Ian Holloway: I told the lads 'go and have a few beers' – I threatened to fine them if they didn't

My final team talk will be off the cuff. I sense the mood, take it from there

Last Sunday

We've been beaten 3-0 at Fulham and I'm not in the best of moods. Having to sit on a coach for a five-hour trip back to Blackpool isn't ideal. Unfortunately, losing games is an occupational hazard in this job.

We did some things right at Craven Cottage but most of it was wrong, mainly the fact we forgot to go forward. Football is quite simple. You have to stick the ball in the other team's net but we didn't really get close enough to do that.

I blame myself because I spent all last week talking about my trip to Spain and how I wanted us to play like Barcelona. I tried something different in training but unfortunately that got the players into the habit of passing the ball short, to the extent that we barely hit any long passes. We got caught between two styles. I take the rap, I confused them.

I was quieter than usual on the journey home, reflecting with my assistant Steve Thompson on what went wrong. When we got back, I jumped in my car and headed to my house near Burnley. Match of the Day 2 and bed. Not a good day.


The players had the day off. I hope they spent at least an hour watching DVDs of our promotion season last year. I asked them to do that to remind them of how well we can play and what it is like to win.

I watched the Fulham game again twice. I don't watch it like a fan, I see it from a coach's point of view. Sometimes I put it on slow motion so I can write down where we're going wrong. Other times I won't be watching the ball at all, I'll be looking at our shape and movement, to check everyone is going in the right direction at the same time.

I then gave myself a break...by watching more football. QPR were on, and being a former manager, I still have a lot of love for that club. I am delighted they are doing so well and watching their substitutes laughing made me think of last season. Winning is a nice habit to get into. We need it back.

The Fulham game was still bothering me so I watched it again. I don't think my wife Kim was impressed, especially as I didn't go to bed till 2.30am. Even then I didn't sleep well. It's hard when you're worrying about your team and mulling over how to do things differently.


I was tired after a late night but up again at 7am to go to training. The lads look at me as a leader, so I have to be positive. They were all getting ready to go out when I told them to take their strappings off and sit down. I decided to have a meeting to go through what I felt was wrong at Fulham. I talked through things and it was serious because we needed to concentrate on putting things right.

But when you are dealing with players, it is important not to get too heavy. I like to keep things light when I can and we had a few laughs too. I told James Beattie he would be playing left wing for the reserves until the end of the season for that beauty of a pass which put Bobby Zamora through at Fulham! Beattie is a great lad who knew he'd made a mistake.

Spoke to the local paper, the Blackpool Gazette, about doing a front-page piece urging the supporters to get behind us for the rest of the season. It applies more to the three matches after Arsenal – all at home, against Wigan, Newcastle and Stoke. They are massive games for the club and could decide if we stay up.

Having a noisy, passionate crowd can influence officials and make it a bit more intimidating for the opposition. I then went to Leyland to watch our reserve team play Bolton. Not a great end to the day. We lost 3-0.


"Don't bother getting changed," I told the lads when they arrived at training. They looked at me like I was mad. I said "go and have a few beers, unwind, sort your lives out and stop feeling sorry for yourselves". I threatened to fine them two weeks' wages if they didn't go. They all went.

While they were having some grub and a few sherbets, I went to the gym. I'm following a rigorous eight-week course to get the perfect abs. It has not happened yet but I'll keep at it...

Watched the Chelsea-Manchester United game. United were the better side on the night and deserved to win. Their goal was a joy to watch, the kind of football I've been harping on about. Fantastic cross-field pass, Giggs meets it on the full, then a pull-back to Rooney, one chance, one goal, get in. Class.

Watching the work-rate of both teams hammered home what has been a big problem for us this season. Physically we haven't been able to live with the top teams. We were 2-0 up against United and ran out of steam. We did well against Chelsea too but got done by two goals in four second-half minutes. I've lost count of the number of times we have not won games after going ahead. But that is just us adapting to the level. It does not mean my team are rubbish.


Day off for the players, not for me. Chris Kamara is a good mate and proved a great pal when I was out of work after Leicester. He asked me to go to a charity night at Leeds and I was happy to help out. My wife and I got picked up and driven across and it turned out to be a cracking evening.

Steve Bruce and Mick McCarthy were there and it was great to talk to them about the Premier League and get their advice on how to stay in it. Leeds boss Simon Grayson, in charge at Blackpool before me, was also on the top table and in good form.

Funniest moment for me was when Bruce told a little story about Eric Cantona and the press conference when he went on about seagulls and trawlers. All the press thought he'd lost the plot, and so did his team-mates. Steve went to training the next day and said to Cantona: "Come on, mate, what the hell was all that about, where did you get that line?" Cantona looked at him and said: "I don't know, but it was great, wasn't it?"

We had a good natter and a laugh, which I needed. It was nice to talk to people in my position and share a few tales. Another late night, though – did not get home until 1am and I was tired when I woke for training at 7am.


We worked the players hard. I didn't name my team but the lads probably guessed most of my plans from the way I set them out. There was a problem when David Vaughan had to go in with a sore foot. I called another player over to fill in for him. It was a slightly unusual choice and that caused a bit of a bad reaction from a couple of other players.

I was due to meet the media straight after training but instead I decided to have a chat with the lads who had been upset. It was interesting to hear their take on things. Basically, they are not happy because they've not been playing in the first team. But what amazes me is how anyone in the reserves thinks they should be in the first team because our reserves have lost their last four matches!

I told them that straight. It is another part of management: trying to keep everyone happy, which isn't always easy when you are in the Premier League and some individuals can get a bit above their station.

That meant I was an hour late for the press conference. I got there at 2.30pm and did TV interviews with Sky, Premier League, BBC and Press Association, then national and local radio, national daily papers and then the Sunday papers.

I always answer every question. It's an important part of the job. It is a bit draining – it took more than two hours – but the only time it bothers me is after games when I'd prefer to be talking to the opposition manager.

The best news is Charlie Adam's nomination for PFA Player of the Year. A few papers described it as a shock. Not to me. I've been saying all season how good he is. We have him under contract next year, so people won't be able to pinch him off us for an insulting price in the summer. He has a massive part to play in the last seven games and looking at his body language, he is up for the challenge of helping us stay in this division.


This is when it gets technical. I told the lads what the starting line-up is and went over some new tactics I am introducing specially for this match.

It is not a huge change – I don't want to confuse my players again – but it involves doing something a bit different when we haven't got possession. Arsenal are so devastating with the ball, I want us to make it harder for them to pass it around. I'm not going to reveal exactly what we'll be doing in case Arsène's reading but it might cause them a problem or two.

I went through our defensive and attacking set-plays. We showed them some of Arsenal's set-plays and talked about who will take ours. We worked on our pattern and I reminded the lads where I want them to be when Arsenal have the ball. The lads who aren't starting provided the opposition in a practice match. By the end I was confident the lads had got to grips with what I was after.

Last night I watched Match of the Day. It's the one football show I never miss. Even if I'm out I make sure I tape it. I had an early night by my standards. I want to be fresh for Arsenal.


D-day. Arsenal are a superb team and I've been coming out in a cold sweat thinking about the great players they have, but we intend to give it a good go. I will get to the ground at 10.30am, three hours before kick-off, and I'll be one of the first to arrive. That's important – the boss can't be late.

I'll spend an hour with my assistant writing out the tactics on a board. We have a load of miniature pitches which we pin on the wall. We have stickers with the initials of each player and we set out where they are meant to stand for every corner – defensive and attacking – and free-kicks. There are about 20 scenarios which the players have to memorise.

The players arrive an hour and a half before kick-off and I'll tell them who the substitutes are. I always reveal the subs just before a game because some people don't prepare right if you tell them too early. My final team talk will be off the cuff. I sense the mood and take it from there. We always have a group huddle before we go out. That is when I will say a few final words, then it is over to them to implement the plan.

If we lose it won't ruin my night. It will be a case of "that's another one gone, now we need X amount of points from six games". I have to be philosophical. Next week will be the same again, working hard for Wigan. I suppose it is like Groundhog Day but I wouldn't swap it for the world – football is all I know and I wouldn't want any other job. Mind you, I might not be saying that come 3.30pm today!

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum