Slovakia v England: Sam Allardyce has big boots to fill on the road to Russia

The Three Lions are even money to get the new England boss off to a winning start in Slovakia on Sunday evening

Let’s face it. After a dismal Euros performance England fans were downright miserable, packing away their St. George’s flags after yet another disappointing tournament. England players were hardly much better. Most of Wayne Rooney’s hair has since fallen out (again) and Joe Hart came back from France a shell of the man he used to be.

So I guess we can add Euro 2016 to the World Cups of 2010 and 2014 – when England came, saw and conquered very little. They reached the last 16 in South Africa in 2010, but failed to even get out of the group stages in Brazil 2014.

England’s crash and burn in France, however, was all the more humiliating. Losing 2-1 to 34th-ranked Iceland in Nice has left many fans still waking up in cold sweats, the Viking battle chant ringing in their ears.

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They say when things get tough, an angel appears. This supposed angel came to the Three Lions in the form of a big bloke from Dudley. A long-ball connoisseur, a raver in Marbella and a Mourinho wind-up merchant. Big Sam, who else?

The first challenge of his England reign comes on Sunday away to Slovakia. Thrown in at the deep end with no friendly matches, Sam and his boys head to Slovakia to take their first tentative step on the long road to Russia 2018.

The two sides met at Euro 2016, resulting in a 0-0 draw and a frustrating 30 shots on goal. It is for another repeat of that performance. Recent England gaffers are no strangers to a stalemate, both Roy Hodgson and Fabio Capello gained one point in their debut competitive matches.

It seems Big Sam has big boots to fill for his first game. None of the last six permanent England Managers have lost their first competitive game in charge. Also, none of the last three managers to kick-start their England career without a friendly match under their belt have lost. The Three Lions are to taste success at the weekend.

But, if there was ever a man with experience it would be Big Sam. With 467 Premier League games under his belt and a reputation for rescuing struggling clubs, could Sunday’s fixture be the first in an England redemption?

And if the result fails to bring the English lads any happiness, they can take comfort in the knowledge that Big Sam has arranged a quiz night with Paddy McGuinness and Bradley Walsh for all the squad to enjoy…


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