Sam Allardyce and the Art of Compromise

James Dutton looks at Sam Allardyce’s return to form and the struggle of other Premier League managers to adapt…

“There are two types of coaches. There’s coaches like me who weigh up the opposition and ask the team to adjust. Fergie was similar. Jose is similar. Then there’s Arsène, who won’t adjust. There’s Brendan, who looks like he won’t adjust. There’s Manuel Pellegrini, who looks like he won’t adjust, even in the Champions League.

“Their philosophy is different to ours. Ours is more about who are we playing against. Their philosophy is more, ‘We always play this way’, and they won’t change, they carry doing on the same thing. That’s why you can beat them.”

Sam Allardyce, October 2014

Sam Allardyce is no stranger to talking up his own abilities; in a fairer world where ‘good football men’ are rewarded for their determination, passion and persistence he would be the man sending Cristiano Ronaldo out every week to break record after record in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Instead he’s leading the Andy Carroll renaissance and has propelled West Ham United to third place in the league amidst their best ever start to a Premier League season. Continue reading

Editor’s Column: Is Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero the best in the Premier League?

The False Nine’s editor column returns as James Dutton assesses the true value of Sergio Aguero, and looks back at a fascinating international break…

The Premier League has undoubtedly lost a little of its stardust over the last two seasons. The departures of Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez to La Liga have shorn the country’s greatest export of its two most globally acclaimed star players.

The summer arrivals of Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Alexis Sanchez were welcome steps in the right direction for a league which prides itself on being The Best In The World™. But perhaps the league’s shining light was already staring us in the face?

Is it time to recognise that Sergio Aguero is the best footballer in the Premier League? This is not just in response to the four goal burst on Saturday that blew away Tottenham Hotspur away from home yet again. The regularity of injuries that curse the Argentine striker mean it is very easy to overlook his outstanding ability. Continue reading

Manchester City: Why is David Silva Immune from Criticism?

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In the autumn of 2011 David Silva was regarded as the best footballer in the Premier League. James Dutton asks why the stall in his career since has gone largely unnoticed…

Cast your minds back to October 2011 and Manchester City’s 6-1 drubbing of Manchester United; a result that looks less era-defining now, 20 months on, but which momentarily confirmed City’s unrivaled ascendance in English football.

The performance was as virtuoso as the result was seismic; central to it all was the dynamism of David Silva. It confirmed his status, in autumn 2011, as the best player in the Premier League.

The Spaniard was instrumental in the first two goals, scored by Mario Balotelli, combining with James Milner to devastating effect, and struck late on himself. He wove a tapestry across the Old Trafford pitch with every swish of his magical left boot, constantly twisting and turning, drifting into space and always with an innate awareness of those around him.

He provided City’s coup de grace for the final goal; an instinctive, 40-yard volleyed through-ball from inside his own half to set Edin Dzeko racing clear. It remains one of the greatest assists in Premier League history. Continue reading