Blackpool boss Ian Holloway has this week moved to quash rumours that a heated argument broke out amongst the Tangerines players and management at half-time of their 4-0 defeat to Chelsea. The Premier League new boys were already four down at the break when the alleged bust-up took place in the visitors changing room at Stamford Bridge last Sunday. Holloway has strongly denied this, although he has admitted that there was a debate over the tactics being employed and that things did get a little animated, but was quick to lay the blame at his own feet for the loss, which he put down to a failure of his game plan.
Blackpool went up against the free-scoring Premier League leaders playing an unfamiliar defensive formation and promptly shipped four first half goals as with Kalou, Drogba and Malouda (2) easily breaking through the Blackpool backline. After the break, Blackpool reverted to a more familiar formation and despite creating a few chances they were unable to make an impression on the Chelsea goal. They were at least able to stop the hosts adding to their tally as the rampant Blues laid siege to the Blackpool goal.
Holloway insisted that the reports of a dressing room bust-up were exaggerated and whilst he did confirm that there was an exchange of views, he praised his players for caring enough to speak up: “They didn’t want to produce a first half like that but unfortunately they could do nothing to stop what Chelsea did to us. They had listened to me and it didn’t go well so they thought they could say some things themselves. I soon put that right. I’ve got a proud group of lads who were smarting a bit. I had to shut them up and crack the whip a bit…I don’t blame them, if they’d have sat there and not said a word I would have thought there was something wrong with my boys.”
Although Holloway did indeed change things around at the break, he made it clear the decision to so was solely his, whilst at the same time taking full responsibility for the tactical failings in the first forty-five minutes: “For the second half I managed to calm them down, talk about what I felt, change the tactics and it worked, to some extent. I had to hold my hand up and I took full blame because I told them to do something that didn’t work at all…I will never do that again.”
Such honesty from Holloway is refreshing to hear and his immediate reaction to defend his players whilst placing the blame on himself is one that should eradicate any ill-feeling that may exist within his ranks. Without wishing to slap the usual clich