Allardyce was one of the first managers to use ProZone, the computer system that tracks every physical detail of a player during a match. He is wired up to an earpiece during games and has consulted the expertise of Humphrey Walters, the business guru Sir Clive Woodward credits as being a big influence in England’s 2003 rugby union World Cup victory. The Bolton squad are offered massages, t’ai chi, yoga and Pilates. Some, though, wonder whether his approach is gimmicky and question why he has such a large backroom staff (17 at the last count).
This, though, might just be the normal friction created around match days. ‘Steve McClaren told me that Sam is the most popular manager among managers,’ says Walters. ‘They like him because he’s very straightforward.’
Whether his choice of agent will make any difference to the FA’s top executives remains to be seen. Allardyce does not need any speculation, but it will not prevent him being able to convince Barwick, or indeed Newcastle, that he has the abilities to take on a high-profile job. ‘He is an old-fashioned manager at the same time as being a guy very open to new ideas,’ says Walters. ‘Very unusual. Bolton had ProZone before the England rugby team did – that’s how Clive Woodward latched on to it.’ Does he believe Allardyce’s flexibility is natural? ‘No. Woodward as always been a bit wacky. Sam has trained himself. I think if you asked him he would say he’s just good at adapting.’