of a 5-1 scoreline last Saturday, Bolton manager Sam Allardyce says there were extenuating circumstances. The Independent’s James Lawton , however, isn’t buying it.
Wait a minute, you thought, this can’t be true but of course it was, because it was Premiership football and it was big Sam Allardyce (above), bold as brass and the champion of so many of those who believe that when Sven Goran Eriksson goes the next England coach must be a straight-shooting, no-nonsense Englishman. Someone like big, “tell-it-as-it-is” Sam.
Tell-it-as-it-is? No, that’s not quite right. Sam doesn’t tell it how it is. He tells it how it suits him. This scarcely makes him unique in the top flight of football, but he is supposed to be different. It is one reason why he commands more column inches than some men who won cupboards full of silverware.
Once again he was quoted all over the place yesterday in the wake of his Bolton side’s 5-1 hammering at Stamford Bridge. Had Bolton hung on to their one goal lead, and several wing formations of pigs flown above the King’s Road, we would no doubt have heard the old refrain that if his surname was Allardicci rather than Allardyce he would probably be installed at Tottenham or even Chelsea.
As it was, Allardyce was described as “furious” that Michael Essien dived to the ground, suggesting he had seriously injured himself, while carving into a Bolton player. “He was very, very clever,” said the Bolton manager, “by going down as if he was injured himself. He knew it was a bad tackle. We all knew apart from the referee, unfortunately. He booked him and he knows he should have red-carded him.”
Standard Premiership self-serving advocacy, you might say, but then throw your mind back to last season and a scene that still makes the stomach churn.
Bolton’s El Hadji Diouf dived outrageously for a penalty, converted it and was cheered rapturously by the Reebok Stadium. How statesmanlike was Big Sam’s reaction? Did he shake his head that the name of his own proud club been sucked into the epidemic of cheating? No, quite the opposite. He shook hands with the culprit and then, when chided later, declared that he would start chastising his players for cheating only when other Premiership managers reacted critically to similar incidents involving their own players