Holloway Team Selection Causes Another Storm
Ian Holloway could quite easily have an argument with an empty paper bag. Needless to say, he would have said bag in pieces of laughter, resentment and confusion by the end - much like last night's press conferences.
But it is his team selection that has got him into a spot of bother this time after he made 10 changes to the side which drew 2-2 to Everton at the weekend.
Today's quite laughable coverage of the team selection in the 3-2 defeat at Aston Villa has felt like a lot of hot air being blown around with nobody quite sure what the Premier League are going to do about Holloway's claims that he will resign if fined.
The top flight governing body are to 'investigate' (note the inverted commas) the selection, and no doubt will cite that it wasn`t fair play on Villa`s rivals, much as they did with Wolves last season who fielded a reserve side at Manchester United.
Wolves received a £25,000 suspended sentence, so you could perhaps expect a similar punishment for the Seasiders.
However, (unlike Wolves last season) many of the eleven who played last night at Villa Park were new signings trying to find their feet in the division. The likes of Dekel Keinan, Ludovic Sylvestre, Matt Phillips and David Carney are arguably too good to be sitting on the bench week in week out anyway, so what constitutes fielding a weakened team instead of squad rotation?
Holloway was raging at journalists who claimed he put out a reserve team, and to be fair to him, he has every right to be angry. As he quite rightly pointed out, there were three internationals playing - a sign that Pool weren`t represented by mugs.
But the way in which Ollie articulates himself in the media continues to come into question. He may not get fined for fielding the team, but his comments afterwards towards senior journalists could land him in hot water. Actually, perhaps not: journalists don't wear a black kit and aren`t armed with a whistle; that in itself screams of the hypocrisy the Premier League conduct their business around. How are his comments last night any different to the tamer version of events a few weeks ago about refereeing decisions which led to a touchline ban?
I digress, onto the subject in hand, which could also see me level accusations of hypocrisy at the PL.
Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and the like re-jig their teams week to week and sometimes pretty severely as Blackpool did at Villa. That is labelled squad rotation and with the Seasiders actually boasting a depth of 25 fairly equal men, there should be nothing stopping Holloway also tinkering.
He admitted that he had been playing the same eleven too much and they could burn out. And Mark Hughes is in full agreement: 'Only he and his staff know the current state of his team and his players and if he feels that certain players need a rest and he could still put out a team that can compete at Premier League level - which they undoubtedly did at Villa last night - I think he's very much in his rights to do that.
'I think it'd be wrong if people start stepping in and telling managers who they should be picking.'
'They have to tread very carefully,' he continued.
'I know Ian and he's very passionate about his football club and his team.
'And if he makes a decision, I would imagine it's in the best interest of the group of players that he has. So if people on the outside want to influence that, I would say that would be incorrect.'
If fellow managers are backing you, surely even the top ego-driven top bods at the Premier League cannot sanction punishment?
I wouldn't mind if they lost 5-0. But Blackpool's 'reserve' team nearly got a draw at the mighty Aston Villa - does that say more about Villa or the lateral ignorance of Pool's playing squad from the outside? I'm inclined to think the latter.