No matter what happens this weekend Ian Holloway should already be a certainty for the Championship’s manager of the season award. For Blackpool to be within one victory over Bristol City of making the play-offs is a fairytale, really, and the secret of their success is Holloway. It’s a match made in heaven. A club with limited resources needs a boss who can get the absolute best from his group of players, and the Seasiders have one of the best man-managers around.
There’s a story doing the rounds at the minute about the teamtalk Holloway gave at Derby over the Christmas period using 22 teddy bears he’d bought from a local charity. Blackpool won the game, and the story sums up his style. No doubt it’s one of many many tales which the players he’s worked with can recount no matter where their careers take them.
Holloway has a perspective on life which helps him in his management – he desperately wants to win and has been genuinely hurt when it hasn’t worked out for him elsewhere, but he knows football is a game to be enjoyed. He’s a marvellous storyteller and, but his sense of humour should never be allowed to mask his abilities as a manager, and the belief he has given his players this season is incredible.
Self-belief and bravery – they are the qualities which have got Blackpool where they are. He’s gone away from home and set his team up in an attacking 4-3-3 and that approach has reaped its rewards. His record in the transfer market is impressive too – he’s used the loan system to his advantage to bring in the likes of DJ Campbell, Stephen Dobbie and Barry Bannan. And Charlie Adam must be the buy of the year at £500,000.
To outsiders Adam has almost single-handedly carried his team at times, and he’s a leading candidate for player of the year. But he’d be the first to say that without his team-mates giving him the ball in the right areas he wouldn’t have been the star of any show.
It’s 18 points from 21 for Blackpool, and just one more big performance will get them into that top six. I said last week I expected them to win their remaining games and I stand by that, though Bristol City have lost just one in eight since Keith Millen took the reins temporarily and they’re a match for anyone on their day.
The bottom line, though, is that the game means very little to the Robins and everything to their hosts. And there’ll be plenty of people inside and outside football who will hope Blackpool get the result, go through the play-offs and end up rubbing shoulders with the Premier League elite.
If that happens, it will no more than their manager deserves.
Written By Jonathan Moulds