Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's newspapers.

1. Newt or Mitt? Both know where abroad is (Times) (£)

Bill Emmott says that the slow grind of the US primary system helps serious candidates. The presidential election will be a real contest.

2. Dull, dithering Romney clings on (Financial Times)

For the Anyone-But-Gingrich crowd, he is still the favourite, says Edward Luce.

3. Excitement is guaranteed as Newt Gingrich reaches for the stars (Daily Telegraph)

The former Speaker of the House's victory in the South Carolina primary has breathed new life into the Republican race, says Anne Applebaum.

4. Those who would murder Rushdie will never learn (Independent)

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown argues that Muslims must begin to see that minds need to be liberated if political freedom is to transform their lives.

5. Housing benefit cap: can you live on 62p a day? (Guardian)

The housing benefit cap will mainly hit stable families on low incomes. Surely this can't be what George Osborne wanted, says Tim Leunig.

6. When the people can see what fairness is, why can't Miliband? (Independent)

Mary Ann Sieghart writes that at the last election, many Labour supporters stayed at home because they were angry about the party's position on welfare.

7. Boko Haram is Nigeria's enemy (Guardian)

Nigeria's bloody violence isn't about religious division, says Chika Unigwe -- it stems from one extremist group: Boko Haram.

8. IMF should stay out of the eurozone crisis (Financial Times)

Wolfgang Munchau argues that Eurozone bail-out involvement is not justified.

9. The return of the Great American gas guzzler (Times) (£)

The US will be energy self-sufficient by 2030, freeing itself from the clutches of Opec, says Carl Mortished.

It's time to end the failed war on drugs (Daily Telegraph)

Treating addicts as criminals has done absolutely nothing to address this crisis, writes Sir Richard Branson.

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Goodbye, Sam Allardyce: a grim portrait of national service

In being brought down by a newspaper sting, the former England manager joins a hall of infamy. 

It took the best part of 17 years for Glenn Hoddle’s reputation to recover from losing the England job.

Between leaving his job as manager in February 1999 and re-surfacing as a television pundit on ITV during the 2014 World Cup, Hoddle was English football’s great pariah. Thanks to his belief in faith healer Eileen Drewery and a string of unconventional and unacceptable views on reincarnation, he found himself in exile following in a newspaper interview during qualification for England’s Euro 2000 campaign.

But just as Hoddle is now cautiously being welcomed back to the bosom of English football, current incumbent Sam Allardyce has felt the axe fall. After less than two months in charge of the national side and with only a single game under his belt, the former Bolton Wanderers manager was caught up in a sting operation by the Daily Telegraph — allegedly offering guidance on how to circumvent his employer’s rules on third-party player ownership.

The rewards for guiding an English team to major international success promise to be spectacular. As a result, the price for any failure — either moral or performance-related — is extreme.

Hoddle’s successor – the endearing Kevin Keegan – resigned tearfully in a toilet at Wembley after a tumultuous 18-month spell in charge. His replacement, the laconic Sven-Göran Eriksson, provided moments of on-field excitement paired with incredible incidents of personal indiscretion. His tangle with "fake sheikh" Mazher Mahmood in the run up to the 2006 World Cup – an incident with haunting parallels to Allardyce’s current predicament – led to a mutual separation that summer.

Steve McClaren was hapless, if also incredibly unfortunate, and was dispatched from the top job in little over a year. Fabio Capello – who inspired so much optimism throughout his first two years in charge – proved himself incapable of lifting the hex on English major tournament fortunes.

The Italian’s star was falling from the moment he put his name to the oddly timed Capello Index in 2010, although his sustained backing of then captain John Terry over a string of personal misdemeanours would prove to be the misjudgement that ultimately forced his exit. As Allardyce has found out, the FA has become increasingly hard on lapses in moral judgement.

English football is suffused with a strange mix of entitlement and crushing self-doubt. After a decade that has given us a Wimbledon champion, several Ashes triumphs, two Tour de France winners and eye-watering Olympic success, a breakthrough in this area has never felt further away.

In replacing Capello, Roy Hodgson — the man mocked by Allardyce during his hours supping pints with Telegraph reporters — had hoped to put a rubber stamp on a highly respectable coaching career with a spell managing his own country. But this summer’s farcical defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 put his previous career in a much harsher light.    

Allardyce was a mix of the best and worst of each of his predecessors. He was as gaffe-prone as Steve McClaren, yet as committed to football science and innovation as Hodgson or Capello. He also carried the affability of Keegan and the bulldog spirit of Terry Venables — the last man to make great strides for England at a major tournament.  

And as a result, his fall is the most heartbreaking of the lot. The unfairly decried charlatan of modern football is the same man who built a deeply underrated dynasty at Bolton before keeping Blackburn, West Ham and Sunderland afloat in the most competitive league in Europe.

And it was this hard apprenticeship that convinced the FA to defy the trendy naysayers and appoint him.

“I think we make mistakes when we are down here and our spirit has to come back and learn,” Hoddle mused at the beginning of his ill-fated 1999 interview. As the FA and Allardyce consider their exit strategy from this latest sorry mess, it’s difficult to be sure what either party will have learned.

The FA, desperately short of options could theoretically turn again to a reborn Hoddle. Allardyce, on the other hand, faces his own long exile. 

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