The Thundercliffe Files: Is the Hollo-way the right way?

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

3 January 2020

Ian Holloway is the first big name manager we have had since Lennie Lawrence, but - having paid to be appointed - he could be just what we need.

Thundercliffe Files

The last big-name experienced manager town appointed was Lennie Lawrence. After Alan Buckley was unceremoniously sacked two games into the 2000-01 season, Lawrence was named boss and given the ITV Digital cash that ultimately proved a mirage. The similarities with Ian Holloway are palpable - both managers in their 50s, over 900 games as a boss, two teams managed in the top flight – although I don’t remember the buzz quite being the same 20 years ago.

Obtaining the services of Holloway can be seen as something of a coup for Town. His experience and knowledge of the game will be vital. Known for blooding youngsters and for a progressive, attacking style, Holloway will mentally toughen up his players, improving their self-belief as well as their footballing technique.

At Blackpool he created new heroes. He posted pictures of the current crop alongside their legends and it worked, making that team the most unfashionable to enter the top-flight. They almost stayed there too, relegated on 39 points which would have kept them up on all but three of the past 24 seasons.

He’s known for his no-holds-barred approach to post-match interviews. I've been frustrated with Jolley's and Limbrick's anodyne after-match analysis, so Holloway stating we were "dull" for most of the Salford game, "lucky" when they missed that sitter, and then calling Rose's winner "scruffy" will do me. I want my managers to see the same game as I see.

It is quite incredible for a new manager to pay to be appointed but that's what has happened. It gives Holloway some security and hopefully it gives us somebody who knows what they are talking about at the top table

Truth is, had Limbrick squeaked a win in any of his caretaker matches, Holloway would still be doing his lucrative media work and after-dinner speaking ("£2.5k - £3.5k a pop – we couldn't compete with that" – John Fenty). Fenty was always looking for the cheapest option and, having met up with Holloway, waited two weeks before the deal was struck.

Holloway has mentioned this a couple of times, and you wonder what impact Holloway’s £100,000 investment had. It seems quite incredible for any new manager to actually pay to become appointed but that's what has happened. Of course it gives Holloway some security but what it hopefully gives Town fans is somebody who knows what they are talking about at the top table.

You cannot see Holloway being brow-beaten at board level. He’s too good for that and will have ideas and strategies ill-placed to be kicked around like an unfriendly tyre.

It will have been Holloway that prompted the pre-match tour of the ground before the Salford match. Holloway that met fans and bought calendars and other merchandise. Holloway that added 800 to the gate (£15 thousand in match receipts, another £2 thousand in merchandise and catering?). Fenty might say he "knows Ollie" but he wouldn't have envisaged the impact the appointment – made almost be accident – has had.

Could Holloway have the same impact as the Cowleys at Lincoln? Possibly. With the right level of strategic planning and thinking, with the right attitude to treat the fans as people, and with the correct approach to all the staff, then maybe we have a chance of progression. Holloway meeting all the staff and their families is a positive move – he understands the need to move the whole club forward and you know he’s going to treat everybody the same.

Ultimately though, it will be performances and then results that will matter. Holloway's overall win percentage is a shade below Buckley. The fact he’s name-checked Alan and shared a moment the other day hasn't gone unnoticed by fans of a certain vintage. Undertsanding the fabric of the club will help him and us.

Lawrence's legacy? That was a day at the top of the second flight and the win at Anfield, alongside the arrival of the captain of China and Knut Anders Fostervold. Lawrence spent a lot of cash with little or no return. His win percentage of 28 per cent is not much better than Woods, Newell or Slade II.

Let us hope that Holloway is here for the long haul and the revolution is seen both on and off the football pitch.