After just three weeks of consultation, deliberation and speculation, the FA has plumped for Sam Allardyce to oversee England following the European Championships debacle in France. The task facing the 61-year-old is easily the toughest of his 25-year coaching career as he looks to return a nation floundering, despite gargantuan resources, to the summit of the sport in his highest-profile position. It's a long way removed from Premier League mid-table – where the majority of his career has been spent.
The reality is that Allardyce, despite having wafer-thin experience of managing the biggest players and egos in the game, is built for the role, having turned clubs into success stories using discipline and organisation – something England's tragic Euros 2016 campaign lacked in abundance.
He has just over six weeks to prepare himself before taking his international bow against Slovakia on 4 September, but has a number of key decisions to make first. IBTimes UK looks at the main calls Allardyce must make after being given the keys to the England machine.
New manager, new captain?
FA chief executive Martin Glenn said they do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but you wonder whether Allardyce will agree when he comes to making perhaps the contentious decision of his tenure. Wayne Rooney shows no sign of retiring from international football but his reign as skipper is directly associated with failure – a woeful last-16 exit to Iceland.
Allardyce may have only been given a two-year deal up until the 2018 World Cup, but he is surely responsible for laying the foundations for future success and that starts with the captain. Though naming a player who would automatically get into the current England team is a tough ask, there are a number of candidates. Defender Chris Smalling and midfielders Eric Dier and Dele Alli all represent the country's future and a new skipper will surely have to come from this clutch of players.
Wayne Rooney's international future
Jose Mourinho may have signalled the end of Rooney's England career when he suggested at his Manchester United unveiling that he would be used primarily as a striker for his club. Rooney was parachuted into midfield in France, a move that was largely successful, and his chances of being picked internationally won't be helped by filling that role only fleetingly for his club.
Should he be stripped of the captaincy, then he will be required to roll back the years and recapture the goalscoring form which helped him become England's leading marksman. Daniel Sturridge, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane are very much the men in possession of those berths and without the safety net of being skipper, Rooney will face an uncertain future. Arguably his best hope lies in retaining the armband.
Formation and tactics
The defining feature of Allardyce's managerial career over the last quarter of a century has been his tactical approach, described as everything from 'unfair' to '19th century'. For the teams Allardyce has managed, it has been successful, having never been relegated from the Premier League as a coach while guiding the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland away from danger.
There is an unnoticed flexibility to the way Allardyce sets up his teams. At Bolton he adopted a 4-3-3 formation, with Kevin Davies often the focal point; with West Ham he played 4-4-2 and even used a diamond midfield, while Sunderland ended last term with the trendy 5-3-2 system used by Italy at Euro 2016.
As for his way of playing, England fans should be under no illusions. "All this tippy-tappy stuff – everybody keeps going on about the right way to play football – it's all a load of b******s," he said according to FourFourTwo. "Getting the ball into the box quickly with quality is the best way forward sometimes. That's what we did in the second half [and] that's why we won".
England had neither a style of play nor a plan under Roy Hodgson, but there is no danger of that occurring with Allardyce. He will have the national team functioning; just don't expect it to be popular. It will be fascinating to see how he conforms with the England DNA, which, as outlined by the FA, means ball retention and creating an identity. Allardyce will surely argue that winning comes first.