A TEARFUL Ian Holloway today opened his heart to The Gazette admitting: “I just didn’t feel I was the man anymore.”
The 49-year-old quit his job as Blackpool boss on Saturday to take up the vacant manager’s role at Championship rivals Crystal Palace.
He said: “I need to believe I’m moving forward and I need to believe that I can keep marching things forward. Truthfully speaking, I’m not sure I felt I could do that anymore.”
He also admitted his ongoing frustrations over his contract as Blackpool manager was part of the reason why he quit the club.
Holloway was on what’s known as a rolling contract, which basically never runs out. It means at any time, he was always one-year away from being out of contract.
And, after signing a four-and-a-half year deal at Palace, he told The Gazette: “That rolling contract was just no good at my age, it was a totally dead end contract.
“I asked them to change it, and it didn’t happen. But it’s nothing to do with Karl Oyston, he’s very good at what he does.
“And I believe I’m very good at what I do.
“I feel tired. Tired of the same things, and tired of the same challenge.
“I was tired of feeling like it didn’t matter if I won or lost.
“I just need to feel the threat of getting sacked again, and having to get up, and wanting to get up. To be fair, when all the speculation was flying around, I did start thinking if it was the right time to go. Was it right to keep going?
“I don’t think I had the same buzz going in every day, I think the players could feel it.
“I don’t think I had the same fight to force things through, I don’t think I had the same positivity.
“I was desperate not to let anyone down, particularly those wonderful fans.
“I started to become paranoid about not being able to achieve what we’d achieved again.
“We won promotion in our first year, had a great year in the Premier League, then almost did it again. This season was almost an impossible task for me to pick myself up again.
“It’s nothing to do with how I am with anyone at the club, other than myself.”
Holloway arrived at Bloomfield Road in 2009 after Tony Parkes had helped keep Pool in the Championship the previous season.
He instantly caught the imagination of the Blackpool public, and eventually stunned the world of football by leading his unfancied side to the Premier League.
It was a year which will go down in history and so will the former boss.
And Holloway says leaving is something he’d never even considered in the past.
He said: “Asking to talk to another club is something I wouldn’t have dreamed about doing last summer.
“Even three weeks ago it wasn’t something I thought I was going to do. It’s just something that’s crept up on my in recent weeks. I wasn’t sure I was giving it all of me, if I’m honest.
“If that was the case, then I couldn’t carry on any more. I didn’t want the fans to think that.
“To achieve what we did, I had to give it absolutely everything I had.
“If there was a little piece missing, I couldn’t have stayed.
“I’d have been wrong to stay, I’d have only let them down even more.
“The Charlton game in particular made me think. I got stick from one bloke, it’s only one bloke, but it made me see the worst possible scenario in my mind. It made me paranoid that what if I stayed too long?
“I didn’t want it going that way.”
Holloway stopped short of criticising chairman Karl Oyston, but hinted that it was never an easy task being Blackpool boss.
He’s publicly talked about the battle he faced to sign players and was gutted to miss out on the signing of DJ Campbell last month.
He added: “Sometimes it was just so draining at Blackpool. I don’t mean that as a dig at Karl, I have a fantastic relationship with him.
“Karl had actually agreed something in the summer which was actually more than what Palace have given me. But it wasn’t in the way I wanted.
“It wasn’t in the way that gave me a challenge.
“Blackpool couldn’t give me what the owners of Crystal Palace could give me.
“The people at Palace took their club out of administration, every one of them is a fan.
“They don’t think about anything else about the football club and their players.
“When they spoke to me about Zaha and Bolasie and their young lads, it just started to pump up my energy again.
“I can’t describe it, I just needed a new, fresh, challenge.”
After weeks of speculation about his future, Crystal Palace finally made their move on Thursday night.
Holloway took training on Friday, picked his team and told his players he’d be in charge the following day.
He travelled to London later that evening, before he accepted the Selhurst Park job the following morning at around 10:30am.
It gave assistant manager Steve Thompson only three hours notice for the game at Derby, which they eventually lost 4-1.
And Holloway revealed he regrets how things happened.
“I wish I hadn’t left Thommo the way I did on Saturday,” he said. “I couldn’t say a definite cheerio to the team and I couldn’t say goodbye to them.
“I didn’t know it was going to go like it did on Friday evening. Those people just blew me away from Palace.
“Karl knew that I was going down there, able to go back to Derby and take the game, and I told my players that.
“That left Thommo in the lurch.
“I’m sure now the dust has settled that he’ll get them all going on Tuesday.
“At first I thought if I spoke to someone else, it might have shaken the chairman into changing my contract like I asked him to in the summer, but then Palace blew me away.
“I felt too comfortable, which is not what I want to feel at my age. I’ve been thinking about it all night.
“It’s really important the fans understand how I am.
“It’s nothing to do with Karl Oyston or Steve Thompson, it’s about me and how I feel about the job I had to do.
“Having a grandchild due in 11 weeks time, four hours away from me, also played a huge part.
“We were constantly thinking about how far away we were from our family.”
While he may have constantly battled over a number of issues at Bloomfield Road, Holloway had a brilliant relationship with Blackpool’s fans.
And he became emotional as he spoke of his admiration for the supporters. I’ve been crying about it, it’s horrible,” Holloway said. “People don’t understand, it all becomes a huge part of our lives. I want those fans to understand. I feel like I’ve betrayed them. But I have to move on in my own life.
“I hope one day the fans realise how much I cared, and how much I still cared.
“But I just didn’t think if I’d have stayed, that I’d have cared as much as I needed to do drag us there again.
“The fans completely bought in to everything I was saying.
“They bought into the way we tried to play, and the players who were doing it for them.
“The last thing I wanted to do was not succeed again for the fans. I have never ever known so much be owed to so many by so few. The players were absolutely first class, on and off the field. I don’t want those players to stop.
“Those people at Blackpool will be in my life and in my heart forever more.
“I just can’t thank them all enough for what they’ve done for me and my family.”