Allardyce exits, world laughs at England
AS SAM Allardyce beat a shame-faced retreat from Wembley after being forced out as England manager, his place as a punchline in the national team's ever-expanding hall of shame was already etched in stone.
Allardyce's astonishingly rapid fall from grace seems especially fitting in its self-inflicted arrogance and needless naivety.
Surveying the damage done to a once prestigious post, former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand summed up just how pitiful the national team now looks in the eyes of the world.
"The rest of the football community around the world will be laughing at us. The England role has become comical," Ferdinand said.
Allardyce had been appointed to replace Roy Hodgson after England's miserable Euro 2016 campaign ended with a shock last-16 exit against minnows Iceland.
Despite the warning of Sven-Goran Eriksson's brush with undercover reporters, a tawdry tale that almost cost the Swede the England job in 2006, Allardyce still agreed to exchange gossip and trade secrets with a group of men he didn't know in a London hotel, only days after taking charge.
Asked by the reporters if it would be a problem for their fictitious agency to get involved in third-party ownership through funding football transfers, which is banned under FIFA rules, Allardyce said he knew of certain agents who were "doing it all the time", and added: "You can still get around it. I mean obviously the big money's here."
He compounded his error by crassly referring to Hodgson as "Woy", mimicking his speech impediment, and said the FA had "stupidly spent 870 million pounds" (S$1.5 billion) rebuilding Wembley, while also complaining that Prince William, the FA president, had not attended last week's Euro 2020 launch event in London.
Allardyce criticised Hodgson's approach at Euro 2016, saying he was "too indecisive" and "hasn't got the personality for public speaking".
Still not finished, he poured scorn on England's failure at the tournament by saying their players have a "psychological barrier" and "can't cope".
It was all too much for the image-conscious FA, who summoned Allardyce down to London from his home in Bolton in north-west England before wielding the axe.
Mutual consent was the FA's agreed phrasing, but Allardyce's admission that he was "deeply disappointed" told the real story.
England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate has agreed to take charge of the senior team's next four matches.
But for the second time in three months, the Football Association have to embark on a search for a new man to fill a position that increasingly seems like the very last job any self-respecting coach would want.