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Is Sam Allardyce a good choice for USMNT boss?

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Sam Allardyce isn’t so much throwing his hat into the ring to become the next U.S. national team manager.

He’s launched it in there with extreme velocity on multiple occasions, just like he has done whenever the vacant Everton job has come up in discussion.

The latest such occasion came on Thursday as a guest of Alan Brazil on talkSPORT’s breakfast show. Just take a listen to this from Big Sam when he was asked if he’d take charge of the USA.

For a man who “retired” after leading Crystal Palace to safety last season, Big Sam is quite keen to get a new job.

“Yes I would go, I think. I think there’s a presidential election in January which has stalled the process. If I got the opportunity to speak to the U.S. then I would look forward to it,” Allardyce said. “International football is totally different to Premier League football. It’s 10 games a year. There’s a huge amount of down time, to go and watch the players and all that. It’s not the same day-to-day pressures as you get in the Premier League. I’ve always loved the States. I’ve been going for many, many years. I played there for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and had a terrific time by the way.”

Pro Soccer Talk understands that some current U.S. national team players would not be opposed to Allardyce taking charge of the USA as he would likely go back to basics, give experienced players a final chance to prove themselves and would be a good fit for the defensive style of play most of the USMNT players are comfortable playing with.

Yet Allardyce having an interest in the USMNT job appears to be dividing opinion among U.S. fans. Take a look at any mention of him taking charge of the U.S. on social media.

Responses range from “please God, no” to “this is exactly what the USA needs” and quite a lot of “we could do a lot worse than him” comments.

Well, would the 63-year-old fit the bill for the Stars and Stripes? It’s a difficult one to unravel, especially given the current messy situation with the U.S. Soccer Federation and their leadership.

His managerial experience in England is unquestioned and his ability to overachieve with unfashionable teams is undoubted. But isn’t that what the U.S. are on the international stage?

Worldwide the USMNT are seen as an unfancied squad who can upset the odds by having a simple, team first approach. Look at the USA’s most successful periods in recent tournaments — the quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup, the 2009 Confederations Cup final and to some extent the 2016 Copa American Centenario last four berth — and try to tell me that individual talent wasn’t secondary when it came to those successes.

There were some incredible individual displays during those runs but the team came first and the U.S. were incredibly tough to beat. We talk about creating a new identity for the U.S. national team but a defensive, efficient team saw many nations not wanting to play the U.S. at the last two World Cups. What’s wrong with that?

If Allardyce was handed the reins I think the actual U.S. national team squad, to a man, would know exactly what was expected of them and his tactics may actually get the best out of the type of players the USMNT has. I can already hear you yelling “what about Christian Pulisic’s development?” and I get that. But Big Sam got the best out of mercurial players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff during the twilight of their careers and there are countless other examples of mavericks performing for him. There is room for a little style among his multitude of substance. Honest.

Yet, in a broader sense, would Allardyce help the U.S. kick on across all levels of the national team program?

He only had a brief few months in charge of the English national team — the issues surrounding that are worrying enough and perhaps reason enough for him not to be interviewed for the USMNT job at all — and that is his only previous experience at the international level. Plus, his comments on talkSPORT could come across as someone who fancies a paid vacation in the USA for a few years rather than helping the country fulfill its vast potential as a soccer nation. So the jury is out as to how invested he is when it comes to how young U.S. players are developed.

But, hang on, does he need to worry about that?

Simply put the USMNT head coach should worry about one thing: coaching the U.S. national team players. Don’t let Jurgen Klinsmann’s position as both the head coach and technical director of U.S. Soccer at the same time cloud your judgement. That was a bizarre situation and one which shouldn’t be replicated. Let a coach, coach. There are plenty of other top-class candidates who can work behind-the-scenes to solve the pay-to-play issues and the myriad of problems involving youth development in U.S. Soccer.

I’m not saying U.S. Soccer should hire Sam Allardyce. Far from it. There will be dozens of viable and talented candidates for the job and, in truth, nobody should be appointed until February 2018 at the earliest when we know who the next president of U.S. Soccer is and what their vision is for the future.

Allardyce being in charge of the USMNT wouldn’t be the worst appointment in the world but I’m sure that many U.S. fans would rather see a younger manager with vast MLS and USMNT experience (from a playing and coaching experience) appointed. Those same fans would also want to see a “big name” a la Klinsmann take charge and believe the U.S. is above appointing a manager whose expertise is leading struggling Premier League clubs to safety from relegation.

When you think about it, a failure to reach the 2018 World Cup is a relegation of sorts and the U.S. has reached rock bottom.

It is in those kind of situations where Allardyce usually does his best work. At least in the short-term. The only problem is the U.S. is two years away from actual competitive games.

I can see it now. Fans in the American Outlaws section dressed up in an Uncle Sam costume with an Allardyce mask over their face…

Barry Bennell jailed 30 years for abusing young players

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LIVERPOOL, England (AP) A former English youth soccer coach was jailed Monday for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers after the judge called him the “devil incarnate.”

Barry Bennell, a former coach at Crewe and scout for Manchester City, was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of 50 child sexual offenses committed between 1979 and 1991.

“Your behavior towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil,” Judge Clement Goldstone told the 64-year-old Bennell.

Bennell looked at the floor and nodded as the judge sentenced him. Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but were stopped by the judge.

Goldstone said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God.

“In reality, you were the devil incarnate,” the judge added. “You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”

Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football and had led to them suffering problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.

Bennell has already served three jail terms, totaling 15 years, for similar offenses involving 16 other victims in England and the United States.

LIVE, FA Cup: Wigan host Manchester City

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All conquering Manchester City head to third-tier Wigan Athletic on Monday (Kick off, 2:55 p.m. ET) to keep their quest of a legendary quadruple alive.

[ LIVE: Follow Wigan v Man City here

Pep Guardiola‘s men are 16 points clear atop the Premier League summit, while they are virtually through to the last eight of the UEFA Champions League and are in the League Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday.

Can anyone stop them?

Wigan stand in their way with the Latics promotion favorites from the third tier who have already beaten Premier League teams Bournemouth and West Ham United to reach the last 16.

The winner will host Southampton in the quarterfinal for a place in the semifinal at Wembley Stadium, and City’s fan will be feeling a little nervous heading into this game.

Why? They played Wigan in the FA Cup final in 2013 and lost 1-0 after a last-gasp header from Ben Watson sealed one of the greatest upsets of all time to hand the Latics their first-ever major trophy. Wigan also beat City in the FA Cup quarterfinals in 2015, the last time they met in this competition.

Surely Guardiola’s boys won’t be on the end of another upset this time, especially with this starting lineup…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have analysis and reaction from the final FA Cup fifth round clash right here at Pro Soccer Talk.

Italy VAR chief: Incidents to be shown on stadium screens

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Decisions which have been changed on video review could soon be shown on the giant screens in Italian stadiums, offering soccer fans more clarity.

[ MORE: Juve, Napoli keep winning

The video assistant referee system was introduced in Italy at the start of the season and has been criticized for leaving supporters in the stadiums blind sometimes as to what is happening on the pitch or why a decision has been changed.

The head of the project in Italy, Roberto Rosetti, told Radio Anch’io Sport on Monday: “Probably in a few months’ time we’ll be able to see on big screens in the stadiums images of the decisions that have been changed and why they have been changed.”

Rosetti admits they need to “improve on the uniformity of both interpretation and intervention” but says the positive effect of the VAR can clearly be seen by “the drastic reduction in bookings for protests and anti-sporting behavior.”

Spurs “have the capacity” to win the Champions League

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We know. They just drew 2-2 away at Rochdale in the fifth round of the FA Cup. We know.

[ MORE: Dele Alli and the diving debate

But Tottenham Hotspur’s last 2-2 draw was much more impressive as they went to Juventus and outplayed the reigning Italian champions in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Heading into the second leg at Wembley on Mar. 7, it appears that new signing Lucas Moura, who scored their opening goal against Rochdale on Sunday, is a fan of what he’s seen in his short time at Tottenham.

Speaking to reporters after his first goal for Spurs on his full debut, Moura has high hopes for his time in North London.

“I am 25 years old but I think I gained a lot of experience with PSG and I think I can help Tottenham. I think we have a lot of quality and a great structure and can arrive at the end of the season with a trophy. The Champions League is the most difficult cup but I think we have the capacity to win it if we always think in positives and always work hard,” Moura said, via the Guardian.

“We did a big game against Juventus away. It was a good result in Italy and I am sure we can do a good game with our fans and continue. It’s always important to win. Every player wants to win trophies, to make history and I am here to make history with my new friends, my new team-mates. I believe that because we have a lot of quality, a great structure – I am really impressed – and I think we can dream with the Champions League.”

Does Moura have a point? Aside from a weakened side struggling away at Rochdale on a freshly laid pitch, they’ve been superb in recent months.

And given the current form of Harry Kane and the entire Spurs team there won’t be a single club who says “you know what, let’s take Spurs” if they make it through to the last eight of the UCL.

The high-pressing style of Mauricio Pochettino saw them bully Juve away from home and all of a sudden it seems like the rest of Europe has woken up and realized just how good they are.

If injuries are kind to Spurs and Moura continues to show flashes of brilliance since his arrival from PSG in January, the Brazilian could well be on to something. Tottenham are by no means favorites to win the Champions League, but their recent results against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool prove they are a force to be reckoned with.