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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Sam Allardyce to give Sunderland much-needed stability following chaos

Sunderland have appointed Sam Allardyce as their new manager and will join the club on a two-year deal with immediate effect.

New Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce had been enjoying his sabbatical from football since leaving West Ham in May. "Big Sam" had cut a relaxed figure in his many punditry assignments following that departure, especially during an August appearance on Sky's Fantasy Football Club in which he chose to wear no socks under a pair of stylish loafers.

But a good football man cannot stay out of the game for too long, even if the job on offer has been turned down just a few months before. Allardyce was just...

 By Kevin Palmer

Memphis Depay and Kevin Strootman had to overcome a lot - mentor

Memphis Depay has spoken about the challenges he faces while at Manchester United.

They were the shining stars of the Sparta Rotterdam academy, yet the explosive temperaments of Memphis Depay and Kevin Strootman left the coach charged with honing their youthful talents questioning whether the duo would ever fulfil their potential.

Richard Grootscholten was a pivotal figure in Sparta's youth-team setup during the period when two of the best young players Dutch football has produced in recent years were learning the game.

Grootscholten, who has worked alongside Manchester United...

 By Sid Lowe

Victor Valdes living in sad exile at Manchester United

The ESPN FC crew look at Victor Valdes' difficult situation at Manchester United.

Victor Valdes says that goalkeepers are always alone, emotionally and physically distanced from their teammates.

He admits he's shy, an introvert who likes solitude, and that one of the reasons he loves windsurfing is the feeling of being out there on the sea a long way from land where no one can bother him except the occasional fish swimming past.

Yet the scene was still a sad, lonely one -- even for him -- and the message felt a little like a cry for help. Or for comprehension at least.


 By Rory Smith

Swansea, Sassuolo, Iceland bucking the 'super club' and big-nation trend

Northern Ireland qualified for the European Championships for the first time in their history with a 3-1 win over Greece.

This is football's age of the elite. With every passing year, the game grows ever more centralised, ever more hierarchical. The revenue streams of the world's most famous teams swell with television rights and merchandising deals. Every prawn sandwich sold in every executive box stretches the gap between them and the rest. The chasm is always getting a little more yawning.

Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchesters City and United, Chelsea and Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus:...

FIFA's suspension of Blatter, Platini likely motivated by upset sponsors

Relive how the story unfolded for Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and Jerome Valcke, who all received provisional 90-day suspensions.

Three of FIFA's most powerful figures find themselves with plenty of spare time following one of the most dramatic chapters of the continuing corruption saga engulfing world football's governing body.

The provisional 90-day suspensions that FIFA's Ethics Committee handed out to president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke and Union of European Football Associations president Michel Platini sent tremors through the football world.

The trio of officials, who deny any wrongdoing, will now...

 By Colin Udoh

Sunday Oliseh honeymoon over at Nigeria following first defeat

Vincent Enyeama, the Nigeria captain, has retired following a row with coach Sunday Oliseh.

DR Congo won 2-0 against Nigeria in Thursday evening's friendly to inflict a first defeat on new coach Sunday Oliseh. However, the build-up to the game was overshadowed by reports of a rift with goalkeeper and captain Vincent Enyeama, leading to the retirement of the country's record appearance holder.

Here's some things for the new coach to consider ...

Honeymoon over for Oliseh

New coaches usually enjoy a post-appointment honeymoon period with fans and media and Oliseh has been enjoying his...