Andy Dunn Sam Allardyce is set to return to management (Photo: PA Archive)
Sacked from his treasured England job after just one game, widely scorned for his secretly-filmed antics, still tagged as a coach of unattractive football.
But when the formalities on his new club contract are completed, Crystal Palace will have sold themselves to Sam Allardyce as much as Sam Allardyce has sold himself to Crystal Palace.
That is how desperate, how urgent the need to stay in the Premier League has become.
Allardyce might have been shamed by the Football Association, when they paid him £1million to walk away from England after just 67 days, but he has never believed that to be a stain on his professional reputation.
While Allardyce immediately set his sights on proving yet another point after the England humiliation, he did not – does not, seeing as how the deal is not officially done – have to take the first job that came along. After the festive and New Year fixture frenzy, you would not bet against a couple of others coming up sooner rather than later.
Which is why, although he will have outlined to the club board exactly how he will save them from relegation,
he will have needed assurances from the Palace hierarchy himself.
The alarm bells might have been ringing distantly when Alan Pardew made reference to “serious investors… who perhaps don’t know a lot about football”.
Alan Pardew has paid the price for Palace’s poor form (Photo: Christopher Lee)
Allardyce will want clarity on his day-to-day point of contact and exactly how the dynamic between chairman Steve Parish and American billionaire co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer works.
He will also have wanted a guarantee of a certain level of support in the transfer window.
But Allardyce would not see that purely as a survival fund.
The main reason Palace is an attractive proposition for the former West Ham and Newcastle boss – despite their perilous league position – is what he believes to be the quality of the squad.
Those close to Allardyce say he considers the Palace squad he will be inheriting from Pardew to have greater depth and calibre than the one he took over at the Stadium of Light in October 2015.
He collected 36 points from 30 Premier League games with that squad – that’s 1.2 points per match. The current Palace team is averaging 0.88 points per game this season and Sunderland – in their first season post-Sam – are averaging 0.82 points per game.
Pardew, in the whole of 2016, was averaging 0.72 points per game – that is why he had to go.
Allardyce has rebounded quickly after being sacked by England (Photo: Getty Images Europe)
Big Sam believes he got his Black Cats squad punching above its weight and, if he can pull off the same trick with Palace, then, next season, the club’s ambitions can be set higher. Allardyce will see this not just as a firefighting job – although, initially, that is what it is – but as a job with prospects of battling in the top half of the table.
While the appointment might not go down too swimmingly with some Eagles supporters, for Palace to excite Allardyce is a positive reflection on the club.
There are some within the 62-year-old’s circle of friends and family who have suggested he might wind down after a 25-year
managerial career that has had its stresses and strains.
Some thought he might settle back into life in his Lancashire home and not relish being uprooted again.
But the Palace job is one that will put a sparkle back in Big Sam. He won’t just be at a club he thinks he can keep in the Premier League, he will be at one he thinks can go places.