Leeds United, my beloved club, is the gift that keeps on giving. We are on our fourth manager this season, the third on permanent terms. Definitely a club in crisis.

The sacking of Javi Gracia was not a knee-jerk reaction by any stretch of the imagination. As much as the decision smacks of panic, it is also understandable. The results have been dreadful, the team out-of-sorts and the ship rudderless.

There will be no “muchas gracias” from me to Gracia, I’m afraid. Just “Goodbye, Javi, and thanks for nothing.”

But to sack a manager with four games to play and a flimsy one point above the relegation zone just sums up our chaotic season.

Who would be the manager of such a club?

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Step forward Sam Allardyce, a man with a storied managerial career.

Welcome to Elland Road, Big Sam, and good luck. You are going to need it by the bucketful.

Big Sam at Elland Road – YouTube

The legend of Big Sam

As a raging relegation inferno engulfs and threatens to raze down Elland Road, club bosses have called out Big Sam’s fire brigade.

The hapless Javi Gracia under whose watch the fire spread unabated has been told to put down his ineffective fire extinguisher and that his services are no longer required.

In comes veteran firefighter, Allardyce, who answers to the moniker of ‘Big Sam’, a man whose reputation as a rescuer of clubs in distress precedes him.

Some will say Allardyce is the manager Leeds United needed when Jesse Marsch was sacked in January – a manager who puts pragmatism before aesthetics. Allardyce of course does not agree with this “lazy” assessment of his managerial style. He believes he is more complex than that.

Big Sam’s teams are not always pleasing on the eye, but they are very effective. What they lack in flair and artistry they more than make up for with industry, grit and organisational astuteness. Allardyce will give the players a kick up their collective backside and inject some much-needed confidence into a squad running on empty in that area.

However, although Big Sam’s reputation for patching up broken clubs to excellent effect is justified, it is not an unsullied reputation. Indeed, his last rescue mission at West Brom ended in failure. That should serve as a cautionary reminder that Allardyce does not have a magic wand. He is not the surefire saviour some Leeds United fans might be beginning to think of him as.

The Leeds United challenge

There is a consensus among bystanders watching the lusty flames consuming Leeds United that it would be a miracle if Big Sam managed to put out the inferno.

The new manager has his work cut out for him. He must ensure that the thread by which the club is hanging on precariously does not catch fire. Allardyce is under no illusion about the magnitude of the job that awaits him. To his credit, he has not shirked. He has answered Leeds United’s SOS and is embracing the challenge.

But then again, Allardyce has nothing to lose, does he? If Leeds United were to survive the drop his legend would be enhanced. If they go down his reputation would still remain intact because neutral observers’ estimation is that the Leeds rot is too far gone to remedy, even for a man who thrives on pulling clubs from the precipice.

Salvaging Leeds United’s Premier League status would be up there with Big Sam’s biggest managerial accomplishments.

Pep Guardiola’s equal?

Allardyce sounded a defiant note at his unveiling, projecting a gladiatorial comportment in stark contrast to his predecessor’s timid demeanor.

He is a coach supremely confident in his abilities and is clearly relishing the battles ahead. After all, he will only be pitting his wits against his equals.

“There’s nobody ahead of me in football terms. Not Pep, not Klopp, not Arteta,” said Allardyce.

That claim will be immediately put to the test on Saturday, thanks to the scheduling gods’ impeccable sense of humour and timing.

Allardyce starts his four-match tenure with a trip to Guadiola’s league leaders, a Manchester City side increasingly looking like champions-elect.

Roll on Saturday.

Leeds United, how do I love thee!

9 April – Leeds United 1-5 Crystal Palace
17 April – Leeds United 1-6 Liverpool
22 April – Fulham 2-1 Leeds United
25 April – Leeds United 1-1 Leicester City
29 April – Bournemouth 4-1 Leeds United

6 May – Manchester City v Leeds United 15:00
13 May – Leeds United v Newcastle 15:00
20 May – West Ham v Leeds United 15:00
28 May – Leeds United v Tottenham 17:00


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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