Blackpool’s Holloway in a lose-lose situation

by Ryan Ghee

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Love him or hate him, there’s no doubt that Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has been a breath of fresh air for the Premier League this season. His straight-talking, often humorous mannerism has won him a number of fans, while others have questioned the wisdom behind his blunt approach to life among the country’s elite, especially as his comments often steal the headlines from his over-achieving players.

The image Holloway has created for himself is that he’s a man of his word, dedicated to sticking to what he believes in. His reputation is one built firmly on principles. The Charlie Adam transfer saga epitomises this. If Holloway claims that he won’t sell his captain to a “half-arsed” team like Aston Villa, who he claims made a “disgraceful” offer earlier this month, then quite simply, he will not budge.

With this approach, however, Holloway has now dug himself into a hole. In November, on the back of a 3-2 defeat at Villa Park, when asked what he would do if punished for fielding a weakened team, he replied: “I’d pack it in. I can’t work for this madness. I would resign…Let them try and fine me, it’s an absolute disgrace.”

A spur-of-the-moment, hot-headed comment you may think. Maybe not. The following day, having had time to sleep on it, he repeated his threat to walk away if Blackpool were punished.

So, today’s announcement that the Premier League has decided to fine the Tangerines £25,000 for a breach of rules B.13 and E.20 gives Holloway something of a dilemma. Can a man of his principles, one so honest and stubborn, now just backtrack and go against his own word? On the other hand, having led Blackpool into the Premier League against all odds, where they now sit comfortably in 12th place, can he really abandon the club and its fans, who clearly hold him in such high esteem?

If he chooses the former, he will preserve his dignity at the expense of his club. If it’s the latter, it will be a show a loyalty to the club with which he has worked wonders, but he will be going against his principles; something that might prove to be a step too far for a man so stuck in his ways. Whatever he chooses, Holloway will lose face. It really is a lose-lose situation.

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