Holloway rumours a sure sign of success

Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway

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IAN Holloway has yet to make any public announcements about where he wants to be next season.

Then again, why should he?

The fella is Blackpool manager, and under contract to stay as Blackpool manager.

It isn’t his fault if his name is being linked left, right and centre with every job going.

Actually, that’s not quite true. There is no doubt the manager poured petrol on the flames with his comments in his final Sunday Mirror column of the season, talking at length about how he needed the powers-that-be at Bloomfield Road (ie Karl Oyston) to back him financially, and show the ambition required to get back to the Premier League.

Those remarks, coupled with Holloway’s managerial record over the last three years, are the reason the bookies made him one of the favourites for the Swansea job. And it is why, since Chris Hughton left Birmingham, his name has also been prominently mentioned for the St Andrew’s post, even though Pool’s Championship rivals remain under a transfer embargo.

Holloway deserves to be linked with other roles – if someone does an outstanding job, it is only right that their achievement is recognised.

But all the speculation is utterly irrelevant unless someone actually comes after Holloway.

That is the crux of the matter. The Pool boss is on a rolling deal, and can’t just walk away, as he would effectively have to buy himself out of his own contract.

So it comes down to a Swansea or a Birmingham asking Oyston for permission to talk to Holloway, then paying compensation – and until that happens, all the talk about the future of the most successful Seasiders manager since the 1950s is meaningless.

As it stands, Holloway is in charge at Blackpool, and if he still is come August, then despite any reservations about the way the club is run, he will have much to be optimistic about. The 49-year-old has to earn the lion’s share of the plaudits for all that has happened over the last three years – two Championship play-off finals and a year in the Premier League.

But even he admits he was fortunate to inherit a core of players who were willing to put their bodies on the line and give their all for the club.

By adding some quality and talent, the boss has been able to take the team to heights they never dreamt of reaching.

And, despite the disappointment of play-off defeat to West Ham, Holloway knows he has a good thing going at Bloomfield Road.

“The reason we have done so well and had the success we have had is because of the character we have here,” he said. “It is about the lads and also the way we are paid. We have to make up our money by being successful. It is easier to focus when it is like that.

“But you can never do something that you are not good enough to do, and our players have been outstanding. What a pity we couldn’t get over the final hurdle, but how good are they going to be as a group next year?

“We have fantastic players, an excellent blend of youth and experience, and there is a lot to look forward to.”

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If Holloway is Blackpool boss next season – and there are no signs so far to suggest he won’t be – the good news for fans is the manager intends to play the same brand of attractive, attacking football that has been such a joy to watch, and the foundation for such stunning success, in his first three years.

“I will keep my same attacking principles, even away from home, because if I lost that, I don’t think I’d be entertaining – and as a manager I think it is my job to do that,” said the boss.

“I won’t change in that respect, but what you can do is tweak the system a little, because you are always learning and always adjusting to what you’re up against.

“I am still proud of the way we attacked the Premier League.

“That was my first chance at the top division, and I wanted it so badly again this year, because I could have used the same attacking system, but just refined it slightly.

“I think the teams that stayed up this year, specifically Swansea and Norwich, drew on our strength of being brave enough to attack people and change the philosophy in the Premier League.

“You can beat these teams away from home. You haven’t got to park the bus.

“That’s what we showed people, and I am proud that teams have looked at us and thought ‘well, if Blackpool can do that, we’ll do it’.

“It is just a shame we won’t have the chance to see what we can do in the Premier League next season, because I think we were good enough as a group to get there. We just couldn’t win the one game that mattered, despite being – in my opinion – the better team on the day.”

The speculation will continue until the start of next season, and Blackpool fans will probably spend the summer nibbling their nails and fretting about someone coming in for Holloway’s services.

But do we really want the alternative? A team that finishes near the bottom of the division and has a manager wanted by no one else? No, it is a good thing that Holloway’s stock is high. So it should be – he has done a fantastic job.

Pool fans and the chairman have to accept he will be a wanted man, and – if someone else does come after him – they have to hope he decides to remain where he is and give it his best for another season.

With Holloway in charge, anything seems possible. Without him is a much more worrying and uncertain scenario.

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