You’ve got to hand it to pint-of-wine-guzzling-maniac Sam Allardyce, he did some serious stuff at Bolton Wanderers.
When we look back on the managerial career of Big Sam Allardyce, we don’t think about his botched attempt at the England job, which had a certain Mike Basset tone to it, or the miserable times at Everton, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, West Ham United, and Blackburn Rovers.
No. Not for one single moment. That would be an insult to the great man in fact, and an act of punishable negligence against some of the truly special moments he produced at the Reebok Stadium (yeah, that’s right – the Reebok), home to Bolton Wanderers.
Think about Wolves this season. You were impressed, right? They took it to the big teams and for the most part, played a brand of football that was more pragmatic than pure. Well, they are mere wannabes compared to the Bolton teams under our strategist in question, copycats who only serve as a reminder of how truly special Allardyce was in his prime.
It wasn’t a matter of commanding the most gifted players, nor the most expensive – although Jay-Jay Okocha was quite the coup, at the time. It was purer than that when it came to Big Sam. Rather, it was a tale of absolute commitment; of giving their all for the badge and no less; of wading through the muck to reach their goal at any cost, Shawshank Redemption style.
Honestly, Allardyce really was remarkable at Bolton. And we tend to forget that nowadays because of a constant media bashing about his “archaic” techniques.
In his first full season in charge, the former Wanderer replicated the success he had enjoyed in his playing days and achieved the spectacular by guiding Bolton back into the top flight, seeing off David Moyes’ Preston side in the play-off final.
While some Bolton fans may have been happy with mere survival in the top flight, the idea of setting for less simply wasn’t on Allardyce’s radar. Through the pioneering and rare use of the Prozone system, a state of the art technology that provided a statistical overview of his opposition, he ground away like a student on a 24-hour energy drink fuelled revision binge to ensure that his plucky underdogs had every chance at success.
For seven years he defied all expectations by not only maintaining Bolton’s Premier League status but hoisting them above and beyond, including a shot in Europe and numerous domestic cup runs.
To put it lightly, Bolton are in a bit of a pickle at the moment. And we won’t delve too much into that subject, as we’re absolutely positive most of you don’t want to think about the state your desperate club is in.
But things could be looking up. Sam Allardyce revealed in April that he would consider a return as manager of Bolton Wanderers, but only if (and it’s a big if) someone with “big ambitions” takes control.
We’d honestly love to see this happen. Bolton deserve so much more.
Bolton fans, what are your standout memories of Allardyce? Would you take him back? Let us know in the comments below…
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