Since my last blog post, ‘Positivity is key‘ on September 20th, Blackpool FC have won once – away at Hull City – and have only managed to pick up five points from a possible twenty-four. Back on that September day Blackpool were second in the league, had a captain, had a manager and everything looked peachy.
A lot has changed around Bloomfield Road in the past six weeks. There has been a much publicised manager merry-go-round. Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Ipswich and Crystal Palace have all been looking for new managers in that time-frame and as of November 3rd all those teams have managed to fill their vacant hot seats. Yesterday Crystal Palace appointed their new man – Blackpool’s Ian Holloway – taking over as Dougie Freedman’s replacement and half-time at Selhurst Park, Holloway was unveiled to the home fans.
It has been a turbulent few weeks for Blackpool fans and their manager. Holloway was linked with every job in the Championship and when Henning Berg was appointed Blackburn Rovers boss on Thursday morning, it appeared that Holloway would stay put at Bloomfield Road until further notice. Blackpool fans breathed a huge sigh of relief.
What we weren’t to know is that on the Thursday evening Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston and Palace co-owner Steve Parish were thrashing out a compensation package for Holloway and first-team-coach Keith Millen. Two days later Holloway and Millen had left the Lancashire seaside for South London.
The manner in which Ian Holloway left Blackpool will irk many fans. We don’t blame him for going, but jumping ship on the morning of a crucial game away to Derby County is no way to endear oneself to the fans that hold you in such high regard. However Karl Oyston played the part of the super-villain in this saga. He constantly refused to back his manager financially and has openly stated that a new training ground will be built, but nothing has yet come to fruition.
Ian Holloway was tied to a twelve month rolling contract meaning that all the control was with Oyston. A club could come in and pay the £400,000 release clause and talk to Holloway, which is exactly what Crystal Palace did.
Nobody can blame Holloway for leaving behind a chairman that shows zero ambition to the football club that he owns and runs. What Holloway did in the summer of 2010 to get the club into the Premier League will be remembered by all Blackpool fans forever, it is woven into the club’s history. However when you look back on that achievement and realize the constraints that the manager was working with, it makes that promotion look like a miracle.
The rest is history, the club were relegated on the last day of the 2010-11 season after losing to Manchester United at Old Trafford, with a points total of 39, just one point off safety. Holloway stayed and persevered with his chairman, and despite losing a host of key players that summer, Holloway re-built his squad.
That squad then went all the way to the 2012 Championship play-off final which Blackpool lost to West Ham United. Anyone would think the chairman would back his manager, after the club stumbled at the last hurdle. Just a few million pounds would have shown ambition to get back into the Premier League but Oyston refused to budge on financing Holloway’s transfer targets. Blackpool spent £250,000 this summer on new recruits. Ambition = nil.
Holloway committed to Steve Parish and co. when he signed a deal to become Palace’s manager. Palace have a highly successful youth set-up and he will relish the opportunity to get his claws into some of their prospects. Family too is an important part of his move down south. Three of Holloway’s four children now live in the nation’s capital so Holloway will be closer to his family, however he will have to sell the house he bought on the Fylde Coast only a few weeks ago.
Holloway is a Blackpool FC legend and I, like many others, thank him for the wonderful job he has done over the past three seasons. He has imprinted a style of football that is the most entertaining my club has ever played. Promotion, relegation and play-off final defeat – we’ve seen it all in the past three seasons and for that Ian Holloway leaves the club held in the highest regard. Thank you and all the best.
Written by Adam Kinder, We Are Going Up’s Blackpool blogger
Adam tweets at @adam_kinder