Ian Holloway: Give Sir Alex a break, he just cares too much - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

Ian Holloway: Give Sir Alex a break, he just cares too much

Five-game ban is unfair on our greatest manager – he's under so much pressure week in, week out

Harp on about Sir Alex Ferguson and his five-game ban all you like but we are missing the real issue. The FA's Respect campaign is not working and it never will because referees continue to be undermined by the TV coverage.

Do you think managers want to be talking about officials? We want them to get it right so we can talk about the game.

But refs are only human and they cannot possibly get it right without help. We already use technology in cricket, tennis and rugby. I have always said it has to be introduced in football and I think my point is being proven every week.

It doesn't even take much working out. We don't need goalline technology or whatever else Fifa are blathering on about, we need a monitor that the fourth official can watch so he can tell the referee exactly what happened.

Every big decision would be right and Sir Alex would not be spending the next five games in the stand because he wouldn't have had anything to moan about.

To say his punishment is harsh, by the way, is putting it mildly. A £30,000 fine on top of the ban is nonsense too, especially as the FA will pocket that. Why? Who are they to take that money? Give it to the people in Japan or Christchurch instead.

When I got fined earlier in the season, I asked if I could give it to the family of Gary Parkinson, our youth team coach who had a stroke, but the FA wouldn't let me.

Quite why they have hit Sir Alex so hard I'm not sure. He is the greatest manager at the greatest club and us mere mortals can't even begin to imagine the pressure he is under every single week to get results.

One day I'd like to be in a similar position, managing a club where everyone expects you to get three points in every game. But for now I couldn't bear the thought of it. It would be too much. The Premier League is such an incredibly intense level and even now, seven months into the season, I am still getting to grips with it and learning how to handle myself.

Sir Alex has been doing it for more than 20 years and has been incredibly successful. He has single-handedly ripped apart Liverpool's record of winning the most titles and it is frightening to think of how much effort he has had to put in to do that.

You have to take that into account; the fact he must care more than anyone else because he's the sole architect for his club's modern-day success.

So it is no wonder that if a referee makes an error and it costs his team, Sir Alex will speak out. He is only human. For the FA to punish him so harshly for complaining about what everyone else can see with their own eyes, I just can't understand.

I feel sorry for his staff too. I was coming out of my local Spar when a bloke leaned out of a car to say hello. It was Mike Phelan and he said he wasn't looking forward to going into work the next day because after getting hit with a five-game ban he knew what mood his boss would be in!

If the FA were trying to prove a point, they've certainly done that. But I'm not altogether sure it is fair when it wasn't Sir Alex that made a mistake in the first place.

Fabio must tell the players first

How can England be considering reinstating John Terry as skipper? Have his misdemeanours suddenly been swept under the carpet?

I don't understand how they can strip someone of the captaincy because he did something wrong, then give it back to him again. What's all that about? I'm totally confused.

The whole saga is a shambles because the captaincy issue has come out in the press before any of the players involved knew. If Fabio Capello is responsible for that then he has got it wrong big-time.

The first rule of management is always tell your players first. Even if it is something as simple as changing your starting XI from one game to the next, tell the people involved.

Rio Ferdinand has every right to be cheesed off if he's reading in the papers that he's about to be dumped. That is not the right way to do it.

Whether a player like Ferdinand, who can't seem to guarantee his fitness, should be captain is another issue. But to bring Terry back after axing him? I just don't get that at all.

The way Jacko makes me feel, I might just have to nick his statue

Memo to self: take a camera when we go to Fulham. The reason? They are unveiling a statue of Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage on the day that we play them.

I can't wait because love or loathe him, Jacko is one of those iconic figures. I've heard that some fans are grumbling about the statue, which is the idea of Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed – he was a big mate of Jackson's. But I think it is terrific.

Jacko's music will go down in history. It will be played for years to come. OK, you can't hide – to put it in footballing terms – from what he did away from the pitch. Whether that was all true or not, I don't know.

But there is no doubt he was a very special bloke and one of a handful of people I am proud to have been on the planet at the same time as.

The Beatles, Elvis, Muhammad Ali... they are the great figures of our age. David Beckham will be one day too. They are icons.

I've got a model of Ali at home, back when he was Cassius Clay, in that famous pose stood over a prostrate Sonny Liston.

I got it from a place in Wales and there were only 500 ever made. It's one of my most treasured possessions and if I could get one of Jackson, I would.

In fact when are we going to Fulham? 3 April? I'll take a little hacksaw, smuggle the statue on the team bus and take it home with me.

Mind you, what if it does go missing now? They will be straight round to my house. It's not me, Mr Fayed. I won't nick it, honest!

Thumping good time in the tub

One of the oddest moments of my life happened last week. On a freezing cold day, with the snow falling, I was sat outside half-naked.

I had gone to Scotland with my wife Kim for my birthday and the log cabin we hired by Loch Lomond had a hot tub in the garden.

We felt a bit stupid going outside in our swimming cozzies in the middle of winter but when we got in, I've got to admit it was crazily nice.

There is actually a hot tub at the house I'm renting at the moment near Burnley but I had not bothered about getting it up and running. After enjoying it so much in Scotland though, I'm going to get it sorted.

The break did me good. The people and the food in that area of Scotland are spot on and the place is so tranquil and beautiful.

Mind you, despite the fact that our training ground in Blackpool is right by the sea and the wind and rain almost blow your head off, it was still nice to get back to training. I can't be without football for too long.

Don't laugh but I want us to play like Barça

I am honestly not angry at all about conceding an equaliser three minutes into stoppage time at Blackburn. How can I be when my lads played like they did?

Once again they did me and our brilliant 5,000 travelling fans proud. Brave men can wilt at Ewood Park, but we stood strong and tried to pass the ball.

Charlie Adam scored a couple – one a brilliant free-kick – and we would have won but for what I thought was a poor decision by referee Howard Webb. He didn't award a foul right at the end when Gary Taylor-Fletcher was clearly kicked. He gave a goal-kick, Paul Robinson punted it forward and Blackburn scored their equaliser from it.

That was the only thing I was upset about... but then again our penalty was never a pen, so maybe what goes around comes around.

It is a pity we didn't win because we would have been up to 11th in the table. But if we play like that in our last eight games then we will be fine.

Seven of my squad are now off on international duty, so I'm going to take in a bit of continental football myself. I am heading to Spain to watch their Under-19 team. I want to see what they do in training because for me the way they play is the future.

People can laugh, but I want Blackpool to be like Barcelona, press the same way they do and pass the ball in the same manner.

Whatever I learn this week from the Spanish youngsters I'll put into practice when we next play at Fulham in a fortnight.

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