Ian Holloway: Wagers of sin make me sick to the stomach


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The Independent Football

We have lost faith in the bankers and politicans, please don't let it happen in sport as well. It sickens me that the Pakistani cricketers, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, cheated by deliberately bowling no-balls. I think it is absolutely right to send them to jail. Sport should be sacred and what those three did totally abuses what we all go into it for.

It is about being part of a team and how can they do that to their team-mates, let alone the millions out there who adore and hero-worship them? I cannot tell you how angry and upset I am about this.

I think in general football is pretty well regulated but there are still loopholes that need tightening. There have been incidents where people have bet on the time of the first throw-in and the ball has duly been booted out of play within seconds of a game starting. How easy is it to do that and, even, worse, how tough is it to prove a player is guilty?

Gambling to me is a sin and I find it a bit sad that we are bombarded with adverts trying to get us to do it. Every time there's an ad break during a match on TV, Ray Winstone's face is staring at us encouraging us to have a flutter.

Anyone who heard Michael Chopra speak the other week about the demons he has had to battle will know how dangerous addiction can be. Chopra talked about how he was waking in the middle of the night to put an outrageous bet on some game somewhere in the world. He is glad he is over it now, but it shows how gambling is a drug.

I'm not saying we should ban it because if gambling is what people want to do then fine. It is about striking the right balance and making sure that punters can't bet on every little thing. They should only be allowed to bet on situations that can't be fixed, like first goalscorer. That's not open to corruption because it would involve so many to be in on it.

Hopefully these idiots who trade the sporting prowess they have been blessed with to make a quick buck will think twice in future. It makes me feel sick to the stomach that anyone would even think about doing it.

Hats off to Sir Alex

In November 1986 I was sent out on loan to Brentford by Wimbledon. It is incredible to think that the same month Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United. It is a lifetime ago. The bloke a living legend, the best manager of our generation. Yes, United were one of the biggest clubs in the world when he went but he has single-handedly given them more success than they could have ever hoped for. To build one team is hard enough, To build a team twice is unbelievably tough, as I'm finding out now at Blackpool. But to do it again and again at a club where the expectation is so enormous is just phenomenal. He has made me eat my words because I used to think winners were born. Now I think they are made.

He makes himself a winner with the way he gets over adversity. What I like most about him is that he can take defeat with dignity and come back stronger. I played against his sides many times as a player. I mostly ended up on the losing team but on one occasion the QPR side I was in won 4-1. Sir Alex was exactly the same after that result as he was when his team had beaten us, and that is his biggest strength. People talk about how difficult it is managing modern players with their great big wage packets.

Well look at Sir Alex and how he does it. I'd like to congratulate the best manager there is on his 25 years at United and tell him to keep going because football is a better place with him in it.

Boo boys only hurt their own

A former goalkeeper of mine, Paul Rachubka, got crucified the other night for a couple of mistakes. He was playing for Leeds against my Blackpool team. I let him go at the end of last season and Simon Grayson took him to Elland Road.

We won the match 5-0 and Paul will admit he didn't have a great evening. In particular he should have caught a cross that led to our second goal and a sending off for Leeds. But what I didn't like was the reaction of the Leeds fans after that. They booed and jeered him every time he touched it. Don't they realise the damage that does?

They've got to stop making scapegoats. Ask my left-back at Blackpool, Stephen Crainey. Stephen is a brilliant player but the Leeds fans made his life hell when he was at Elland Road a few years back simply because they were unhappy with where their club was at that point.

I actually used their crowd to our advantage. I said to my team that if we could get on the ball, pass it around and get some shots off, the fans might turn on their own. I played there many a time for QPR and it was as if the whole crowd were at you and it was a truly horrendous place to go. But if you quieten them down they have a habit of turning against their own players. When we played them on Wednesday we scored after 12 minutes and you could almost hear a pin drop – until they started booing poor old Rachubka. He might be in a bad period but Paul, you can get over it son because you are a damn good goalie.

In 800 primary school teachers I discovered a kindred spirit

My chairman at Blackpool booked me to appear as a speaker at a conference of primary school teachers in the town this week. It was first thing Monday morning and I was supposed to be giving a motivational speech. Given that on the Saturday we had been trounced 3-0 in a local derby at Burnley, to say I didn't feel like doing it is an understatement.

There were 800 teachers crammed in to listen to me. Any nerves? Well one or two of them might have, but I was fine! I ended up actually enjoying it and they had to force me off stage because I'd wittered on past the allotted 20 minutes. I felt like I fitted in because I consider myself a teacher. I teach football. My pupils are my players and every week there is a new script for them to learn.

I spoke about understanding your pupils and believing in your own subject. I do it back to front with my lads. I talk to them about where they want to play in the future and what it is going to take to get there, and hopefully I light their imagination. It is also important that, if you are going to teach someone, you feel lively and buoyant yourself, otherwise they will see clean through you.

Goodness knows whether anything I said touched a chord with those in the audience, but I didn't get booed off so that was a good sign.

Little op won't stop Harry

It's good to see Harry Redknapp seems to be fine after his heart op.

As usual some people speculated about how it must be the stress of football which caused his problem. Rubbish. Harry does have to make difficult decisions and has to make them at a massive club where the expectation has rocketed.

Harry is responsible for that because he has done such a marvellous job, transforming Spurs into one of the best teams in the Premier League. But he has always handled the pressure. The heart op was something many people of his age have gone through, it is nothing to do with the footie. There are two forms of fitness – mental and physical. As a manager, being mentally OK is more important but you also have to look after yourself physically.

I'm sure Harry will be as feisty as ever, it will take more than a little op to stop that wonderful fella.

Battered in Burnley

This is a little thank you message for all those in Burnley who have loved giving me some serious stick in the last week. Never have I taken so much ribbing in my life. Burnley beat my Blackpool 3-0 last weekend and it was in the hours afterwards that I regretted having a house in the area.

I've been bumping into Clarets fans all week and they've not been shy to mention the score to me. But I've taken it in the right spirit because Burnley beat us fair and square, they were the better team. I was really down after that loss... then three days later we won 5-0 at Leeds and inflicted on them their joint worst home defeat of all time. Football's a strange old game.