Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce admits he still has an eye on the England job as he embarks on his mission to steer the struggling Black Cats away from Premier League relegation.
Allardyce conceded yesterday, as he faced the media for the first time since his appointment last week, that reversing a run of just three points from their first eight games represented “a big challenge”.
But the 60-year-old, let go by West Ham when his contract expired in the summer, has enough confidence in his fire-fighting experience to retain hopes of succeeding Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson.
“If I am doing exceptionally well when Roy decides he doesn’t want to be there, then I have got a chance,” said Allardyce, who writes in his new book that he, not Steve McClaren, should have got the job in 2006.
Hodgson’s contract runs out after next summer’s European Championship and Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has made clear that any extension depends on England’s performance at the tournament.
Former Sunderland player Allardyce revealed he thought twice about becoming the 13th man in as many years to lead the club, but that he had been unable to resist the task.
“It is in my blood. The challenge is something I need. It is almost an addiction. Waking up and coming in here, it’s not work really,” he said.
Sunderland lie 19th in the top flight and face West Brom on Saturday before taking on fellow strugglers Newcastle, who sacked Allardyce in 2008 and are now managed by McClaren.
“It is a big challenge. Even at this early stage of the season it is clear we are in trouble,” he added. “The fact that we have 30 games will be as important as anything else because it may take the vast majority of them to get safe. My job is hopefully not to get into that panic and fear zone where there are a few games left and if you don’t win, you get relegated.”