Ian Holloway: I'm still ready to resign if Premier League fine us – but I must apologise to Mick

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The Independent Online

It is not often you can call a 0-0 draw a thriller but our stalemate at West Ham was the best I've been involved in. I was very impressed by them, the way they played despite the pressure they find themselves under.

Unfortunately for them they didn't get a result and we could have probably nicked it but, then again, that might have been harsh on them.

It's a relief to get the week over with because it has been a real tough one, both on and off the pitch. We got two points out of nine, but produced three terrific performances and, for me, that is what makes all the fuss about the number of changes I made in midweek so astounding.

We have a good squad and that's why I've played the teams I have – all 25 players are as good as each other. The lads now know that the gloves are off. I have done what I said I would do and given everyone a chance in these last two matches.

Every member of my squad is on a level playing field and anybody who makes a mistake will be out because I know someone else will be able to step in and replace them.

What I do need to do is apologise to Mick McCarthy. He rang me up incensed on Friday. I didn't mean to talk about Wolves but because I had made 10 changes at Aston Villa, I found myself having to answer questions about the 10 changes Wolves made in a match at Old Trafford last year. My words were twisted and I have to say to Mick: "I'm sorry, I don't believe anyone would go into a match not trying to win it." I'm so proud of what Mick has achieved at Wolves. He is a smashing fella and has done an unbelievable job. I'll get to apologise personally to him next weekend – we play Wolves at Bloomfield Road.

Hand on heart, not for one minute did I think making 10 changes for our game with Aston Villa would cause such uproar. I thought my team would be judged on how well or badly they played. I'm used to that. What I'm not used to is being told the Premier League can tell me what I'm not allowed to do and then fine us, when all I am trying to do is the best job I can for my football club.

I don't think the Premier League are involved in any of what has happened since the match. Yes, they are writing a letter to ask why I did it and I will explain every step of the way. When I do that, I'm sure it will be the end of the matter. What has riled me is what I consider to be lazy journalism. The line of questioning I was hit with after the game left me gobsmacked. I was looking forward to a positive chat about how well we'd done at Villa but all I got was this rubbish about how we would be fined. I could not understand why someone would even dream of fining us when we've come into the top League of English football and are doing so well.

Some of my biggest summer signings played at Villa, as well as Marlon Harewood – my top scorer and hardly a reserve player. If there was a match between the XI that played at Villa and my normal XI, I couldn't tell you who would win.

I said after the game that I'd consider resigning if we were fined by the Premier League and I stick by that. But I'm convinced that won't happen. The whole episode has been blown out of all proportion and I find it surreal. All I can say is judge my team on how they played, and anyone who saw the game will know we were fantastic. Weakened team? I've never been so insulted in my life.

Friendly ire

Why do we bother having international friendlies? I would never have said that a few years ago but the more I think about it, and the more my team is affected by it, I do have to question what we get out of them.

I used to listen to Premier League managers speaking like I am and think "what are you on about?" But to be blunt I now agree because I just can't see the point of them. You travel all around the world for what? I'm not sure the manager learns anything because it is not a game that counts.

Our lads need rest more than anything. I've got players like Charlie Adam and David Vaughan who could burn out if they don't get some time off. That's another reason I didn't pick them at Villa, but let's not get started on that again...

Adam and Vaughan haven't stopped for about 18 months. We went up through the play-offs so they only had a few weeks off before they were back for pre-season training and into the Premier League. They have done brilliantly so far but it is difficult to keep that standard up because the stressesare much greater at the top level.

Maybe club managers should be able to talk with international managers about their players. Then again I wouldn't know because I haven't ever spoken to a single one of them.

Phillips is the business

Fabio Capello should come and watch a lad I've got at Blackpool called Matty Phillips. I signed him from Wycombe Wanderers in League Two in August. He is only 19 but as far as I can tell he has everything.

After a few appearances from off the bench, I gave him his full Premier League debut at Villa and he was sensational. You might have seen the backheel he produced for Marlon Harewood's goal, it was terrific, but he has more than that in his locker and it is why I think Matty can get to the top. He has the temperament, skill, pace, and an end product.

I am hard-pressed to leave him out and it is only a matter of time before he starts making people outside Blackpool sit up and take notice.

What makes him such a good lad is that he is so grounded and settled with his family life. And that's why I'm saying all this, because I know it won't go to his head.

Good luck to the lad and I'm delighted I spent £350,000 on him because it could turn out to be a cracking bit of business.

If I do get the boot, I can always go on 'I'm A Celebrity'!

I'm A Celebrity starts on ITV tonight and I have to admit I'll probably watch a bit of it. In fact, if the Premier League fine me for the team I picked at Villa, I might write in and ask if I can go on it because I'll need a new career!

Then again there is no way I could do it. I've seen some of those Bushtucker trials and the moment someone asked me to eat one of those horrible little bugs, I'd be out of there like a shot. I'm a bit squeamish so it would be no good for me, plus I'm scared stiff of snakes and they get a few too many of those in Australia for my liking.

I'm not normally a fan of all these daft reality shows but this one isn't bad. Everyone gets hooked on it. Peter and Katie fell in love. Then they split up. What an anti-climax.

But fair play to anybody who goes on. It shows a different side to people and I'll probably be like everyone else and tune in to see what's going on and who's eating what.



My love for the Special One

I am determined to find something wrong with Jose Mourinho because from what I can tell he has got it all.

As a football manager there are people you look up to and, for me, Mourinho is as good as it gets. He is the ultimate motivator, just behind Bill Shankly in terms of greatness. That is a bold statement, but I rate him that highly.

You just cannot argue with his record. Yes he has had some great players to work with but look how he makes those individuals believe in themselves and how he moulds them into a team.

Lionel Messi, one of the best players in the world, has never scored against a team Mourinho has managed. To do that requires unbelievable knowledge and it speaks volumes about how good he is as a coach.

The way Mourinho handles himself off the pitch is second to none.I love the way he is, the confidence he exudes. To walk into Chelsea and in his first press conferencedescribe himselfas The Special One was outstanding. You can only admire someone who gets one of the biggest jobs in England and comes out with a line like that. Brilliant.

There is another quote I love where he says: "There is God. And after God, me." Talk about self-confidence.

I know the Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers very well and Brendan used to work at Chelsea with the reserve team. He was brought in by Mourinho and so got to know him and he says he is just a fantastic fella.

Mourinho is a bloke I would love to sit down with and talk football. Unfortunately it is probably one for the future because we're both busy at the moment.

But that doesn't stop me watching Real Madrid on the TV and I try to work on incorporating some of his organisation and motivational strategies into what I do at Blackpool. I'm not sure I could ever do it as well, because there is only one Jose.

To top it off he's got the looks as well. Surely he must have a weakness... but we're still looking for it.



Ray sacked for doing Double

All the best to my old mate Ray Wilkins. I was surprised to see his time at Chelsea end suddenly. Goodness knows what happened but that will teach Ray for doing the Double!

A smashing bloke who I got to know when we were at QPR, Ray did a great job at Stamford Bridge. He was vital, dealing with the players while the manager was settling in and learning the language.

They had a great season last year and it is difficult to understand why they are not keeping him, but I'm sure that Mr Wilkins won't be out of work for long.

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