If nothing else, Ian Holloway is certainly enigmatic. Eleven months after Mick McCarthy split public opinion by making ten changes to his Wolves side that travelled to Old Trafford, the outspoken Blackpool manager chose to cull ten of the players who battled to a commendable 2-2 weekend draw against Everton.
While McCarthy was vociferous in defending his actions, Holloway has taken this to a whole new level; he has threatened to resign if the FA decide to punish him. Team selection issues aside, Blackpool were unlucky to return empty handed from Villa Park. Villa old-boy Marlon Harewood notched his fourth league goal of what is turning into an impressive season for him, before DJ Campbell looked to have earned Blackpool a point with a fortuitous 87th minute leveller – only for James Collins’ stoppage time winner to consign the Tangerines to their first defeat in three games.
The 25 man squad system will presumably protect Blackpool from punitive FA action, for the governing body to claim that any player included in Holloway’s squad is effectively not good enough to play against Aston Villa would be the height of hypocrisy. Nevertheless, they indirectly asserted as much last year when they handed Wolves a suspended £25,000 fine. One can only hope that the FA show both common sense and the leniency they have afforded Manchester United and Liverpool team selections over the years. “I’d pack in, I can’t work for this madness. I would resign” threatened Holloway (if the FA were to impose a fine upon his side).
The unpredictable Blackpool manager has been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League, his unfancied relegation favourites sit 14th, three points off the relegation places. Their relentlessly attacking style of football has reaped its rewards throughout the season, their mentality of ‘if you score four, we’ll score five’ a throwback to Kevin Keegan’s first stint as Newcastle manager. One finds it difficult to argue with Holloway when he says: “We were a credit to football, and let the Premier League try to tell me otherwise.” Whether or not the FA see it that way will soon become apparent.