Full disclosure: I'm a Bolton Wanderers fan, so there is an unashamed bias underwriting (some of) this content.


Most people will likely agree that Big Sam is a dodgy b*stard, and as a result of his own insane actions has been forced out the England job.

But of course, the FA didn't know ANYTHING about his reputation before handing him the job, did they?

Maybe they missed the Panorama documentary on BBC One?

And they obviously hadn't talked to many people from within the game either, who surely would've known he 'bent the rules' a tad.

Now I'm not condoning what he did, I just hate the hypocrisy.

Look at FIFA for God's sake... One of the most corrupt institutions on the planet... But NOTHING is done about it.

And look at all the accusations over the years of big clubs making illegal approaches for players (*cough, Sir Alex, cough*)... But we let that slide, don't we?

Sam's often ugly but effective methods mean that people love to see him fail, and 'set about' him every time he steps out of line.

I'm focussing on what he did right, though, to get there in the first place - because it's pretty bloody remarkable.

The one big thing, big sam did right was...

Big Sam thought BIG

Born on a council estate in Dudley, he had a humble start in life. He earned his stripes as a player, battling in the physical West Midlands amateur leagues, finding a home at centre-half, where his size and strength set him apart.

As a pro, he was a bit of a 'journeyman', mostly organising back fours and kicking lumps out of opponents for mostly average clubs.

But he earned the respect of his fellow players with his blood-and-guts approach to the game.

The leadership skills he built as a player took him into management once he retired. He built a promising reputation in the lower leagues before eventually gaining the opportunity to lead the mighty Bolton Wanderers in 1999.

When he took over, the club were struggling to break free from the second tier of the English game... But during his second season, he secured a playoff place and won promotion back to the 'big time'.

Once there, though, he didn't just aim for survival - He had much BIGGER plans.

Using his charm, alternative coaching methods and telescopic vision, he attracted some of the best players who ever kicked a football.

Names like Fernando Hierro, Jay-Jay Okocha, Nicolas Anelka and (my personal favourite) Ivan Campo graced the hallowed turf.

Each of them were fading stars, in the twilight of their careers, but they still had something to give. And Sam got it out of them.

Nobody expected to see world class footballers playing at the Reebok Stadium, not lining up for the home team, anyway! 

Sam made the best of what he had; begging, stealing and borrowing to form a misfit gang of players, who somehow gelled to become one of the most feared 'underdogs' in the English game.

The key to his success was going all-in on his strengths.

As a player, this was his size and toughness - As a manager, it was his ability to push players beyond their limits and re-inspire those who had thought it was all over.

He made mistakes along the way, and maybe broke a rule or two (ok, he definitely did).

But I don't believe for one second that dozens of other managers weren't (and arren't) doing the same thing (or far worse).

A wise man once said; 'Haters have all the answers, but are frustrated that they can't put them into action'.

That's why the muppets in the press lynch him... It's weak thinking and piss-poor journalism.

So before criticising a man who has achieved results far beyond his natural talent... Try looking at what he did RIGHT, and maybe learn something from the man.

It's a much nicer way to see the world.