Sam Allardyce will debut as England coach against Croatia


Sam “Big Sam” Allardyce is set to make his debut as England manager in a friendly match against Croatia at Wembley Stadium on 1 September.

England’s Football Association (FA) is expected to announce the fixture on Monday, when Allardyce will also hold his first press conference since being officially unveiled as Roy Hodgson’s successor last week.

Allardyce, 61, has signed an initial two-year, heavily incentivised contract potentially worth £3.5m annualy. The agreement also comes with the option to extend the deal until 2020 if the England team under his charge performs well in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“I will do everything I can to help England do well and give our nation the success our fans deserve,” said Allardyce. “Above all, we have to make the people and the whole country proud.”

“While my main focus will be on the senior team and getting positive results, I want to add my influence to the great work being done across the development teams at St George’s Park. I know we have talented, committed players and it is time for us to deliver.”

The selection of Allardyce had been a unanimous one made by the FA’s recruitment panel that comprises of Martin Glenn, the chief executive; Dan Ashworth, the technical director; and David Gill, the vice-chairman.

Allardyce had been described by Glenn as the ideal candidate” and an “energising” force. Glenn was impressed by the former Bolton and West Ham manager’s innovative use of psychology and sports science that was combined with a desire to restore England’s missing identity.

“Sam Allardyce is the right man for the England job,” Glenn said. “His excellent managerial credentials, including his ability to realise the potential of players and teams, develop a strong team ethos and embrace modern methods that enhance performance, made him the outstanding choice.”

English players had been supportive of the choice; captain Wayne Rooney has readily accepted the challenge “to deliver”.

“I think it’s a good appointment,” he said. “He will probably bring a different way of playing to England and hopefully it’s a good way and we can be successful under him. I’ll be there.”

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