London - Sam Allardyce looks to be in pole position to
become the next England manager after his club Sunderland revealed Wednesday
they granted at his request permission to speak to the Football Association.
The 61-year-old Englishman, who was interviewed for the
England job 10 years ago but lost out to Steve McClaren, spoke with the
three-man FA panel on Tuesday about succeeding Roy Hodgson, who resigned after
England were beaten by Iceland in the Euro 2016 last-16 clash.
Sunderland, who Allardyce saved from relegation last term,
made clear they wished the situation to be resolved as quickly as possible so
they can prepare for another tough campaign in the Premier League.
"The Football Association contacted Sunderland AFC to
seek permission to speak with our manager as part of what was supposed to be a
confidential discussion process with potential candidates for the position of
England manager," read a statement from Sunderland.
"At Sam Allardyce's request, we agreed to this.
"Sam is very much key to our plans. After what was an
extremely challenging season, we are keen to see a period of stability, both on
and off the field, and we want him to remain as manager of our football club.
"The ongoing speculation over Sam's position is
extremely damaging to Sunderland AFC, particularly at this crucial time of the
season and we urge the FA to respect the disruption that this process is
causing and bring about a swift resolution to the matter."
Also read: Sunderland take N'Doye on loan for rest of season
Allardyce, who apart from an Irish championship with
Limerick City in 1992 has never won a major domestic trophy, is one of several
names who have been linked with one of the trickiest jobs in the sport.
A fellow former no-nonsense central defender Steve Bruce,
now manager of Hull, Arsenal's veteran handler Arsene Wenger, the United
States' German coach Jurgen Klinsmann and young Englishman Eddie Howe, who has
impressed at Bournemouth, have all figured in talk about the job.
Allardyce, though, is the odds on favourite with English
bookmaker William Hill for, despite not winning anything significant in his
managerial career with among others Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham,
he generally engenders respect and is seen as a great motivator of players.
His remarks of 10 years ago which fell on stoney ground that
England was heading into an 'abyss' may have been ignored by the FA then, but
resonate now after successive failures at major championships.
Since Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson guided England to the 2006
World Cup quarter-finals, losing to Portugal on penalties, they have either
failed to qualify for a championships -- Euro 2008 which cost McClaren his job
-- or failed to get past the first knockout stage in the subsequent two Euros
and two World Cups under the autocratic Fabio Capello and then Hodgson.
Allardyce's remark after he lost out to McClaren sounds even
more propitious: "The problem isn't now, the problem is in the
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