IAN Holloway believes Blackpool have issued a statement of intent with their perfect Championship start – but he reckons there’s still loads to work on.
It is 20 years since the Seasiders last opened a league season with two victories – in 1991 the club went on to win promotion under the management of the late Billy Ayre.
And it is a far better start than Pool made in the Championship when Holloway first took over two years ago. Then they took only four points from their opening four fixtures before going on to win promotion to the Premier League.
It goes without saying the manager was delighted to follow up the opening night win at Hull with yesterday’s 2-1 victory over Peterborough.
Pool are third in the table – one of five clubs on maximum points – but Holloway (right) knows there is much to improve.
The boss said: “I feel very relieved to get these three points. It is a great start but we almost threw it away and we have to get out of that habit.
“Everybody wants to be successful at this club and we knew if we got a decent win we could even have gone top.
“I think it is important to make a statement that we believe in ourselves. We do, but I thought the whole occasion got to us a little and I saw a bit of nerves.”
Pool were cruising at 2-0 following a brace from Kevin Phillips. “I was delighted with Phillips,” said Holloway. “These people are invaluable. He has two goals in his first home game and that is why people like him are brilliant and so important. I think he will do it all year.”
But Holloway’s men conceded a bad goal eight minutes from the end, when Craig Cathcart misplaced a pass, leading to a nervy finale as Peterborough pressed for, and almost got, an equaliser.
Holloway added: “We shot ourselves totally in the foot by trying to overplay at a time when we didn’t need to.
“That should have been a stroll in the park and a case of, ‘When are we going to get our third goal?’ We almost had it won and they almost wriggled out, so we have a lot of work to do.”
The manager was quick to defend Cathcart. “I made sure I picked his head up straight after the game,” Holloway said.
“I told everyone else they should have told him where to pass it. If I was playing, I wouldn’t have let him hit that pass.
“What is annoying is that I tell them never to hit that pass. He missed it so badly that although it was meant for Ian Evatt, it was heading for Stephen Crainey. But other players should be telling him where to hit it.
“You have to take responsibility for being part of an 11, a throbbing energetic part of that. It isn’t just Craig – everyone has to step up to the plate.”
Holloway paid tribute to Peterborough, who are the bookies’ favourites for relegation but won their opening match against Crystal Palace and ran Pool close.
“Peterborough had a bounce about them. I watched their opening game, and it was so good I congratulated their manager Darren Ferguson before our game and I meant it,” he added.
“Some of the football they played was probably better than ours. They were sharp and looked confident.
“On the back of a great campaign last year, they have that swagger about them because they are used to winning games.
“We have to get rid of our disappointment, get some new people in and try to understand what we are doing.
“The majority of my lads know what I want already, which is why I keep picking Brett Ormerod, Keith Southern and Gary Taylor-Fletcher. They are belting lads, honest as the day is long and they know exactly how I want them to play. I can trust them with my life.”