After being relieved from his duties as West Ham United manager mere minutes after the final whistle went on the last day of the league campaign in 2014/15, Sam Allardyce must have felt somewhat relieved.
His contract in the east end had run its course up until that point after all, and as Big Sam didn’t exactly enjoy the greatest of relationships with the Upton Park faithful last season, perhaps it’s best that the two parties ultimately decided to part ways.
West Ham currently see themselves as a club on the up. With the Olympic Stadium move almost upon the east enders going into the new campaign – as well as the advent of enjoying a positive run in the Europa League throughout 2015/16 – the idea of sticking with someone as supposedly one dimensional as Sam Allardyce did in fact seem slightly questionable to say the least.
Now that the former Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn boss has formally moved on from West Ham however, just where will Big Sam eventually end up next, and what does fate ultimately have in store for the recently departed Hammers manager?
Well for one thing, Allardyce himself hasn’t come out of this whole scenario much different to how he first entered it. When West Ham first appointed the now 60-year-old after their much publicized relegation to the Championship in 2010/11, most believed that Big Sam would use his long-term experience in the English top flight to get his new club successfully promoted at the first time of asking.
As that is exactly what Allardyce achieved during his first season at Upton Park, many have warned West Ham to ‘be careful what they wish for’ going into the new campaign. The former Bolton man not only restored the club’s Premier League status in the modern era, but he also maintained his side’s place in the highest tier of the English game, ensuring survival with every passing season.
As survival seemed to be the only real concern of the ex-Hammers boss across the last few years however, perhaps his recent dismissal from the London based club makes a great deal more sense when West Ham’s desire to move on and progress up the table is fully taken into account.
Allardyce knew his way around the Premier League – that goes without saying – but through his increasingly defensive tactics, somewhat lacking technical style, and overall difficulty adapting to his new set of supporters, it remains hard to imagine Big Sam moving onto a better side than West Ham going into the future.
Sunderland – who reportedly registered a recent interest in Sam Allardyce before eventually deciding to extend their partnership with Dick Advocaat – could therefore represent a viable move for the 60-year-old should circumstances allow next season. He may have distanced himself from the post initially, but as Allardyce has previously played for the Black Cats during his younger days, it really wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see Big Sam back in the North East soon.
Leicester City – with Nigel Pearson very likely to endure another truly testing experience in the Premier League next term – could also represent a possible move for Allardyce. The Foxes need stability during this stage of their development, and as the ex-Hammers boss has proved at each of his previous clubs in the top flight, that is something that Big Sam seems to have nailed down in abundance.
Witnessing Sam Allardyce taking up managerial duties at either of the promoted clubs remains a doubtful scenario nonetheless. Big Sam usually favours sides with a distinct core of physical, well rounded, experienced players making up the spines of his respective teams. As each of Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich all look pretty weak at this stage in the game, the chances of Sam actually joining up with them remain slim at best.
With the Middle Eastern leagues and the MLS always on the lookout for notorious ex-Premier League managers though, maybe Big Sam will be tempted by a move abroad if nothing crops up organically closer to home. Equally, a move back down to the Championship with his former side Bolton could also be on the cards – but only if the circumstances feel right for both parties.
Ultimately then, it remains hard to guess just where Big Sam will eventually end up in his next job in the dug-out, but as his name has always been close to the Premier League whether or not he has been directly involved, it looks likely that Sam Allardyce will be back among the action sooner rather than later.