Early Doors

Cheer up Ian Holloway

Early Doors

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In their first top-flight game for 34 years, relegation favourites Blackpool defied the odds to claim a remarkable 4-0 win at Wigan to go top of the table. For a couple of hours.

It was a day of joy for the club unparalleled since the glory days of the 1950s.

But after the game, manager Ian Holloway cut a downbeat figure, telling the BBC in his post-match interview:

"Our boys have got some fantastic spirit and we're going to need it by the end of the season to be perfectly honest ... What you want to do is not have a long bad run in this division because you can get very morose and depressed, and you can't see where your next point is coming from, let alone winning a game."

If that's what he is like after a 4-0 win, ED would hate to see him after some of the thumpings Blackpool are going to cop this season.

Holloway's words were typical of a modern game in which managers of relegation battlers refuse to reflect anything but doom and gloom until the grim slog towards 17th place is complete - Mick McCarthy refused to crack a smile last season until Wolves' safety was guaranteed.

The message is clear: we're not here to enjoy ourselves. We're here to do a job.

But since when was enjoying yourself such a crime. Come on. Lighten up a bit.

Holloway should enjoy the moment for the very reason he said: Blackpool's spell in the Premier League may very well be excruciating for long spells.

Don't Hull and Burnley fans wish they had taken the time to enjoy those heady days of success early in their Premier League tenure? It could be decades before they return.

At least savour the good times. Incidentally, Holloway said he would spend the rest of his weekend: "Going to Bath to see my kids and my wife's new dog. A little poodle called Teddy."

As ED reflected last week on a thoroughly bitter outing at the Community Shield by fans of double-winners Chelsea, football is in danger of not being fun any more.

It is either a Darwinian grind towards silverware (if you are Chelsea) or fourth bottom (if you are Blackpool). And if you succeed in your aims, you cannot be happy for any more than a nanosecond because there are future challenges to focus on.

ED is much more simpatico with the Tangerines fan interviewed on the BBC news on Saturday.

She said: "If we don't win another game for the rest of the season, it won't matter."

An admirable sentiment. Although ED wonders if the Beeb will call her up for a reassessment in March after 25 consecutive defeats?

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During the ads at half-time in the Liverpool-Arsenal game, ED and colleagues took bets on how long it would take Jamie Redknapp to describe Joe Cole as "not that sort of player".

The man from the Thomas Cook ads duly delivered in less than a sentence.

This was during the quarter-hour spell when everybody naturally assumed that Laurent Koscielny, being an Arsenal player, would be out for the rest of the season after Cole's reckless scissors tackle.

But just minutes later, the Frenchman rose from his stretcher and played another 49 minutes, albeit with an egg-sized lump on his shin, until he himself was red carded.

Cole had never been sent off before yesterday and is hardly famed for his crunching challenges, so in a way Redknapp had a point, even if the defence of his great mate was crushingly inevitable.

But it rather begs the question: who is that sort of player? The kind of footballer who deliberately sets out to maim opponents and get himself sent off?

We know Roy Keane was, because he admitted as much in his autobiography. But even Keano needed provocation from Alf Inge Haaland and 12 months stewing in his own vengeful juices.

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The opening round of the Premier League season was notable, above all, for the number of massive goalkeeping errors.

And unlike the World Cup, when the Adidas Jabulani became a catch-all excuse for blunders, nobody has blamed the ball yet.

The Nike Total 90 Tracer is the official blue-specked ball of the Premier League and was launched with the nifty slogan 'Kill the Nil' - presumably this is achieved by persuading keepers to throw the ball into their own nets a la Pepe Reina.

Also culpable were Tim Howard (pictured here at the T90 Tracer media day), Robert Green (can't really blame the ball), Manuel Almunia (ditto), Scott Carson (double ditto) and Chris Kirkland.

Perhaps those slagging off the Jabulani might care to reflect on the reality that goalkeepers don't need a dodgy ball to make mistakes.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm 30 now and understand I won't play every game. I've had a lot of injuries and don't have the pace I once had. But life evolves. I've changed my style, I'm a different type of player now and, because of that, I reckon I've still got four or five years at the top." Michael Owen almost got through that paragraph without saying anything stupid.

GET A LOAD OF THIS: We've got video highlights of all the weekend's Premier League action right here!  And we'll have goals, saves and skills of the week throughout the day.

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