Holloway has to be fined, but this crazy rule has to go.

by Ian Ford

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Ian Holloway must be punished. Of that, there’s no doubt. The Blackpool boss made ten changes in Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat against Aston Villa. Six of the starting 11 had not started a game this season, two were starting their second games, and in total the 11 had 12 starts between them.

There are numerous parallels between this and the side put out by Wolves’ manager Mick McCarthy against Manchester United last season — a move, lest we forget, that resulted in the club receiving a suspended fine from the Premier League, after they deemed it to contravene their rule demanding managers always field their strongest side.

So, with this precedent, Blackpool must be similarly punished. To do anything else would bring the game into disrepute; it would mean one rule for one, and one for another. Oh, and I think Holloway is great entertainment and a credit to the game, but his threat to quit if punished is childish and hysterical and the Premier League cannot allow it to influence their decision.

But, he has a point all the same. No, not the threat to quit, but the argument behind it: namely, does the rule make any sense in the first place?

If the Premier League, rightly, is going to make clubs register players for their competition, they can’t then turn round and say those registered players can’t play. Otherwise, what is the point in having a squad?

Critics will say, well the point is to supplement the first team when there are injuries and suspensions, not to simply be drafted en masse in certain fixtures. And, certainly that is the way the Premier League sees it. But I question what right they have to determine whether a player is of the required calibre anyway.

Why? Because these things are so hard to quantify. You only have to read the blog posts and follow the debates on this site, week-in week-out, to recognise that judging players’ abilities is not a scientific thing. For example, some (myself included) believe Andy Carroll deserves an England call up for his performances this season but others, just as sincerely, believe he is by no means worthy.

What’s more, it’s hardly like bringing in so-called ‘lesser’ players simply equates to less flare or battle. Blackpool lost on Wednesday — as entertainingly as ever — but only just. I wonder, would anybody have complained had they won?  

But here’s my real gripe with the rule. Wolves were only punished because they so flagrantly violated it. Managers field weakened sides all the time; it’s just called rotation these days, especially when it’s done by the bigger clubs.

I said earlier that it can’t be one rule for one, and one for everybody else. At the moment, it’s really: one rule only applied when its violated in such a way that everybody makes a fuss.

Time for the rule to be dropped. Time for managers to be able to drop, and call up, who they wish.

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  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Mystical Mike

    what’s the difference between a weakened Arsenal side and a Blackpool side? Not much apart from quality, that’s what Holloway is basically saying, and he absolutely right on every account.

    Most teams are expected to play over 50 games this season. What’s the point of having a squad of 26 if half of them are considered weak.

    It doesn’t make sense. Good on Holloway, a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull Premier League made up of yes man with as much charisma as a second hand toilet roll

  • Lee hatch

    “Blackpool must be similarly punished” Mr ford you are a gutless yes man, grow a set and stand up and back the only man who has the balls to stand up to “The Man”

  • Luke McGee

    Lee Hatch, in principal I agree with you but the FA have to show consistency. It’s a shame, a real shame and it wouldn’t happen to a top 4 club.

  • Ian

    Lee, I hardly see how I’m a yes man given I’ve said that the rule should be scrapped. My point is what Luke gets at; in principle Holloway is right, but for him to escape censure when Wolves did not would be a terrible double standard.

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