Sam Allardyce saga casts shadow over Premier League action
Premier League chiefs will hope attention returns to on-field matters this weekend after an uncomfortable few days in the spotlight for English football.
Sam Allardyce’s one-game career as England manager came to a shock end after just 67 days on Tuesday following controversial comments made to undercover reporters, which continued Thursday with Southampton assistant manager Eric Black filmed offering alleged advice on giving bribes to officials at other clubs.
Allardyce, 61, was also secretly filmed giving advice on how to circumnavigate transfer rules and mocking England predecessor Roy Hodgson.
Appointed England manager on a £3 million-a-year contract ($3.9 million), Allardyce also agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador for their fictitious firm for a fee of £400,000.
England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate has been placed in caretaker charge for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, but, with the Football Association still to appoint a permanent replacement, a succession of Premier League managers have found themselves being asked if they would like a shot at the England job.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, one of English football’s rising managerial stars, ruled himself out of replacing Allardyce — for the time being.
“I think I have said in many interviews that the England job is the ultimate job….It sounds arrogant but I am not interested in the (England) job now, but you never know what will happen in the future,” said Howe.
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, who played alongside Southgate for the south London club, has also been linked to the England job.
But he insisted he was happy at Selhurst Park after leading the south London club to three straight wins.
“Eddie Howe said it was the pinnacle for any Englishman’s career, I agree with that,” said Pardew ahead of Friday’s match away to Everton.
“I’m so lucky to have this football club where it is right now…This football club at this time is where I want to be.”
Veteran Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, long spoken of as a possible England manager, is out of contract with the Gunners at the end of the season.
“I’ve said many times that my priority has always been Arsenal Football Club and I have to assess how well I do until the end of the season,” said the Frenchman, looking to build on his side’s 3-0 win over Chelsea away to Burnley on Sunday.
Manchester City will look to return to winning ways at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after a midweek 3-3 draw away to Scottish giants Celtic ended their perfect record under manager Pep Guardiola.
“We’re going to recover well, to focus on White Hart Lane,” Guardiola said.
Southampton, fresh from a 3-0 win over West Ham, travel to Leicester City, with the Premier League champions beating Porto 1-0 in the Champions League following a 4-1 defeat by Manchester United.
Liverpool, who thrashed Hull 5-1 last week, are away to Swansea while bottom of the table Sunderland will seek a first league win of the season at West Brom.
United, for whom Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in a 1-0 home win over Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on Thursday, face struggling Stoke at Old Trafford on Sunday.
FIXTURES (5pm unless stated)
Friday: Everton v Crystal Palace (10pm)
Saturday: Hull v Chelsea, Sunderland v West Brom, Swansea v Liverpool (2.30pm), Watford v Bournemouth, West Ham v Middlesbrough
Sunday: Burnley v Arsenal (6.30pm), Leicester v Southampton (4.15pm ), Man Utd v Stoke (2pm), Tottenham v Man City (4.15pm).