Around this time last season, before Sunderland and their increasingly precarious quest for Premier League survival eventually came a’ calling, Sam Allardyce seemingly portrayed a somewhat thwarted figure among the Upton Park dug-out – almost reluctantly watching over a West Ham United outfit that seemed less and less in need of his famed managerial services with every passing week.
Big Sam nonetheless came up against his former employers with the Black Cats this weekend, and although his determined Sunderland side certainly gave the Hammers a significant run for their money last time out, Allardyce once again left the stadium empty handed with a great deal of work to do between now and the end of the current campaign.
So then, as the impending threat of relegation remains very real for Sunderland fans right in the here and now of course, does Sam Allardyce still represent the right man for the job down at the Stadium of Light in 2015/16?
Well, even though the former Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn – and now West Ham boss – has never been relegated from the English top-flight in notorious fashion so far, such a notion arguably doesn’t mean a great deal for Black Cats supporters currently sweating over their chances of watching Sunderland successfully operating among the Premier League next season.
This is potentially the weakest set of players Sam Allardyce has ever had the pleasure of working with in recent years, which may prove somewhat telling come the final culmination of the 2015/16 campaign. Without wanting to cast the club aside without due consideration this term, the Black Cats simply need to experience a massive turnaround in fortunes out on the pitch sooner rather than later, or risk being forgotten about for good when push invairably comes to shove.
Yes, most of the Sunderland players have shown a great deal in terms of sheer determination and fight for large portions of the 2015/16 campaign thus far – but will that be enough to keep Big Sam’s side up in the absence of raw technical skill and the ability to break open opposing defences at will? Arguably not…
But whilst the Stadium of Light faithful may indeed be forced to come to terms with the prospect of watching their beloved side playing within the second tier of English football next season, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Sunderland should automatically part ways with Sam Allardyce on the back of such an unmistakable step in the wrong direction.
Although no fan wants to see their side painfully removed from the English top-flight, the Black Cats seemingly look somewhat destined for the drop on the back of their consistent presence in and around the relegation zone over the last few seasons. Perhaps Sunderland may even require a temporary drop down to the Championship, in order to stop their club from becoming increasingly stagnant and dangerously boring in the long run.
The Stadium of Light faithful would obviously find themselves rather satisfied with guaranteed Premier League survival this term of course – but should their side eventually fall victim to the drop come the close of the current season – Big Sam would nonetheless represent the ideal man to help Sunderland successfully reclaim a place among the Premier League at the first time of asking.
This is a team that could easily turn themselves into a much stronger outfit under Big Sam just a few short years down the line from now – and as Allardyce certainly left West Ham United in a much improved position after four relatively impressive seasons down at Upton Park – the Black Cats will never likely fall into crisis with 61-year-old tactician firmly at the helm.
In the end, the North East club ultimately face a huge task in maintaining their Premier League survival with everything fairly taken into account this season. However, as the prospect of relegation may indeed arrive in somewhat inevitable fashion down at the Stadium of Light in 2015/16, Sam Allardyce remains an ideal leader for Sunderland to stand behind in what could very well turn out to be a rather testing period in the club's upcoming history…