Red or Black - Episode 2, Ian Holloway

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Ian Holloway has had a long and distinguished career both as a player and a manager. The feisty midfielder racked up close to 600 professional appearances for clubs like, Bristol Rovers and QPR.

During his 25-year managerial career Ian has been at the helm of no less than 9 different clubs like Blackpool, Leicester City, Palace and QPR.

Watch the full episode of Red or Black below with Ian Holloway and Lord Ping as they chew the fat on all things professional football and management. 


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Are modern owners too trigger-happy to sack managers? 

I would suggest that they are over the top, anxious about their club and checking what the fans want and they make rash and knee-jerk decisions, it's crazy.

Some of the time time-spans of some managers - particularly at Watford, to use them as an example - has been absolutely crazy. Rob Edwards proved that they were wrong, because he had about nine games at Watford and then took Luton Town up by the end of the season. 

 

How can owners find the right balance with their turnover of managers? 

The most successful clubs in the history of football have rarely changed their managers, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United stick with the same thing and they keep going. You do have ups and downs, at times, but if you know what you're doing and you're consistent then the players know where they are. Nobody likes to have a feeling of being unsure. 

Chelsea are the prime example, they've got a billionaire owner that has never done it before in this country, changes the manager and changes again and bought a load of players. Players like to know where they stand with people and it's madness when you have so much changing. How can you change anything in a matter of weeks when you're a leader, it just won't work. 

 

Can clubs like Chelsea be successful by changing managers so often? 

If Chelsea kept Mourinho, they may have won even more trophies - why do they have to keep changing? I think it's a bad model. Look at the most successful clubs in my lifetime, Manchester United had the same manager for over 20 years, Arsenal likewise and everyone struggled to beat them.

If there were trigger-happy owners when Jurgen Klopp joined Liverpool - it took him four years to win anything - and now look at him.  

 

Do managers ever know when they're about to be sacked? 

It all depends on who you're working for and your relationship with them. It's getting harder and harder to have a genuine relationship with your owner because they might have chief executives and directors of football in the way.

I preferred it years ago when you could have a good chat with your owner and talk about all things rather than 'what didn't we do well', you have to have a plan of where the club is going. The players want to feel that a club is moving forward and conversations like that happen these days when you have trust with your owner.

Later on in my career, you don't always know where you stand with people. If I owned the club I'd have an idea of the direction I want to go and keep a manager there for about five years and make sure I supported them as much as I could.  

 

Has VAR made the game better? 

My late father-in-law said you cannot judge referees the way we are at the moment with the extra angles that you get on TV, it's totally unfair. Referees used to have one chance and one angle and now, we've given that chance to see more and they're not doing it very well. I don't think they understand how to do it and how to get a quick response.

What has happened to the 'clear and obvious' - how can something be 'clear and obvious' if it takes them around a minute to get a decision? In rugby, it's done brilliantly but things took 10 or 11 years to get right, and in rugby, there are natural breaks.

Whereas football is a fast-flowing game that they're slowing up and it's making it frustrating. 'Have we scored or not?' You can't keep the emotion under wraps, it takes the joy away. I believe we need to do something to give referees better angles but they're not doing it right. I think they'll get there eventually. 

The people with the cameras and the added incentive of watching each angle, Gary Linker and other pundits became the best referees in the world because they can look at things and show you what was wrong. Then on a Sunday morning, when there are games on the park taking place, people are shouting 'you're rubbish ref', we are judging them on what we see on the television, when you have all the angles, your eyes then deceive you when you don't have all of those angles.  

 

Did you have a good relationship with referees? 

You have to admit that it's difficult to get right, but without referees, there is no game. I was never very good with referees, if I didn't get what I want I wasn't always very nice.

I've always had this streak of wanting to win and in football, even the best in the world might have a 60% win rate which means they're not winning 40% of the time. You can't blame results on referees and I had a period of doing that and I got in trouble for it. 

 

Do managers have to do more to help protect the image of referees? 

I think it's really difficult for a manager, who's livelihood might be hanging in the balance of a decision and now we know that there's VAR - you don't expect them to get things like a clear handball wrong.

The laws of the game are something we have to get right, the handball rule keeps changing. The handball in the FA Cup final was heartbreaking because it was never a penalty, it was never intentional. But the rules are changing, so it was correct. The game didn't need much changing. 

What you don't want to do is to influence the opinion of anyone outside of the game and make them thing that if you've had a run-in with a referee, like Mr Mourinho, you don't want to let anyone else use that as fuel for what they want to say or do, you have to realise the importance of your place, which is to be careful of how you behave.  

 

Good Pep Guardiola have kept Blackpool in the Premier League? 

I think he could have. His knowledge of the game and how much he wants to impart that onto his team and get them to buy into him. Yes, he's got the best players in the world, but they're still drilled brilliantly.

I'd love to watch what he does with them for a week and then go off and find my own version of it. I do think he would have kept my Blackpool team up, with his knowledge. 

 

How many goals will Haaland have scored in your Blackpool team? 

I think he might have got about 45. We did create some chances. We tried to carry on what we were doing in the Championship in the Premier League.

I got something wrong at the end and kept two full-backs wide all the time and if we should have just tucked on in during the second half of the season. My team were magnificent and did us proud. Every year since, we'd have stayed up and finished 15th this year with our 39 points. And people call me lucky! 

 

How about a job swap, could you have won the Premier League with Manchester City? 

We'd play some nice football but we wouldn't be as intense as his team are. They've learned to play with the best center-forward I've ever seen in my lifetime with Haaland, his needs and wants are very different. They almost have everything now, as a team, and that's credit to the manager because he drives them.

Some of his players have a natural tendency to be a little bit lazy, sometimes, if you look at De Bryune - but he got him running, chasing and working at all times, which is amazing.  

I think Guardiola is a genius, and I don't use that word lightly. Sir Alex Ferguson is the best manager I've ever seen in my lifetime and I think that Guardiola is catching him and will usurp him in the end. 

 

How would you set up a team against a Pep Guardiola side? 

You have to try and win the ball back, but before you know it they can score - after just 12 seconds in the FA Cup final. Guardiola has a plan that he wants to work to but he can adapt and change things. In his first season, he went out and bought a £50m right-back in Kyle Walker and got him right, not just the quality of the player but also the character of the person - he's spent wisely, and the best managers do that.

His goalkeeper didn't play out initially so he got one that did and could also clear the length of the pitch if they lose the ball on the edge of the box. Guardiola has fantastic ideas of how to get through people's press, where the spare man will be and out of possession he knows how to prevent this.

We all have to work it out while he is winning things, eventually, someone will. To dominate like he has is not just down to the money, it's down to his genius as well. Anybody that doesn't see that is a little blinkered because they want to criticise him. Wherever he goes he's had to train and manage people. Hats off to him.  

 

Does the transfer market need to be regulated by something like a cost cap? 

The horse is out of the stable and he's galloped off in the field and it's a bit late to try and get him back in now - it's all a bit late. Transfer windows are obscene, particularly if you look at Chelsea's last season and what it did to their team and their club. Yes, it needs regulation but it's hard to know how that's done without starting from scratch.

Rules should have been laid down way before now. It is the craziness of it that people like. Being a football manager is like trying to manage chaos. I've never seen anything quite like it. But that's the fun of it. As long as the bosses are in control and make sure the clubs we love don't go missing and bust, I think we can all have a great time.

As a manager, the transfer window was not a good time when you step up, you get payments once and it doesn't really help enough, if you can stay there three or four times you might have a chance of catching everyone up. We have the best league in the world, but I would do things differently.  

 

What are your strangest memories of the transfer window? 

Transfer windows are an absolute nightmare from the second they open and when Jim White is doing his countdown, you're just glad when it's closed because someone is trying to steal your better players all the time and I was never in a club where we could go and buy one of those players at the time.  

My strangest memory was we once agreed on someone and I went home at about nine o'clock that night a few hours before the deadline and I thought that deal would be done. When I got in the following day, there was a totally different person was sat there.

A different player with a totally different agent as the other one fell through and I never had a conversation with my chairman about the one sat in the seat who was our new player. That didn't make sense to me. It was at Palace and Steve Parish has done well during his time there, but there you go! 

Using the loan market was what you wanted years ago and you could go to the third Thursday in March, now you have to get all your shopping done early - you don't buy fourth months' worth of milk, you go out every week! Things go stale, like a player at a club. Unless you're a club like Manchester City winning things every minute of every week, they're not going to happen. Those windows have gone but I would bring them back, but it's not going to happen. 

Being at a small club when rules change is impossible. You cannot possibly have enough players all stacked at the training ground, pay them all and then keep them happy. You need to be able to borrow one on loan or get one out on loan. Those rules need to be looked at again. 

 

Is Eberechi Eze going to be a key player for England in the future? 

I really hope he'll be a key England player - talent-wise, he's got more than enough. He's a really unusual player that floats and drifts, he's not like anybody else and he can look one way and then drift the other - like old-fashioned rugby players.

Spotting Eze was down to two members of staff at QPR. There was an under-23s game and they came running in and said 'have you seen this kid?', so I came out, put my coffee down, had a look and thought 'wow, yes!'. So we brought him to train with the first team.

He was really shy but had a lovely personality. He didn't really like defending much, but he's developing all the time and did really well at QPR and got his big move to Palace. Under Roy Hodgson, he's sparkled, he was on fire in the last few games of the season.

I hope he manages to do that for England, he has that ability that is very different and very gifted. He's a bit like Jack Grealish and how he's developed - he's now creating goals and scoring goals at Manchester City. 

  

Do you know Eze was going to be a star player when you first saw him? 

Eze can get there in the right hands with the right team. You notice the talent that someone has and not everybody uses their talent. A player could think that they look good, but what you have to get into them is what a manager is looking for and what a team needs, and how you adapt your skills.

Sir Alex Ferguson did the same thing with a young Ronaldo, who would do stepover after stepover and not get anywhere. Whereas in the end, he became one of the best players in the world.  

The second I watched Eze, I knew there was something special about how he moves and how he strikes a ball. If you have all the skill in the world, but if you're not the right person you won't be able to use it - and Eze is a fantastic kid.  

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Disclaimer: Opinion content is provided by experienced journalists and are not the views of Lord Ping

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