My colleague and friend, Neal Thurman (formerly of these pages), had this little nugget buried in his Monday Morning Manager post:
"As much as I appreciate what Big Sam accomplished at Bolton back in the day, it seems like a poor fit of manager and roster. The Black Cats are handing a roster full of attacking midfielder-types to a guy best known for blood-and-guts football."Neal, you're talking about a manager who ran out Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, Stelios Giannakopolis, etc behind (pun intended) the not-inconsiderable backside of Kevin Davies. At West Ham, he converted Stewart Downing from a winger to a (temporarily, at least) surprisingly effective number 10.
Big Sam has a plan, and works that plan to a hard edge. It may not always be pretty, but sometimes it can be.
At Sunderland, he has some talent in the likes of Jermaine Lens, and Yoann M'Villa. He has the target-forward he likes in Steven Fletcher. And while Bruno N'Gotty isn't walking through the door, he's got... well, maybe the less said about Sunderland's defensive options the better.
I'm not saying that Sunderland are poised for a run at the European places, but Allardici is a good manager who has done more with less in the past. I'm fascinated to see what he can do with the Black Cats, starting this weekend against Newcastle, who may have just had their own dead-cat bounce against Norwich.