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Holloway the hypocrite?

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The following quote is the sole reason I wanted Blackpool to be promoted last season,

To put it in gentleman’s terms if you’ve been out for a night and you’re looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they’re good looking and some weeks they’re not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi. She wasn’t the best looking lady we ended up taking home but she was very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much, let’s have a coffee “.

Up until the last couple of weeks, I’ve been a fan of Ian Holloway. Perhaps not entirely for his performance as a manager at teams such as Plymouth Argyle and Blackpool, but perhaps just for his performance in front of the camera. He came across as witty, intelligent and for me, he lightened up a game which at times can seem deadly serious.

My opinion of the man has massively soured though, and events this week have confirmed to me that perhaps Ian Holloway wasn’t the jolly football personality I thought he was.

Firstly, we have the press conference clip which was repeatedly played on Sky Sports News during Rooneygate. Here is just a clip I’ve transcribed,

…”throws tantrums, don’t try, don’t play, and somebody has already said to him, ‘we’ll take you, we’ll pay you some of that money we should have paid Manchester United because you’ve walked out on a free’. What are we actually saying as human beings? Is that right? Do you want to sign for a club like that, who says that to you? How do we know it hasn’t happened? The game is spoiling that. The people in charge of the game are wrong…they are so wrong this is frightening. If Alex Ferguson is being bullied by a player or an agent…how wrong is the game?””

I know Holloway was quite obviously asked for an opinion, as were many other managers in the league that week. Holloway’s vociferous response however was almost in my eyes projected as the “peoples view”, it was the sort of speech which got many football fans nodding in agreement in how terrible it was that a player could manipulate a club into doing what they wanted to.

Following their 3-2 loss away to Aston Villa, the Premier League are going to investigate as to why Blackpool fielded 10 changes to their first team squad. Holloway’s reasoned response to this? He’ll quit if they try and tell him who he can and can’t pick.

Now if this was a cup match, I’m sure that most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid at ten changes to a team. Blackpool’s first priority this season is to stay up, silverware is something which would be an added bonus but no where near a priority.

Fielding a side with so many changes for a league game though is never a wise move for a number of reasons. Last season, Wolves fielded a massively changed side against Manchester United and received a suspended £25,000 fine for doing so, setting a precedent for teams in the league and future additions to the league to note that the perceived weakening of first team squads wasn’t acceptable. A game like Villa away, although it will be always difficult, is the sort of match that Blackpool should be looking to pick up vital points from, even if it is the single point from the draw. Come the end of the season, it could be those points which are the difference between 17th and 18th place.

While I agree to a point that the FA cannot interfere with a managers role of picking the squad, the Premier League surely have no other option than to follow procedure as they did with Wolves and impose the same penalty upon Blackpool in the interest of fairness.

This is where it hits a grey area for me with Holloway. For a man who just a few weeks ago spoke about fairness in the game, and players bullying their management into decisions, surely he is being the ultimate hypocrite in now trying to bully and sway the Premier League’s decision to quit his post as Blackpool manager if they do try to punish them in the same way as Wolves and Mick McCarthy were.

The only people who will really care if Holloway steps down as manager is Holloway himself and the Blackpool fans. To everybody else, he’ll just be another out of work manager. Is it really fair to punish your own fans with pig headed stubbornness over a point which he can’t really win?

If it really comes down to it, will he really throw away the chance to secure Blackpool’s Premier League survival over an argument with the FA? Does it really matter that much in comparison to the chance to seal himself as a truly fantastic manager in the eyes of the fans of the seaside club?

Perhaps this is time for Holloway to back away a bit, to try and stop being the sound bite man. He’s done well to get Blackpool into the Premier League, but he’s at risk at making the club the “Ian Holloway show” rather than Blackpool FC. Just be gracious, accept your punishment and move on. I think football will respect you more for it.




Written by Nicole Carroll

November 11, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Do they have a Gab-up plan?

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This was pointed out to me by a friend earlier, but it has had me wondering all night.

Earlier this week, reports in the local press reported that Agbonlahor would not be featuring in this weekends derby match, as he has failed to recover sufficiently from a routine operation at the start of the month. The report from the Birmingham Post is here

However, Talksport this morning spoke toa bookmaker about this match and as favourite for first goal scorer is Mr Agbonlahor.

As of 19:39 Friday 29th, here are the screencaps from a couple of bookies websites:


William Hill:

Ladbrokes: Agbonlahor 9/2

Paddypower: Agbonlahor 11/2

Coral: Not offering Agbonlahor for first goal scorer market

Perhaps I’m reading into this too much, but if he is 100% out of this weekends match, then why would bookmakers have such short odds on him being the first goal scorer. It’s a multi million pound market and football odds will be carefully calculated, otherwise bookmakers wouldn’t be able to make so much money off football betting.

So, do they know something we don’t and may Gabby somehow feature in the Halloween fixture, or have the bookies overlooked the fact he isn’t playing, considering they also give prices for Cameron Jerome as first goal scorer. (I am also presuming here that injury will prevent any him part of the action aswell)

I know someone will be along on twitter with a full explanation of why this is, but I thought it was interesting to point out anyway.

I’m intrigued. All will be revealed in less than 48 hours…

Written by Nicole Carroll

October 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Posted in Premier League

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Christmas is coming, and all I see is tat…

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With the Liverpool ownership saga overshadowing the up coming events of this weeks Premier League outings, I’m finding it hard to talk about our away trip to That London in the visit to Arsenal, so I’m throwing myself a curve ball and looking at off the field matters.

My family are  all Blues fans, we make no attempts to cover this up. It also makes it surprisingly easy to shop for my Blues loving relatives, as anything with the famous ball and world logo makes a present instantly fantastic.

I’m struggling this year though. I know that it is only October and many people hate talking about the dirty C word this early, but I’m an organised lady. I’m the sort of girl who likes to have all the presents wrapped up by the second week of November, so the run up to Christmas can be filled with drinking copious amounts of Baileys and enjoying the delights of Birmingham’s German market (big cookies, pretzels, doughnuts – yes please).

So, in my pursuit in finding something worthy to be bestowed on my family members, I’ve taken to surfing the club shop website but to be honest, I’m disappointed. More than disappointed in fact – it’s just, well the best word for it is probably naff.

Once you get past the replica kits, there seems to be a lack of clothes which are suitable, or even stuff that most people will wear.

T-shirts with polaroid designs on the front. Old fashioned polo shirts.  Jumpers which don’t seem to come in any other option than “chav striped”.

When you get past the clothing, it seems to get worse however. Novelty dog name plates. Door signs. Lampshade covers. Gold plated jewellery.

It just disappoints me so much, because with a captive audience of Blues fans, we could be doing it so much better. However, I do have to ask myself, what do football fans really want to see in their own club shops? I’m not really sure if I can answer that.

The problem is, that unlike other retail establishments, Blues have a range of ages to cater for, a range of different tastes and both male and females to try and entice with their wears. You have the young male supporters, who are usually adorned in designer brands, to try and tempt away from their logo’d attire, as well as the normal bloke on the street who just wants something to wear that represents his club at the same time.

Blues are never going to get it right, but perhaps a new philosophy should be brought to merchendising our own club shop.

Personally, if I’m going to offer up a suggestion, is for fewer ranges with some better quality pieces. Nice plain jumpers for men with a small Blues logo – nothing tacky, something you could wear over a shirt and not instantly recognise it’s a piece of official merchandise.

If Blues are going to sell jewellery, such as the gold pendants that many fans choose to wear, then why not form links with local businesses to supply good quality jewellery through the club shop. With a club so close to the Jewellery Quarter, then surely something could be sorted so fans have the chance to buy real gold pendants, and for the club to benefit from this, as well as forming good links with local jewellers?

A lot of people won’t see my point, but I think that if Blues want to push forwards and present themselves well to potential foreign fans, that any online club shop needs to be of a quality that matches a Premier League club.

Here’s my question though: Do you know of any club that produce a good standard of club memorabilia? Does it really matter? Comments below as usual


Written by Nicole Carroll

October 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Proceed with caution

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Sometimes, a season can seem to go wrong in the same space of time that good fruit turns to mush. This almost seems to be one of those times.

Although, on paper, we’ve had a good draw with Liverpool and have picked up a few points on the road, the statistics make us look bleak. In our last 17 Premier League matches, we’ve won twice.

Despite final day masterstrokes by the maestro that is McLeish, we haven’t found the winning formula of the “unbeatable” squad of last season. The team that never gave up, the team which almost always seemed to be able to turn a bad situation into a draw.

If anything, we’ve reverted. We’ve even shown glimpses of being exactly the opposite of the unbeatables team, letting leads slip away from our grasp as was the case against Bolton.

A lack of goals and poor performances does not a happy Blues fan make.

I think most people can fall into two camps right now. I’ll name them, the “Let’s see at Christmas gang”, and “We’ll be relegated by November tribe”.

Let’s see at Christmas followers like to see a bigger picture. They can see beyond the form and results of the early part of the season, and believe that the league table will take its shape in December and it is simply too early to call for doom and gloom tales to fall onto the club.

The ‘We’ll be relegated by December’ tribe feel that the current form will indicate how our season will pan out. On paper and on the pitch, we’re starting to struggle, and we’ll find ourselves deep in a dogged relegation battle. By the time Christmas comes, it’ll be too late to turn it around.

I hope there are a third set of fans though. The ones who are happy to proceed with caution. I think I roughly fall into this. I won’t lie – alarm bells are slowly rising in decibels in my mind, and I’m desperately hoping the next win should get us back on track to winning ways. I do recognise however, that things need to change ASAP before any sort of rot sets in.

It’s quite scary for pundits to call Birmingham a real Premier League team, but title alone means nothing. The aim at the start of the season was to stay in the Premier League for a third consecutive season and throw off the tag as a yo-yo club. McLeish has a vision for the club, and it is a Premier League vision. 17th will do for me, but we need to work for it.

Alex McLeish is the best manager to be at Blues in living memory. We have one of the best squads to adorn the St. Andrews turf. Good ingredients supposedly equal the best results. Good things come to those that wait (I hope).

Written by Nicole Carroll

October 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Positive Progress

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Another week has passed for the Premier League, and Blues are slowly but surely making progress towards that imaginery forty point marker which should guarantee us a third consecutive top flight season.

Four matches into the 09/10 season for Blues left us on 4 points, with results looking like this: LWDL, whereas four matches into this season leaves Blues 2 points better off with a record of DWDD.

With 6 points on the board, it means that Blues are now 15% towards a 40 points marker, and look to be already making progress on last seasons performances.

This shows on the like for like matches of last season. Here, I’ve tallied our results so far with the corresponding fixtures from the previous season, and it shows that as well as improving on our overall starting performance, we’ve already picked up points off teams we failed to beat last season in the same fixture.

If we can continue to pick up the extra points off those teams we may have struggled against in away fixtures last season, we could see Blues finish quite comfortably once again. However, it is early days, yet it is encouraging to see Blues making progress both on a game by game basis, and also comparatively.

Written by Nicole Carroll

September 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm


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After a somewhat disappointing draw against Bolton, it can sometimes be difficult as a Blues fan to see the wider picture and keep our eyes on the overall game plan, which is obviously staying in the Premier League for yet another season.

As a match by match feature now, I’m proud to bring you to you, the reader, the stats-o-meter. I’m hoping that it can provide happiness when things seem to be going wrong for us, or it’ll point out the doom and gloom.

Quite frighteningly, we’re already 3 games into the season. Blues current points total of 5, made up of two draws and a win, is 1 point ahead of last seasons standings after 3 matches (LWD).

In my previous article, “Has the forty point benchmark disappeared?”,  my table pointed out that the average point tally for staying up in the Premier League is 38.1 points, but for safety’s sake, it is probably useful to say that we need 40 points to feel any sort of security in this league.

With 5 points on the board, we are 12.5% of the way to earning a third successive Premier League campaign, compared to 10% of the way at the same point last season.

Here is a random comparison between this and last season: This season we have scored 6 goals in the league, compared to one goal in the same number of games during the 2009/2010 season.

Written by Nicole Carroll

August 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

The Zog Factor

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The public pursuit of one Mr Charles N’Zogbia has been almost like an elaborate game of kiss chase for Blues. Since January, Blues have fairly publically courted their admiration of the talented Wigan wingman, and he seems to be the man earmarked by McLeish to add width to what is a very narrow team.

I don’t mind public pursuits of players. It gives fans something to get excited about sometimes, a juicy name here or there generates interest. We’ve not been alone in chasing players, Manchester City, backed with financial clout, tracked and got their man James Milner.

What is starting to annoy me ever so slightly though, is the public knock backs. From what I’ve read, which I can’t is extensive, is that Wigan and their Chairman Dave Whelan have a definate price for N’Zogbia. I’ve gathered that this must be around £10 million, and after our £8 million approach was knocked back, I would have thought that with the new backing of the clubs owners, we’d of gone back in their and matched their offer.

At the end of the day, I see it a little bit like this. Some things you have to buy in your own lives, you’d class as essentials. For me, I’d class pants as an essential (although one man I dated did not class pants as an essential – I did question how he could handle wearing jeans but I digress).  Anyway, if I’m in desperate need of pants, I can shop around and see what pants I can get for my money. However, I can’t go to a shop, go to the till with the underwear I require and only offer 80% of the asking price. I could possibly negotiate, ask whether taking out a store card would allow me further discount, but essentially, I would need to pay the asking price.

After writing that all out, maybe it’s not quite the same. However, in an age where fans seem to be comparing old board to new board, is there essentially anything different in the way they are supposedly conducting transfer dealings? The old board were criticised for offering less than the asking price in an attempt to make it appear as if they were interested in a higher calibre of player. If we have the money, why don’t we enter into a negotiation with Wigan in which they will react seriously too, and where we might see N’Zogbia seriously consider a move to the Midlands.

Perhaps I’m just just reacting to new speculation that a further bid has been rejected, and maybe I should let things just play out for the next few days. In the Milner transfer, it was protracted over a number of weeks, bogged down with discussions over fees, player swaps and compensation.

With only a week to go though, messageboards will be tense as the clock starts ticking. Will the elusive wideman ever appear at St. Andrews, or will the last few days turn into the Zog Factor of massive disappointment? Watch this space.

Written by Nicole Carroll

August 25, 2010 at 10:36 pm