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Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

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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