Ian Holloway: Friendlies can be your worst enemy, Fabio

It would be much better to play trial games with young hopefuls taking on the established players
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England: plenty to talk about with this one. It was poor against France – there's no putting it any other way – but what bothers me more than the performance was why we played.

I just don't see the point of the game taking place because to me friendly matches are completely meaningless. We would be much better off having trial matches at international level.

Why doesn't Fabio Capello pick his strongest England XI against the lads he thinks might have a future in the national side?

That way you can see them in action against the ones who already have the shirt and you would get a real contest because there would be a lot at stake – one set of players trying to stay in the team, the other busting a gut to break into it.

Why should Capello have to put his reputation on the line for a game that means nothing?

All that happened the other night was the manager has come in for more stick, we've lost to our biggest enemy and made our home record a bit worse, and Liverpool are fuming because they are now without Stevie G for a few weeks.

I suppose the other side of the international coin is that people like Andy Carroll and Jay Bothroyd were no doubt delighted to get their call-ups. One of my lads at Blackpool, Stephen Crainey, got back in the Scotland team this week after six years out of it and he was chuffed to bits.

But as pleased as I am for them, is it a call-up when it's for a game that doesn't matter? Take Carroll. Is that really his chance and if so, has he blown it or not? It is hard to tell.

Newcastle work with their players a certain way and the team play a certain way. It suits Andy and he is growing in confidence all the time. He will eventually be a No 9 but as far as England are concerned, not yet.

If someone had done brilliantly on Wednesday, would the manager suddenly throw him into the team, as if it was a surprise to him and he didn't already know about that player? There is no logic behind it.

There was logic behind my 10 changes at Aston Villa that caused all the fuss the other week, and logic in the 11 changes for the West Ham game because I work with and know my squad. But I don't know what logic there is in drafting in players from God knows where, lads you haven't even tried yet.

As for the game, it was poor. We've got really good players yet when they passed it I saw them standing about and I don't like that. I didn't see France's players doing that.

Are we together? Is it a cohesive unit? I don't know what system it is that we seem to be sticking to.

I don't want to have a go at Capello because he has a very difficult job. But what I do know is that we are on a hiding to nothing in friendly games. So what's the point of having them?

I stand by my threat to resign

We have received a letter from the Premier League asking for an explanation about the 10 changes I made at Aston Villa the other week.

I am still really upset about this whole issue because I am doing the best that I can for my football club and I can't believe so much fuss has been made of it.

However, I will explain to the Premier League people exactly why I chose the team I did and I will also give them the stats for the game.

Those stats say we beat our running and passing records and had higher percentages in all areas, so how can they tell me I played a weakened team?

So I will tell them why I picked that team and I will also say to them: "Why on earth are you asking?" Now I'm not being funny. I really mean it. Why are they asking?

I have not changed my mind about resigning if they fine me. This is a matter of principle. I will utilise my squad the way I want to and if I die by my sword then so be it.

The prince dropped in to meet me yesterday

Three points and Prince William watching from the stand. It does not get much better than that.

The young fella came to watch our game with Wolves and I was honoured to be asked to go for a chat with him beforehand.

He was at Bloomfield Road with a bunch of his mates. I can't tell you exactly what I said to him apart from the fact that I had to ask him to sit down because he is so tall. I'm quite small so it was unnerving me a bit.

I gave him a team talk and told him to leave our young ladies alone if he was going out on the town that night!

But I hugely admire him and his late mother, who was one of the most inspirational people ever. It was an honour to meet him. I'm glad he had a good game to watch as well, although if I'm being honest we were maybe a little fortunate to get the points.

Mick McCarthy's team were much better than us in the first half and yet we went in at the break 2-0 up – our first goal an absolutely out-of-this-world strike from Luke Varney.

People are describing it as a big win for us but I don't understand or agree with that. Is it because we are expected to be down at the bottom and it keeps us away from Wolves? That is nonsense. Every team in this League are so dangerous and three points against Wolves is the same as three against anyone else.

I'm just so proud of how my team are acquitting themselves. We keep on getting better.

Incidentally, for those who like their lookalikes, here's a cracker. Matty Harrold, a lad I know who plays for Shrewsbury, is a dead ringer for Prince Harry. Google it! And don't say this column isn't educational.

Visiting a local school on Gary's behalf was an education in itself

Gary Parkinson remains in everyone's thoughts at Blackpool FC. He is our youth team coach who suffered a stroke a couple of months ago. He's still in a serious condition in hospital.

He is only 42 and it has been heartbreaking for all of us, and for everyone at his former clubs.

This week we went to a local school in Blackpool after I received a letter from a young pupil who said he wanted to do something to raise money for Gary and raise awareness about the victims of strokes.

I was so bowled over by the letter that I decided I would not only do my weekly press conference at the school but I would take my team there too.

That is what a local community should be all about. That young lad showed he cared about our club and in return our club showed that it cared about him.

I went in at dinnertime and was still there at 5pm. I have never had so many people wanting a chat and asking for my autograph before and it was an absolute privilege to be there and to meet those youngsters, who are the future of this country.

I took a couple of assemblies while I was there and enjoyed it. Someone told me I should be a teacher, but I think I already am. I try and teach my team what I want them to do, though it isn't always easy. Some of them don't listen!

But the best part of the day was the money we raised for Gary, and for others who have been struck down by a horrible condition. Gary remains at the forefront of our thoughts and we are all rooting for him.

Ray's departure was brutal

What happened to Ray Wilkins might had something to do with the Chelsea's last couple of defeats. They look like they have a hangover since he left.

There was no explanation for Ray going. It looked just brutal. At a football club every piece of the jigsaw is vital, every member of staff plays an important role. And if something isn't broken, which it clearly wasn't at Chelsea after what they achieved last season, then why try and fix it?

He is such a genuine, nice man, and surely people come before money? The players won't have liked what happened to him, that's for sure.



The chips are down up north

This week is momentous: I had chips, mushy peas and gravy for the first time! I'm convinced that gravy is what makes northerners so much tougher than southern softies like myself.

Our training ground is right by the sea and at this time of year there is an icy cold wind howling in and almost freezing us half to death.

But the strange thing is the northern lads don't seem to mind. They're just, "'Ey up, lad, let's get on w'it", whereas I'm shivering my socks off.

The only thing I can think of is that we don't have gravy with out chips down south. It must line your insides. They become so coated with gravy, it acts as a thermal layer!

So the other day the wife and I had it for the first time and it was absolutely lovely. I'm going to have it more often now and I reckon by Christmas I will barely be able to feel the cold!

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