The Holloway Factor
If you are to believe some people, there are two groups of Blackpool fans: the Tangerine Tinted Specs brigade, and the Doom and Gloomers. The TTS' will always try and see the positive in a situation whatever the circumstances, whilst the D and G ers will use any opportunity to moan, even if everything is rosey in the Seasiders' garden.
I don't think I fit into either of these groups. I've always seen myself as a happy medium: always trying to be positive, but trying to see both sides of the argument at the same time. I'm not afraid of giving constructive criticism when others think all is well, but at the same time, I try and see the chink of light at the end of the tunnel when perhaps others are staring into a bottomless pit.
Yes, I get caught up in the emotional side of the game just as everyone else does, but I find that it always pays to take a step back and consider all angles before offering my opinion.
The international break has given me chance to collect my thoughts and consider Ian Holloway's first few months in charge at Bloomfield Road.
My verdict? A very promising start, but one swallow does not make a summer. There is still lots of hard work to be done, lots of hard work.
Unlike my fellow Co-Ed, I did not see Holloway as the 'messiah' when he arrived. I still don't. I stick to my opinion from then: that it'll either end in broad grins, smiles and laughter (probably from Ollie's interviews!), or it'll end in tears.
Yes, Holloway is a brilliant character, but his track record as a manager has been up and down more times than the proverbial rollercoaster.
He did ok at both Bristol Rovers and QPR, brilliantly at Plymouth, but failed abysmally at Leicester.
Holloway says that he has learned his lesson from his experience at Leicester, and there are certainly signs that he has honed and fine tuned his skills in some areas.
The new formation he has implemented seems to be working very nicely (at least at home), and the signings that he has made have certainly improved the team without seemingly upsetting the apple cart.
One of my concerns when he took over was that he might disrupt the team spirit that has been so important to our progress in recent times. The early signs are that he hasn't, but whether he can keep that spirit going in the long run as he presumably implements more changes remains to be seen.
He's stamped his ambition over the club: he's not prepared to settle for second best, perhaps scarred by events at Plymouth where the team that he built was gutted. He's been granted unprecendented access to transfer funds by Valery Belokon, but how much there is left in the kitty and what would happen if bigger clubs started making offers for our players remains to be seen - would Ollie sit and watch another team of his be sold under his nose? I doubt it.
I imagine that Ollie still has funds to play with come January, largely because the fees for Neal Eardley and Charlie Adam will be covered by what was brought in by the sale of Shaun Barker (still a cracking piece of business by us I feel) in the long run.
Hopefully he'll use those funds to at least attract the pacey striker that we're crying out for. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: a striker with pace, capable of bagging us close to 20 goals a season could well be the difference a good season and a brilliant one.
I also think that we need a centre half and a right winger as well. I imagine that we'll make moves for Barnet's Albert Adomah again come the New Year, whilst if we could coax Marcel Seip from Plymouth (something that I think could be very possible seeing as he's been given permission to play against his parent club on Saturday), he'd be an improvement on Barker in my eyes.
Going back to the point about Ollie not being prepared to settle for second best however, this extends to off the field issues as well.
He flat down refused to train at Squires Gate. Other managers have moaned and moaned about the facilities there without convincing the Oystons to find another site, but this was one of the first things that Ollie did when he took over.
He also wants to improve the youth teams at the club. Does this mean that he wants to be here for the long haul? I don't know. Just the other week though, he travelled down to Crewe to meet Dario Gradi and see how he goes about business (Gradi of course having brought several great players through the ranks at Crewe). Holloway certainly has a reputation for doing a good job with younger players, but has his work cut out at the seaside, where promising youngster upon promising youngster seem to fall by the wayside.
In this aspect, he'll need to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. It is also very difficult for one man to totally transform a club, and if they do, it takes time and patience and solid foundations to build on... I'd say that Ollie is trying to build on sand at the moment. Does he have the time and patience to stick at it, especially given who the chairman is? Again, I don't know, but I just hope that he isn't trying to juggle too many balls and ends up dropping the most important one: the first team.
Speaking of the chairman, how long can he and Ollie get on? Ollie's not one to mince his words and be bullied, and I've had a nagging feeling ever since his appointment that there will be a big fall out at some point.
I'm quite wary of Ollie I have to confess. As much as his interviews amuse me, I'm very aware of the fact that at his other clubs he buttered the fans up before walking out when something bigger came along. I'm sure he's a very nice man, but I get the sense that he knows what to say rather than actually meaning what he says at times.
Perhaps his time at Leicester has changed him, and he wants to prove everyone there wrong by creating a legacy here at Blackpool? Again, I don't know. Like so much with Ollie, it's very much a case of 'wait and see'. Arguably, Blackpool could represent his last chance saloon in management, we just don't know.
One thing that I am waiting and seeing to see if he can improve is our away form. Last season we were rubbish at home and brilliant away. So far this season, we've been very good at home and pretty poor away. If we can strike some sort of balance between the two, then we're well set.
Another thing I'm waiting and seeing on is how the players react to him publically criticising them. This is something that the previous management never did, yet Holloway has already criticised two or three players in the press. I've always thought of this method as being a manager's last resort: I'd much rather words were said behind closed doors as there's less potential for upsetting the apple cart that way.
It could be that criticising the likes of Hamuer Bouazza will make the player realise that Holloway will not tolerate any slackness and that he's going to have to pull his socks up if he's to stay in the team. Again, we'll just have to wait and see.
'Wait and see' seems to be the recurring theme of this piece of editorial, so how's this for a conclusion? Before we make any firm conclusions about Ian Holloway, let's 'wait and see'... the past few months could be the preface to a thrilling and brilliant story, or the preface to a disaster. Let's 'wait and see'.