The Trouble With… Sam Allardyce


While watching ITV’s decidedly average coverage of the FA Cup tie between Preston and Liverpool, Sam Allardyce mentioned how it’s harder for young English players to break through (with reference to Neil Mellor) as clubs are filling their academies with foreigners. He cited Arsene Wenger as a prime exponent. Now whilst I’ll be the first to admit that Wenger has signed/poached/found down the back of the sofa many a youngster from abroad, the implication seemed to be that *yawn* he doesn’t give English players a chance. There is plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.

My opinion matters

My opinion matters


1. Current Ex-Arsenal youth players in the Premier League.

Ashley Cole/Chelsea

Jermaine Pennant/Liverpool

Steven Sidwell/Aston Villa

Fabrice Muamba/Bolton

Justin Hoyte/Middlesbrough

David Bentley/Tottenham

Stuart Taylor/Aston Villa

Matthew Upson/West Ham


All English and all given chances by Wenger, but for various reasons never made the grade. Obviously some were signed at from other clubs at 16/17 but it’s fair to say their main education came at Arsenal. Add to this several players like James Harper in the Championship (Mellor’s current level) and you have lots of guys who simply had better players ahead of them at the time.


Ok, so just hoof it up there. No wait that's not right...

Ok, so just hoof it up there. No wait that's not right...

2.  Current English players at Arsenal (who’ve played this season).

Theo Walcott

Jack Wilshere

Gavin Hoyte

Henri Lansbury

Jay Simpson

Kieran Gibbs

Mark Randall

Kerrea Gilbert


Many of those have received their opportunities in the Carling Cup but about half have played in the league or Europe. It’s unclear who will make it beyond Walcott and Wilshere but it again shows that if good enough you are given a chance.


3. The standard at the Big Four clubs is higher.

Big Sam can moan all he want but ultimately it will always be tougher to make it at the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal than Bolton and Blackburn. Wenger and Benitex didn’t get where they are by worrying about nationality, it is always about quality. Their job is to worry about how their club is doing, not England. It is not unfair to say that give the size and number of players, England have underachieved internationally. Could it possibly be because many players just aren’t that good? Allardyce is also a bit of a hypocrite in this whole issue as he has also been quite happy to play 11 foreign players in his Bolton team rather than give an English youngster a shot. It seems he does realise the same thing as the top boys.

Hey, Rafa why is Big Sam picking on me?

Hey, Rafa why is Big Sam picking on me?


4. Allardyce and Wenger don’t particularly like each other.

This point is on a slight tangent, but Allardyce and Wenger have never been the best of friends. Wenger never liked the fact Bolton would beat Arsenal playing physical, direct football while Allardyce felt he didn’t get the credit he deserved. There has been many a bitchy comment in the past and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a another small dig.


In conclusion, Allardyce fires another cheap shot that fits in perfectly with the lazy journalism of ITV. Wenger has perhaps bought/played foreigners ahead of English players in the past but it is unfair to say he never gave chances. Also, why should he persist with someone who breaks curfews, punches people and drink drives and lies about who he is (step forward Mr Pennant) just because he is English? In a word Big Sam, shut it.

Ultimate pro

Ultimate pro




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