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Holloway Relishing Shot At The Big Boys

 Holloway Relishing Shot At The Big Boys

At 3pm on Saturday, Ian Holloway will settle into his place at pitch side and soak in the atmosphere of a half empty DW Stadium. He will look out onto the messy Wigan turf and see a string of Championship players plugging away on a pitch suited for rugby league. Holloway will look around and take a deep breath in and produce a broad, bubbly smile. For Holloway, this is home. He’s spent 28 years in football (13 as a manager) dreaming of being able to stand on the touchline as a Premier League manager and on August 14th, Holloway’s dream will become reality.

What he did last year begs belief. Holloway took a team of sub-average players and produced some mind-blowing attacking football, only failing to score in six games out of forty six. Holloway hired a squad made up of free transfers, loans and one marquee signing of £500,000 in Charlie Adam and unified them beautifully. He made the English press stand up and think that Holloway can actually manage teams successfully and is not just some Gloucestershire goofball who gives out iconic, yet idiotic quotes and is only good for maintaining survival.

The 47 year old has already said he will not change his ethos to attack and he will still set up his team to play free-flowing football against any opposition. Holloway said: “You won’t ever in my life in the Premier League, however long that may be, catch me standing toe to toe with someone as a boxer and just covering my face”.

‘Ollie’ also added: “I want to go to these big clubs and give them a good game but, whatever the score line, I’ll still be buzzing when we leave because I’m proud of my lads’ efforts”. The Kingswood-born gaffer has no fear. He’ll happily stand up against anybody and give out as much as he receives. Critics, including this writer, believe that Blackpool will not get into double figures and will perform worse than Derby County did in their ill-fated eleven point embarrassment in the 2007/08 season. However, Holloway has, jokingly, succumbed to the daunting challenge his team faces and said: “I was fuming at first when people said we wouldn’t get 10 points. But when I got the fixture list I said, ‘My God, where are we going to get 10 points from?’. The truth is, I can’t wait for the challenge. I’ve nothing to lose and that suits me better than having everything to lose.”

Frustration is starting to overcome Holloway, as he attempts to assemble a squad capable of challenging in the Premier League this season. He has a transfer list of around 40 players, he admits, but is having difficulty with the sudden trajectory of prices since Blackpool became a Premier League team. He exclaimed: “I feel like I’m a fella who was selling the Big Issue last week with my dog sat by me looking pretty hungry and I just picked up a winning Lottery ticket.” Producing another quote like that makes people laugh, but underneath the jovial exterior, you can see the annoyance from Holloway.

He has been used to scrimping and saving for players and carefully and astutely picking his targets, but with the Premier League status and money that is closely associated with Premier League teams, Holloway can’t bargain anymore. Holloway expects to have a few signings wrapped up in time for the first game with Mlada Boleslav midfielder Ludovic Sylvestre’s agent claiming his client is having a medical at Blackpool today. Other players rumoured with Blackpool are powerful striker Marlon Harewood and free agent Robert Koren.

Holloway has problems though. He has one scout, Billy Dearden, on his books and works with a backroom staff of four or five full time workers. Holloway recently sent Dearden to Hungary and it was the first time Dearden had ever been abroad, which shows the lack of experience within the Seasiders. Also, Holloway only has 17 players in his first team and will need to either draft in 8 new faces or bring up players from the youth team.

So, when Saturday comes, Holloway will be animated and lively as always from start to finish against Wigan, urging his boys on, feeling everything and through all the pain, heartache or triumph, he will still be in love with football and in love that he has a place at English football’s top table. However good or bad Ian Holloway’s season is going; he will always be buoyant and play his team with no fear. The rest of the Premier League can’t wait to see what comes at Bloomfield Road and neither can we.

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8 Responses to Holloway Relishing Shot At The Big Boys

  1. 50 says:

    Best of luck to the Tangerines,but it’s gonna be a long year.
    We could be talking worse than Derby 07/08.

  2. forweg says:

    Blackpool’s first game is at home, not at Wigan…

  3. Kip says:

    Bit of stereotyping going on here…

    ‘Half-empty stadium’… ‘messy Wigan pitch’… ‘sub-average players’… ‘struggle to get 10 points’.

    Give over.

    The stadium will be almost full on Saturday, the pitch will be perfect, the Blackpool players are as good as Burnley and Hull’s players following their promotion and I doubt Derby’s record will ever be broken unless PNE managed to somehow sneak up.

    You don’t get promotion out of the Championship by mistake. It takes a pretty good side. Play-off victories against Nottm Forest and Cardiff scoring 9 goals in the process compared to Hull (Watford and Bristol City – 7 goals) or Burnley (Reading and Sheffield U – 4 goals) suggest Blackpool are at least the equal of those two sides.

    Admittedly, the PL is harsh on whoever wins the play-off but a non-competititive league is the PL’s problem – not Blackpool’s.

    In a league where throwing money at every problem seems the only solution it will be nice to see if Blackpool can buck the trend and survive by adopting a different method.

    Let’s hope so.

    • Bryan Waters says:

      The pitch won’t be perfect. It has been host to the Wigan Warriors for the best part of 3 months and the rugby will have cut it up horribly. Wigan never fill out their attendance, unless they play one of the big four. Ian Holloway has even joked that he is worried where the points come from and can you tell me where the points will emerge? I’m not disrespecting Holloway and Blackpool at Championship level, but as you say, the Premier League is a different kettle of fish. They will have a long hard slog to get points and results. You can’t buck the trend of spending money, when you come to the Premier League, you have to have money in order to survive. That’s why Newcastle will stay up. Their commercial revenue, ticket sales and their previous experience will help them.

      • Kip says:

        I really hope you can buck the trend otherwise there’s no point in doing the football bit is there? We might as well compare bank balances in August and hand out the trophies there and then.

        Blackpool are trying to do something completely different – something which, even if moderately successful, could breathe new life into the stale PL. The Blackpool/Wigan game is billed in England as The Big Game on Saturday with Sky showing it as their main match in the evening and the BBC hosting a special show from Blackpool on Friday night and presenting their flagship radio coverage on Saturday live from the DW Stadium. I think your ‘also-rans’ tone is a bit misconcieved.

        Anyway, I can’t wait for Saturday -it’s like being a kid again – and I’ll happily give you a pitch and crowd report after the game. ;)

  4. Edward Sasam says:

    I think they will struggle like any new team would…

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