Ian Holloway set for talks with Crystal Palace

 

Ian Holloway was expected to hold talks with Crystal Palace today with the club confident they could secure permission from Blackpool to speak to their manager.

Palace made an official request to approach Holloway last night after deciding he was their first choice to replace Dougie Freedman, who left to assume control at Bolton last week.

Blackpool were considering their options today but it is understood the club are likely to allow Holloway to listen to Palace's proposals. The sum required to release him from his contract is thought to be about £400,000.

It is believed Holloway is ready for a fresh challenge after a successful three-and-a-half years at Blackpool, during which he led them into the Premier League for the first time in 2010.

He has rarely had much spending power at Blackpool and the chance to work with more financial freedom is likely to appeal. The capture of Holloway, 49, would be a significant coup for Palace, who are fourth in the Championship. Although Blackpool have slipped to 12th after winning only one of their past five matches, Holloway is still considered one of the best managers outside the top flight.

Since beginning his managerial career at Bristol Rovers in 1996, Holloway has had spells at Queens Park Rangers, Plymouth, Leicester and Blackpool, with the relegation he suffered with the Foxes in 2008 a rare blemish on his record. His work in his first season at Blackpool was remarkable but he also led QPR out of League One in 2004 and had them in contention for back-to-back promotions for much of the following season, when they eventually finished 11th.

Holloway is known to supporters more for his offbeat comments than for his skill as a manager, which is something that has always irritated him.

There is no doubt he is one of the most interesting characters in the game yet he is also one of the most shrewd, capable of winning promotion to the top flight with a club whose budget was dwarfed by many of their rivals.

Holloway almost repeated the trick last season, too, but his team were unlucky to be beaten in the Play-off Final by West Ham. His decision to change his preferred playing style at Blackpool was evidence of his adaptability as a manager.

For most of his career, the Bristolian's teams played in a direct fashion, yet he was inspired to alter his ways during the year he spent out of the game following his departure from Leicester.

He would surely stick to a passing game at Palace, who have some of the most talented youngsters outside the Premier League, notably the 19-year-old forward Wilfried Zaha.

Holloway's work on the training ground is astute, his ability to motivate players is well known and his heart-on-sleeve approach gives him a natural affinity with supporters. Yet his combustible nature can also make potential employers tread with care.

In January 2011, Holloway offered his resignation to chairman Karl Oyston after Blackpool were fined £25,000 by the Premier League, who deemed they had fielded a weakened team during a defeat at Aston Villa.

Holloway is rarely shy of offering his opinions and he has been a vociferous advocate of goal-line technology for some time. The transfer windows, which Holloway has labelled "ludicrous", are less popular with him.

If he were to join Palace, co-chairman Steve Parish hopes that Holloway makes headlines mainly for his team's excellent performances.

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