When Sam Allardyce, fresh off bullshitting his way out of the England job, returned from his brief absence to the Premier League with Crystal Palace last week, we knew we were in store for a few things: hard-fought, defensively sound wins, Palace’s safety from relegation, and a handful of absurd public dustups.
Sure enough, it didn’t take but a single game to get Big Sam mad about something or other. The latest instance of Allardyce’s temper came in the aftermath of Palace’s 1-1 draw against Watford.
Palace winger Wilfried Zaha at one point was shown a yellow for what the referee deemed a dive in the penalty area. After the game, Watford’s mascot Harry the Hornet engaged in a bit of banter with Zaha, with the mascot imitating Zaha’s alleged dive by throwing himself to the ground as Zaha passed on his way off the pitch. Zaha seemed annoyed, but mostly in a good-natured way:
Allardyce was less forgiving:
“The mascot is out of order, isn’t he? If someone is diving, they don’t get that angry,” Allardyce said. “There’s contact. It wasn’t given.”
According to several national newspapers, he then suggested there might be consequences for the mascot. “That’s up to Watford to sort that out, really,” he said. “The Premier League and FA can look at that and do what they want to do. It could have made the wrong reaction, as we know. But I didn’t see it. I’m more concerned about my team, the overall performance.”
The manager also targeted the biased refs themselves:
Allardyce had no doubts Zaha should have been awarded a spot-kick. “That was a penalty,” he said. “There may be an argument that the first contact is outside the box, but it would have been difficult to judge. To get nothing at all, and Wilfried booked, is very disappointing.”
The 24-year-old Zaha has received a number of bookings for simulation in his career. Asked whether he felt Zaha was being judged on reputation, Allardyce said: “You’ll have to ask the referees, ask [referees’ chief] Mike Riley. If they are refereeing on reputation and not fact or incident, that’s a black mark against them.”
Good to have him back.