WITH no game due to the club’s international break, WILLIAM WATT sat down with Blackpool boss Ian Holloway to find out what’s on his mind.
THERE are certain things in life that just wind you up.
In Ian Holloway’s case, it’s a tag he’s had to carry through his whole managerial career so far – the joker.
Type the Blackpool manager’s name into You Tube and you’re faced with almost 2,000 video clips, many showing a one-liner or funny moment from the past decade.
But a word of advice to anyone who crosses his path any time soon – don’t tell him he’s funny.
Holloway will be the first to admit he maybe brought it on himself in the early days, with some of his interviews when managing QPR and Plymouth having given him legendary status among the viewers of Sky’s Soccer AM TV show.
But the 49-year-old has changed.
And after a year in football’s wilderness after being sacked by Leicester, he decided to let his teams do the talking.
“I hear the joker line over and over again, and it infuriates me,” Holloway said.
“People show things on You Tube and things, and good luck to them.
“I had a year out of the game and I did a lot of thinking, and studying of the game.
“I try to manage in a fair way, a serious way and I try to enjoy myself, but that doesn’t make me a joker.”
During his time at Blackpool, he’s gone a long way to making headlines for all the right reasons.
He turned a relegation-threatened squad into play-off winners, almost avoided relegation from the Premier League, and then re-built a side which went so close to a top flight return last season.
Despite all that, he is continuously overlooked when managerial jobs come up.
West Ham, West Brom, Norwich, Birmingham, Swansea and now Blackburn are all clubs who, on paper, should have been banging Holloway’s door down.
But his reputation means they won’t touch him, and he’s not one to be concerned in the slightest.
He said: “In my position you can’t worry what people think.
“I’m learning from my Chairman, he never worries what other people think, he only worries about what he thinks.
“Sometimes he’s so stubborn he thinks he’s right, when he maybe be wrong, but what a wonderful place to be in.
“But I’m learning from that.”
Blackpool’s success under Holloway has been built on belief and hard work, and it’s a good job.
When he arrived at Bloomfield Road, the stadium had two stands, and the words Premier League had never been mentioned, let alone dreamt about.
“Our club message is all about being straight, doing it right, and being honest,” Holloway said.
“We all put in a good day’s work and work bloomin’ hard.
“These values have to be carried through.
“I think I’ve been late three times in my life, but the other day I was late for the coach.
“The door from the hotel to the ground was locked, and I couldn’t open it.
“I left it so late, because I was living on site.
“I should have already been there and I learnt a lesson from that.
“My lads fined me £100, which I think is unbelievably harsh.
“Stephen Crainey wrote my fine on the board, and I’m going to have a word with him.
“Don’t be surprised if he’s not in the team if that’s what he thinks I should be fined!”
Holloway’s CV always suggested he’d make a decent manager.
Despite being modest about his playing career, he made more than 600 league appearances with seven clubs, and played in the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers.
In 1996 he took up the job as player manager at his beloved Bristol Rovers.
And he believes his experience helps him keep a level head in his role at Blackpool.
He said: “There will be good days, bad days, but I’ll try and stay the same.
“And the boys have got to trust that.
“I have to be honest, I could not be prouder of the way we go about things at this football club.
“It’s important for me to say that.
“A mate of mine who works for the PFA came to see me the other day and said: ‘This is the worst training ground I’ve ever seen.’ I replied: ‘This is the best it’s ever been.’
“I didn’t take that in the wrong way, I took it as a compliment.
“We’ve got to make the best of what we’ve got here.
“Maybe I’m biased, but I don’t think there’s any other football club that you can point your stick at who’s had a go at it like we have.
“I think Norwich have done well when they went up two divisions and stayed up last year.
“But we’ve had a go, we’ll always have a go, I wouldn’t want my sides to play any other way.
“Having a go is what my career is all about, and I’ll do it until the day I retire.”
There’s never been a dull moment at Blackpool for Holloway, but talking to him you get the feeling he’s got no intention of his love affair with the club ending soon.
This week, he has moved into a house in Lytham, and is once again talking glowingly about the future.
“I’m realistic about where we are, but I want to keep moving forward.
“I’m even more determined to be a success.
“There’s something special about this club, it seems to just fit me perfectly.
“I’ll keep going, I believe in what we are doing, and we won’t stop working hard.
“If we keep doing that, who knows where we’ll end up.”