George Burley offers old foe Sam Allardyce ‘all the luck in the world’ for England job
- Credit: PA
Former Ipswich Town manager George Burley says new England boss Sam Allardyce still feels a sense of injustice over his Bolton side’s epic play-off defeat at Portman Road back in 2000.
Burley and Allardyce twice had titanic two-legged face-offs at the end of the 90s as the pair battled to reach the Premier League.
Bolton were victorious in 1998/99 after a 1-0 home win and 4-3 away defeat, after extra-time, was enough to see them go through to the final – which they lost to Watford – on the away goals rule.
A year later, the pair met again in the semi-finals. Town drew 2-2 at The Reebok Stadium and then won an incredible second leg 5-3. Referee Barry Knight awarded Ipswich three penalties in that memorable match and sent off two Bolton players.
Ipswich went on to beat Barnsley in the final at Wembley, while Bolton won the play-offs themselves the following year to join them in the top-flight.
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“I don’t think Sam has ever forgiven the referee, but I keep telling him they were blatant penalties!” jokes Burley. “Those semi-final matches were full of highs and lows for both teams. All I remember is him being a little bit sore afterwards.”
Burley went on to guide Town to a fifth-place finish in the top-flight and manage the likes of Derby, Hearts, Southampton and Crystal Palace. He also had a year in charge of his homeland of Scotland.
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“International management is a different job entirely,” said Burley. “You virtually have to babysit the players for three or four days at a time and there isn’t much chance to work on things.
“I found it hard. My strength has always been working with young players, bringing them through the academy and making them better. That was the way I was brought up under Sir Bobby (Robson).
“Internationally it’s hard to develop your own style because you’re trying to talk players into doing something they aren’t used to at their clubs. It’s the clubs that pay the wages and so club football has a lot of power.”
Allardyce, 61, has a long and varied CV including three promotions and no relegations.
“Sam is a similar age and from a similar era to me,” said Burley. “I played against him in the FA Youth Cup and came up against him a few times as a manager.
“He’s always been a thinker and he always gets the best out of players. The game has changed a lot over the years and it will be interesting to see how he gets on.
“He has his way of playing, he believes in that strongly and I’m sure that won’t change much.
“I think the issues with English football run deeper than the manager. I think it goes to grassroots with the amount of sport kids are doing in school and things like that.
“It’s too easy to say that English players don’t get an opportunity because of the influx of foreign players. The bottom line is that England needs to produce better players.”
Burley added: “Sam has earnt his chance and I wish him all the luck in the world because it’s not an easy job.”