The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
Sam Allardyce is out at Newcastle, which is a good thing, because he’s been sacked in spirit for so long now that I was starting to worry he might zombify in the middle of a match. Newcastle are of course portraying the decision as one reached by “mutual consent,” which is always the phrase that seems to float out of the football world when one party is happily looking toward the future and the other is curled up like a pile of discarded laundry on the bathroom floor. Not that I’m saying who’s who in this situation, of course.
The owner of the Toon, the cuddly billionaire Mike Ashley, will now have to decide whether to deal a crushing blow to intelligent football commentary by luring Alan Shearer away from Match of the Day, or start searching elsewhere for a replacement (one commenter on the Times football blog suggested Arsène Wenger, who I think we can all agree would be an excellent choice, assuming Rinus Michels isn’t available), or, given that he’s Mike Ashley, dressing up in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform and making snow angels in his secluded pleasure garden at the entrance to the caves of Xanadu. Bookmakers have yet to release odds, but I’m starting to calculate them for myself.
It’s hard to say what would be a good next move either for Newcastle or for Allardyce. I’m not radiant with faith in the ability of Alan Shearer to turn around a club as deeply and weirdly troubled as Newcastle in his first managerial job, but then again, the Mourinhos of the world aren’t likely to be tempted by the opportunity. As for Allardyce—well, it’s been a difficult eight months. If you own a De Lorean capable of reaching 88 miles an hour, and you’d be willing to point it in the direction of Bolton, I think you could name your price.
by Brian Phillips · January 9, 2008