By Jack Gaughan
Yesterday Ian Holloway, in his first routine press conference as Crystal Palace manager, said it was now appropriate for him to stop talking about his legacy at Blackpool. It is time to move on. By continuingly referencing the Seasiders during the week he has given the club a modicum of respect and that is fair enough, but he is right – it is best for all that ties are now severed.
For us, following the introduction of Michael Appleton as the new boss at Bloomfield Road, we don’t actually need to hear it anymore. We don’t need Holloway’s relic lingering over the team and we don’t need his (albeit largely positive) soundbites filtering their way onto our messageboards.
The longer you think about the relationship between Holloway and the Pool, it is easy – some may say lazy – to use an Ollieism to sum the acrimony up. Holloway was the girlfriend you had invested time, (a bit of) money and more importantly, love in. It became bloody serious – she moved in after three years – but the lads eyeing her up at the end of the bar would not go away. Whoever bought her a Maria L’Orange rather than the usual half a lager was always going to prize her away.
It is what it is. Blame whoever you wish – Karl Oyston, Ollie, or both – but nothing can be changed.
Feelings are still there, though. ‘I have a lot of love for that place [Blackpool], it has put me back on the map,’ Holloway said.
We thank you, but a week has now passed, and that is that.
There is a massive game going on at Bloomfield Road tomorrow afternoon – the biggest so far this season – with Appleton`s first game against Bolton Wanderers.
The new manager has already labelled the creaky back four as an area he really needs to improve quickly, but states that he won’t be changing the style of play synonymous with the Blackpool side of the last few years, just altering imperfections here and there.
‘Obviously I’ll be taking the opportunity to tweak a few different things. I’m sure all the players and staff would like to keep more clean sheets,’ he said.
‘But if you’re scoring more than the opposition, that’s all that counts. I certainly won’t be making massive changes to the way the team plays.
‘I’ve been brought up playing passing, attacking football. The philosophy won`t be different.’
A no-nonsense character, Appleton should also instil a new steel and hunger to win rugged games of football which, for all the attacking talent on display tomorrow from both sides, will be a key factor against Dougie Freedman’s Bolton.
Another part of the game he is looking to change is the inconsistency factor currently holding Pool back from a promotion bid – another problem under Holloway, who had admitted that he lost ‘m’jiggle’ in the last few months at Squires Gate. Perhaps now Appleton will have the players training more than a couple of times a week.
‘The biggest thing for us will be consistency, though I know that’s a bit of a cliché,’ he said. ‘You have to put consistent performances in every single week.
‘In the Championship you can go through six games unbeaten, but then the next thing you know you lose five or six and that’s what’s happened here.
‘But I’ve been promoted from this league twice as a coach and as a player, so I know what it takes to get out of this division – that’s important. With one or two additions in January, we’ll be looking to push on back towards that.’
Whether he gets those additions in January remains to be seen – knowing Oyston he probably will be handed some initial money – but Appleton is saying the right things, is a driven individual and wants to play attractive football alongside a solid spine. This could be the start of Blackpool becoming a really good side, rather than the exciting, but ultimately flawed gung-ho, merchants served up in recent times. Score four or bust may not be the only way to play, after all.
Comment: Holloway moves on – now we can too
By Jack Gaughan