Okocha and Diouf: Why Sam's your man

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Jay-Jay Okocha and El-Hadji Diouf have both said that they are desperate for Sam Allardyce to stay with Bolton, and by so doing could hardly have recommended their manager more strongly for the England job.

"I want him to stay with me," said Diouf here, "but you would never say no if your country needs you. He's a real good guy, a good manager. He gives you a lot of confidence on and off the pitch. I'm working hard for him. I want to win the African Nations' Cup for my people, for my family, and for him as well."

Given the problems Diouf has had with authority in the past, that is some endorsement, and he went further by comparing Allardyce's style to that of Bruno Metsu, the Frenchman who moulded Senegal's disparate talents into a team of such belief that they reached the quarter-finals of the last World Cup. "Sam is the same as Metsu," he explained. "Working hard and joking. He gives the team a lot of confidence. If you give him the maximum, he will come and see you, see if your family is OK."

Okocha similarly praised Allardyce's man-management skills. "It takes a lot to bring a club to a level that Bolton are now," he said. "He deserves credit. He knows how to get the best out of players. I would be happy to see him as England manager. It would be a big step for him but he deserves it. It would be on his merit."

The Nigeria captain dismissed any concerns that Allardyce is an overly pragmatic manager, insisting he would change his style according to circumstance. "We shouldn't forget what players are available to him," he said. "We are just trying to get the best out of what we have. We keep things simple. If he was given a good project and players who can play good football, people could expect better."