Bye then!

Is this the end, then, for the Ordinary Bloke as gaffer? Has the fallout from Entrapmentgate steered football further from the working man than ever? And is that more meaningful and painful than the other stuff about morals and money?

Possibly not. But in doing a favour for a friend of thirty years and then falling into the most obvious of pits-with-tarpaulins-slung-over, Mr Allardyce has undermined your chances (Dave) and yours (Derek, Bazza, Brian, Jim) of rising to high office. Which you might think is gutting.

So who’s to blame then? Slimy undercover journo’s or a clumsy or naive or disturbingly shifty bloke with a napkin (apparently, fitfully) on his head? Or… is that the question?

And how did it come to this? Meaning either how the hell did that bloke become England Manager anyway or how come this paper did this entrapment thing? Both almost equally weird. Throw in the assumption of dentist’s-chairloads of booze, cartoon-character machismo and gert big wedges of money and you really do have a scene we can moralise over, luxuriate in – a scene for our times.

Tough enough already to avoid the view of top-level footie as near criminally grotesque: this latest episode doesn’t so much reinforce that impression as plonk a shiny silver flag on top and krank upp the klaxons. No wonder The Simpsons has been so widely referenced in the reactions; this is Maximum DOH, people!

And yet it maybe does feel unfair. Not just in the possibility that Allardyce has been exposed more for a fool than a criminal but in terms of the influence on this case of the scale of contempt around the game itself – contempt which I am certainly guilty of contributing towards.

Sure other sports lack the garish weight of football’s tackiness – though many clearly share some of its depressing shades. The environment is such that disproportion thrives and fair judgement may be elusive – through that context of diving foreigners and blinged-up lifestyles. How then, can we reconcile the feeling that ‘developments’ following Big Sam’s meeting feel uniquely football and symbolically rotten, with more focussed appreciation of the actual events?

Maybe there can be no event without that baggage? So that appalled but unsurprised, we may not have the heart to search for detail: we may not ‘need to.’ This is all crushingly obvious, after all.

It’s a crappy and predictable do, this, maybe more so because of Big Sam’s crassness but esssentially because this is just how football is. Football is guilty; that’s how most of us feel. Said this plenty times myself, over recent years. Football is guilty.

Can we bothered to go past that? (Is that the question?) Or does that obviousness, that donkey-centre-halfness imply guilt and is that game over?

If we were getting real in a faintly ‘legal’ or philosophical kindofaway we might seek out what it was exactly, that took the England Gaffer into the Plainly Unacceptable Yonder? That may be a pertinent question but it is one which I, for one, disillusioned, can barely be arsed to ask.

Except I have. I know I’ve been prejudiced against Big Sam so I’ve thought a lit-tle more. Read stuff… before returning to my instinct that he’s too dumb-blokey to inhabit the role and that this probably matters enough. Or carries over into the You’re Nailed column, thus nailing him.

So – Telegraph. Allardyce. Two fascinatingly different arms of the Footie Psychomonolith. The latter we imagine boozy and sweated-up, the former more inclined to feint, to weave,  to cheat out a weakness.  Because this was a kinda pugilistic occasion – or became so.

Look until a complete transcription of the two(?) meetings becomes available, we’re speculating and/or lumping in our opinions, high or low. Meaning I can find it in my heart to forgive myself, for assuming the daft bugger got a bit flash, bit tempted and told The Telegraph (asitappened) just enough of what they wanted to hear.

Absolutely drab, Fab.

I didn’t want to contribute to Arrivederci-ville overkill but hard not to, in truth. Who doesn’t have an opinion on the smart exit of the cultured by slightly man-out-time Italian? Who doesn’t have a view of our ‘Arry’s flair, his money, his undoubted love of a loyal dog? (With money.) The thing is ripe for opinion and rich ground for the extrapolation of theories as diverse as the modus operandum of the two protoganists.

The thing with Harry has always been a football thing; an authentic, arm around the shoulder thing whereby mainly through sheer force of enthusiasm, players have been allowed to play- been liberated. Central to this hugely engaging phenomenon has been the personality of the man himself. In fact, it may be the case that Harry is very much the successor to a certain B Clough in the sense that though of course certain tactical mores are available to him, the success is all about inspiring belief. To the extent that matters of team shape and energy seem mere natural extensions of a faith inspired by Redknapp pre-game.

Harry has always done this; been close, been involved, shared the humour and the essential wit of the dressing room and training pitch. Then distilled/communicated/unleashed something of its irresistible force onto the park. Consequently, fans and players alike recognise one of their own – admittedly a brilliantly shrewd and knowledgeable one – who crucially commits utterly to an exciting and free-flowing model of the game itself; a model that coincides pretty exactly with what fans ideally want. So people love Harry; he is viewed first and foremost as a proper football man, or (more exactly, perhaps, given both his roots and his rootsiness?) a proper football geezer.

This slightly trench-coated version has recently come under scrutiny in a gruelling investigation – not without its personal edge – of Redknapp’s financial dealings. It was alleged that Harry dishonestly failed to cough up taxes due on substantial monies arising from football matters. The nature of those dealings – percentages upon transfers in particular come to mind – seemed all a bit East End Alley to many of us but did not, ultimately, either compromise his immediate liberty, or his reputation. Whilst the former of these two facts may be initially of most significance to the Redknapp family, it is clear that the lack of stain upon that manager’s Mac will be key in terms of a likely England Manager’s posting.

I am not I know alone in regarding the £300,000 received by Redknapp as his own percentage of the Rio Ferdinand sale as a rather crass throwback to allegedly simpler times; it feels inappropriate, exploitative, unwelcome. But it was not illegal and contravened no contract other than our own, ludicrously naive one with decency. Harry walked, indeed he strode manfully away – a touch further embittered against the police and the papers no doubt – but on and away he marched.

Meanwhile Fab was presumably smouldering. We can only presume because Capello has rarely opened either his heart or even his gestural vocabulary to us. (Unheard of for an Italian, surely?) If he did, it may be that we might have been more forgiving of his austere but cultured introversion. For though he was a thinker and a man of principle, he never showed us; apparently the will to assimilate and thereby associate barely entered his head. Capello either wanted a clinical (loveless?) respect-based relationship with some abstract notion of The English And Their Football or he wanted… what? High(er) art and music and the quiet life of a man in retirement from the slings and arrows? Who knows.

Fabio quite rightly never pretended to be anything other than an old-school man; believing in punctuality, respect, discipline. As such his appointment made sense at a time when our inclination was probably to punish those show ponies and their revolting circus. International players who binge-drink?!? Top top players who’s vulgarity offends us?!? And the flash gits can’t even PLAY! Let’s get FAB!! He’ll sort them out. And for a while, in a way, he did.

But it wasn’t much fun. Even the winning wasn’t, you felt. Too many obvious frailties; too little obvious progress. Then the World Cup.

The performance of both the players and the Management Team at the last World Cup was surely one of the greats. Rarely has such ineptitude, spinelessness and such petrification gathered together so spectacularly in a single team campaign. It was magnificently, insultingly poor. Fabio had the inspiring quality of a crinkle-cut chip – he was quirky and outdated and bad for us. The anti-ambience he had created destroyed any sign of life-affirming humour at an estimated distance of fifty yards. Performances were beyond parody – especially that of Wayne Rooney – and the manager’s inability to react, to help, actually, was remarkable. It remains a fabulous and appropriate irony that the only thing that kept Fab in his job was the fact the incompetent FA could not reasonably afford to sack him. Ha!!

Now Mr Capello may have quite reasonably resigned on a point of principle. Namely that he should have been consulted on the demotion (vol2.) of his preferred captain, John Terry. If that was the case, he has a point. (Not as big a point as those who argue that Terry simply cannot be England skipper whilst a live racism charge stands against him but a point nevertheless.) But clearly an opportunity has presented itself for all parties in this loveless marriage to walk with some dignity in the ‘different directions’ so oft-quoted in these affairs.

But setting aside the ushering in of  The People’s Favourite, the thing lacks a feelgood factor pretty entirely. Ideally the rashly misunderstood but sadly unintelligible Italian, who will surely be remembered more as drab-Fab than as the hoped-for Cool Don of our own domestic game will be taking a soul-searing alpine route, with some symbolic elephants, perhaps? Inflatable ones; nice pink inflatable ones, on shiny new ribbons, clasped gaily up and over to his beloved Italy, grinning not gurning all the way.

How great would it be if by some happy touristic freak, Harry and Jamie and a spookily risen Rosie came smiling (beerily, post-apres-ski) past?