Big guns defend Holloway over ‘weak’ side

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson
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IAN Holloway’s fellow top-flight managers rallied to his support today, led by Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Scot’s Manchester United team provided the opposition last season when Wolves fielded what was deemed an under-strength side and were handed a suspended £25,000 fine by the Premier League.

Both Ferguson and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes this season’s new 25-man squad limit negates the need for Rule E.20 in the Premier League regulations, which states that “In every league match each participating club shall field a full-strength team” and which Blackpool were adjudged to have breached with their selection.

“You are allowed to have 25 players,” said Ferguson, who is expected to make a significant number of changes to his own starting line-up for tomorrow’s FA Cup tie at Southampton.

“They ask you to name them. They don’t ask you to name your 11 and 14 substitutes. The rules are there.”

The Seasiders only lost the match due to James Collins’ last-minute goal, and Wenger stressed: “His (Holloway’s) team was not weak because they nearly made a good result at Aston Villa. They lost in the last minute.

“I can understand why he rotated the team, because it was with close games, so I have sympathy.”

Wenger believes the 25-man squad system should mean a manager can select whatever side he likes.

“It is a rule which may be looked at, especially if you limit the squad,” the Arsenal boss said.

“If you have an unlimited squad the rule is very good.

“If you have a limited squad like it is now when you can only have 25 players, I feel this rule should go.

“Every club now has 25 top-level players who can cope with the Premier League.”

Wenger, however, did not feel Holloway’s contract situation, which sees the Blackpool manager take a percentage of any sell-on fee for a player he helped develop, would suit all coaches.

“That is down to the chairman and to the board to decide that. Personally I am not in favour of it, but if the chairman wants that and if the club agrees with that,” he said.

“I personally always tried to keep my contracts not involved in these kind of clauses because it can be misinterpreted and I never wanted that.”

Everton boss David Moyes believes Blackpool have been harshly treated in principle, but feels the level of the fine suggests the Premier League were merely undertaking an obligation to enforce rules.

“The fact is, Blackpool went into that game and gave a great account of themselves, losing in the last minute,” he said.

“I think it is harsh that a club has been fined but I think to fine them £25,000 tells me the Premier League don’t really want to fine them.

“If they did I would have thought they would fine them more than that.

“It is quite a small fine, I think it is just a slap on the wrist and saying ‘make sure you behave’.”

Carlo Ancelotti slammed the Premier League’s decision, insisting he would refuse to pay if the same happened to Chelsea.

“For me, it’s ridiculous, this fine,” the Chelsea boss said.

“Because Holloway knows very well his team, and he is able to decide which player has to play.

“I hope that Holloway doesn’t pay the fine.

“If they gave to me a fine, I don’t pay.”

Ancelotti also backed Holloway over revelations he receives a cut of transfer fees at Bloomfield Road.

“If the owner gives the possibility to do this, why not?” said the Italian, who does not enjoy a similar arrangement at Stamford Bridge.