Bigmouth Strikes Again
“He really believes in himself and his ability. If he was a chocolate bar, he’d be licking himself.” After just two months back in football following a season-long hiatus post Crisp Bowl, Ian Holloway seems intent on perpetuating the wacky caricature that he fashioned during managerial posts at Bristol Rovers, QPR and Plymouth. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se: at best, Holloway’s headline-grabbing ‘Ollieisms’ curry favour with the media, ever desperate for a soundbite to fill a hole in the news, and make the club, its staff and its fans feel good about themselves. Prior to his acrimonious departure from Home Park, Holloway’s ‘look-at-me’ complex, combined with some very good signings, put Argyle on course for the Play-Offs, but his impulsive desertion exposed his tub thumping loyalty as a sham and his consequent downfall left his reputation, as both a decent manager and an unswerving servant, in tatters.
Blackpool are in a similar position to where Plymouth were when Holloway joined in 2006, so it seems like a good place to build up a discredited reputation. Arguably in possession of what is currently the league’s weakest squad, which was watched by the lowest average attendance in last season’s Championship, expectations are low at Bloomfield Road and Holloway will presumably be given all the time he needs to get the Seasiders back on track. It looks like an unenviable task, though: Holloway has inherited a team bereft of its best defender, who recently completed a £900K move to quietly ambitious Derby, as well as its leading attacking threats, who have each returned to their parent clubs after loan spells. Attempts have been made to sign Charlie Adam, perhaps the best of the lot, on wages of over £10k a week but a protracted pursuit has so far proved fruitless.
The players that have been brought in on a permanent basis haven’t inspired fans to race to their computers to laud Holloway on the messageboards. Jason Euell, more vapid than rapid in two years spent on the South Coast, will nudge the squad’s average age up a touch, while Billy Clarke, never deemed to be good enough at Ipswich, has only scored goals in the basement division. Rumours of big wages on offer to Adam, and bids in the pipeline for Martyn Woolford and fellow ex-loanee Alan Gow do indicate that there’s money available, though, so it might be worth holding off putting money on the Seasiders’ demise until the end of August. If Holloway can bolster his side with three or four signings, and replicate his new team’s successful exploitation of the loan system last season, then Blackpool may defy their critics but, for the moment, it’s looking mighty grim up by the Irish Sea.