Allardyce 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.
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.
– Stuck in a rut –
After his side’s lacklustre defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte could do without another setback at Hull as he tries to revitalise a team stuck in a rut since last season.
The Blues’ miserable defence of the Premier League title cost Jose Mourinho his job last term and, while it’s far too soon for Conte to fear the axe after his close-season appointment, he knows demanding owner Roman Abramovich doesn’t take kindly to prolonged spells of poor form.
Conte, whose cause isn’t helped by the ankle injury that continues to sideline captain John Terry, said: “I’m lucky because Mr Abramovich is very passionate about football.
“To talk with him about football is very interesting. To discuss and explain my idea of football.
“We haven’t got a magic wand to change the situation in two months, three months, four months.
“We don’t forget the past. The past is there, it’s very clear. We finished in 10th place last season.
“When you finish 10th, it means you have problems. We must change the situation and we must work hard together and we are doing this.”
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 home to 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.