Allardyce fears for England identity

December 14, 2007

Sam Allardyce has warned the Football Association they need to pump millions into the game at grassroots level if they are to produce the England managers and players of the future.

Indeed, the Newcastle boss is concerned if they do not, the English game risks losing its identity.

His comments came as the FA prepared to unveil Italian Fabio Capello as Steve McClaren's replacement.

The 53-year-old Allardyce, who was a serious candidate for the job before McClaren was appointed, has no qualms about Capello's track record or ability, but believes the fact no Englishman was deemed suitable highlights inherent problems in this country's football.

'If this needs to be the short-term fix, then fine, if it gets us what we want at the top end,' Allardyce said.

'But we should, as an FA now, be self-promoting and self-building.

'They are responsible for all football in this country at every level, and the reality for them is, once they have made this appointment at the top end, that should hopefully be put right in the near future.

'But then the main focus should really go down to the development of footballers, coaches and managers, British or English, for us to still have a dream that we can ultimately achieve.

'I am very fortunate as an Englishman to probably ride as the top manger of the top club in the Premier League.

'I am with one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, and it has taken me probably 16 years to get to this level.

'We cannot allow the young managers below to not have the dream of being able to either manage a top club in the Premier League or manage the national team.

'I think that would be very, very dangerous. If we carry on like that, we will end up losing our own identity.

'Hopefully, the focus will go into grassroots and development after this and they will pump the millions that is needed into that area now immediately so we can see the benefits over the next four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years.

'If we don't do that, we are in grave danger of losing our identity and not developing the next national team or as many English or British-based players of the right quality to play in this fabulous league.'

In the shorter term, Allardyce has backed Capello to make an impact with England, provided he can balance his demands with those of the Premier League's top clubs.

He said: 'From an actual CV point of view and what he has achieved as a coach or a manager in his career and at his age, it all looks very, very good indeed.

'From a personal point of view, I would have like it to be English, but from the point of view of his CV and his availability, his age and his experience, it looks very, very good.'

He added: 'The problem lies in the Premier League being such a demanding league that when the top players come to meet up with the international team, they are physically and mentally fatigued.

'To overcome that, where do you get the rest to put the national team together to be successful?