In the third installment of ‘The Holloway Factor’ editor Jack Gaughan gives his take on the new boss at Bloomfield Road.
You don’t want another Holloway Factor outlining the good and bad points of Ollie’s first four months at the helm, do you?
Nah, thought not.
This dynamic boss, who seems to cover all bases, is overseeing a change in attitude at Bloomfield which just a few months ago could only be dreamed of.
Now, before I begin, I’ll admit that Ian Holloway was always my first choice to take over from Simon Grayson, so anybody expecting any kind of balanced rhetoric should click the big X now.
The big X – something Tony Parkes was given at the end of last season after his great achievement of saving The Seasiders from relegation. Not many people know the ins and outs of his departure and to be honest, that is irrelevant.
I’m personally interested in the sequence of events which elevated Ollie from just another name on a bookie sheet to the frontrunner in less than three days.
Did the club stumble across him, having possibly already having others lined up? Quite possibly. But it seems Holloway manoeuvred the situation very nicely. He was quoted as saying that he liked the fact Chairman Karl Oyston wouldn’t speak to his agent.
And thus we have the manager’s first marvellous move: compromise. The former QPR boss has always been the outspoken type in the media – which, on looking at our last three managers, we as fans (not to mention as a media source!), needed – but seems to keep his playing ships fairly tight.
At board level it is a different story. Holloway left QPR after constant rumours linking him with the Leicester job (one he would obviously take later in his career) and was treated with vicious negativity from the Plymouth board once he did finally leave for the Walkers Stadium post.
However, since his arrival at Bloomfield Road, we’ve witnessed no bickers and no squabbles with ‘them up above’. Give it time (!), I hear you scream…
I believe what we’re seeing is a complete change in the attitude of Ian Holloway after a year break from the game. He is flexible to the financial restraints put on him and more publicly demanding of his playing staff.
Has this worked so far? Who can say. Comments following the defeat away at Bristol City probably did nobody any favours (definitely not Ben Burgess and Hameur Bouazza) as the team went and lost 4-1 away to Crystal Palace just days later. It is definitely far too early to say whether outbursts berating commitment to the cause are to the detriment or aid of the squad. We will see in the coming weeks, with games against teams below us in the league.
Can he get the desired reaction, especially after two straight defeats? He can, and he will. The ability to motivate has always been something in Ollie’s locker, clearly. He’s rarely had to do it to Bouazza’s or Euell’s before though. A good judge of character will get the best out of his men; Jason Euell, after a fairly nondescript few years, is now producing the goods up front in the new look formation.
The new look formation is also something worth pointing out. At least seven first team players were playing at the beginning of last campaign under Grayson with a wooden 4-5-1 system, which saw us lose to Macclesfield and Bristol City early doors. Larry panicked, and reverted back to the tried and trusted.
The perseverance of Holloway, even after a number of draws on the trot, to stick with 4-5-1 signals belief to his players. They are only getting used to it themselves (and with two thirds of them probably not believing it to begin with after the fiasco last term) and it will take time to bed itself in.
The bedding-in process hasn’t been all that bad though, has it! One point off the playoffs after eleven games when the side aren’t even polished on who picks up which marker in various defensive open play situations and the like.
Play with no fear is the message, and a team which struggled for goals last season is now scoring fairly freely, without their main striker DJ Campbell.
It’s clear we need a frontman, I won’t bore you with that. What Holloway has done is install believe into Blackpool as a town, not just as a squad. Playing down chances of finishing in the top six, or even the top half, are right at this point (and are further evidence of his change in attitude).
Even if this relationship with Ollie and his ‘new bird’ don’t work out, he has definitely given the girl a new outfit to wear. The club is now more positive than ever and are experimenting with modern footballing values. Just phrases that anybody can throw out, I know.
So here are some facts, since Holloway’s arrival:
The club now have a license to sign a certain type of player nationality-wise which they could not before.
The training ground at Squires Gate is now not used by the first team as it was deemed unfit. We as a website are trying to find out where the club are at with locating places for a new one.
Newcastle United came and went home with tales between their legs.
Three of the hottest prospects outside the Premiership – Adam, Eardley and Bouazza – all agreed to join the club.
There is clearly something which Holloway is doing correctly. Trying to pinpoint it in an article doesn’t do justice to the infrastructural and theoretical changes ‘Pool are currently going through. For that reason alone, Holloway has made a fabulous start as the manager of Blackpool FC, and long may it continue.