John Giles: Sam's big mouth takes the biscuit
WHEN the English FA announced a few weeks back that the next manager of their national team would be an Englishman, they brought the day one step closer when Mike Bassett will take over from Fabio Capello.
Of all the stupid things I've seen in football, that one is right up there at the top and, as a result of what was a premature and foolish statement of intent, it leaves men such as Sam Allardyce in a position to assault our ears with nonsense for the next two years.
Who knows how Capello will perform in the next few years. England might even surprise us all and win the European Championships in 2012.
But the brains’ trust in the English FA has decided that an Englishman will be his successor, regardless of the quality available at the appropriate time.
The past week has seen Allardyce explain why he could be the manager of England, Real Madrid and Barcelona rolled into one, and yesterday he recanted and told us that his comments were tongue-in-cheek.
That makes Allardyce a bit of a contortionist in my eyes. It can't be easy to have his tongue in his cheek and a hand patting himself on the back while simultaneously talking through his backside.
It's been a week to forget in the ever-increasing soap opera that Premier League managers have been sucked into and Allardyce, as ever, takes the biscuit.
He told us that he would win the Double every year if he was let loose on a big club – and I have no doubt that he believes it.
But I would remind Allardyce that his closest brush with the big time at Newcastle ended in chaos.
Contrast that with Chris Hughton who minds his own business and says very little but has turned the Toon into a competitive club again with half the squad Big Sam had when he was at St James' Park.
Next up in the ‘foot-in-mouth' chart is none other than Rafa Benitez, who told us that he was very frustrated when he was at Anfield because the people at the top didn't know anything about football.
Cynics out there might suggest that Benitez was in good company but they should remember the Spaniard in the days before he lost the plot and maintained his dignity and even won a few trophies.
Unfortunately, his move to Italy hasn't silenced him. Nor has it diluted the hypocrisy.
Not so long ago, Benitez told Jose Mourinho to keep his nose out of Inter Milan's business when the Portuguese selfpublicist suggested that he had left behind a squad which would keep winning and helped himself to some advance credit.
Now, Benitez is doing exactly what he told Mourinho not to do by talking about another club.
His time at Anfield is over, for good or ill, and he cannot change history. His best course of action would be to button his lip and concentrate on his current job.
Another man who is never shy about claiming collateral credit is also back in the news. Gerard Houllier tried to grab some of Bentiez's glory in Istanbul when he marched into the dressing room after Liverpool's Champions League win and afterwards expressed delight that all but two of the players in the team were bought by him.
We'll see how he gets on at Villa Park but I note that he is already talking about the time he will need to implement his philosophy.
At a club as big as Villa, time is in short supply. I've left Arsene Wenger until last. He has accepted a charge of improper conduct after he patted Martin Atkinson, the fourth official, on the back at the end of the 1-1 draw with Sunderland.
Wenger's argument after his players threw away two points by allowing a late equaliser was that the game had strayed over the four minutes of added time Atkinson indicated when the 90 was up.
Sometimes, I really do despair. Does Wenger not understand the rules of the game? Allardyce acts the fool because it gets him headlines and he's committed to self-promotion.
But Wenger gets as many headlines for behaving like a child would in a schoolyard. I accept that managers are under more pressure than ever before to come up with sound bites but he goes far too often and only makes himself look petulant.
It's something I now detest. Managers talk too much and say very little while the real achievers don't need to pat themselves on the back.
Carlo Ancelotti does his job well and actually wins Doubles. He doesn't need to pat himself on the back. Unlike Allardyce, there are plenty of hands out there queuing up to slap it for him.