Sam Allardyce: a modern definition of stupidity

England manager is no easy job. But Sam Allardyce's performance takes the biscuit.


Sam Allardyce: an astonishingly quick fall from grace

It's the most high-pressured job in the country. Every decision you make is second-guessed by the media. Even if you do it well you can end up being hated by the public. No, I'm not talking about being prime minister, but the far more important role of England manager. Indeed, the roll call of failure is so long that The Daily Telegraph's Jim White is probably being generous when he calls it "the management equivalent of kryptonite". However, even White is "astonished" by the speed of Sam Allardyce's fall from grace.

Allardyce was England manager until he resigned this week after he was caught advising reporters from the Telegraph that it was possible to get around the ban on third-party ownership of players something that been prohibited in the UK for eight years. This means that his England career lasted just 67 days and one game. "Even Kevin Keegan managed to last a whole year before resigning in the gents of the old Wembley Stadium."

"Big Sam" is hardly the first England manager to fall for a newspaper sting. Sven-Goran Eriksson was doomed after he told an undercover reporter that he might fancy the Aston Villa job for £5m a year.

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However, The Guardian's Dan Taylor thinks while Allardyce shouldn't expect sympathy: his misdeeds are fairly small "in the grand scheme of managerial scandals": they boil down to a few candid comments and discussing a £400,000 deal for "four meet-and-greets and nothing else" in Singapore and Hong Kong. "The rest of it is the kind of standard pub talk most football people would come out with on a night out."

I'm not a football fan, so I can't judge, but it's probably true that he's guilty of nothing more than being a buffoon. No, the thing that really concerns me is that the FA was paying a huge sum of money to someone who wasn't intelligent enough to work out that he was speaking to an undercover reporter. As the Daily Mirror puts it, "a boss on £3m a year who is prepared to risk his reputation and career for a questionable £400,000 deal is a modern definition of stupidity".

The wages of divorce

It's not only public figures that sell out of course. I doubt there is any more soul-destroying job than a divorce lawyer. Sadly, it can also be extremely lucrative. Indeed, a recent Bloomberg profile of Laura Wasser, who is handling Angelina Jolie's divorce from Brad Pitt, notes that "she charges $850 an hour, requires a $25,000 retainer, and rarely represents people who have less than $10m". Her fat fees mean she can afford an office in an expensive part of Los Angeles decorated with "a fur rug and a gold hand grenade for a coffee-table centrepiece".

Interestingly, after graduating from law school, Wasser initially chose less lucrative, but far more fulfilling work at a disability rights firm. This involved "fighting for handrails in public bathrooms, that sort of thing". However, the temptation to strike it rich proved too much, and after her own marriage ended she decided to "pursue a legal career that paid better". As a result, she joined the law firm headed by her father (who charges even more than her at $950 an hour). I know which job I'd prefer.

Tabloid money the two faces of Arthur Scargill

"Arthur Scargill has two faces," says Kelvin MacKenzie in The Sun. "One he enjoys showing the world: the great trade unionist, the great socialist, the great fighter against the evils of capitalism." The other is the real Arthur Scargill the face of the man who has just snapped up his council flat in London's fashionable Barbican for £1,050,000 after two decades trying.

His initial application to buy under Margaret Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme was blocked in 1993 because his primary residence was elsewhere. He's even getting a £500,000 discount on the flat, now worth £2m. "Why should the leader of the Socialist Labour Party be allowed to pocket a million?"

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, is another man who should be ashamed, says the Daily Mail's Peter Oborne. Not only was he "an expensive proposition" of former chancellor George Osborne, costing the taxpayer £7m if he stays on for his full eight years, and racking up £300,000 in travel expenses, but he was "also an activist for the Remain campaign by providing important support for Osborne's unscrupulous Project Fear'".

Nigel Lawson, another former chancellor, has called for Carney to go. "There is no arguing with Lord Lawson's remarks," says Oborne. Carney should go back to "venal Goldman Sachs", the "disreputable Wall Street investment bank" he used to work for, and where he is "most likely to feel at home".

Supermodel Kate Moss, on the other hand, is leaving Storm, the modelling agency, after almost 30 years, says Karren Brady in The Sun on Sunday. "It didn't matter how much we would try and do it together with them, I was always going to be the little Kate that they've known since I was 14," said Moss, now aged 42, explaining her decision to set up on her own. "I wanted to spread my wings." True, with £56m under her belt, it would be easy to ask what risk she is taking, says Brady. But risks "are easier to take when you are younger because you have nothing to lose, and that is what makes this move all the more impressive".