Ian Holloway: We must get rid of this window that only the big boys can see through
The teams that suffer most are the ones that come up through the play-offs
Sunday 04 September 2011
Swansea have a problem. So have QPR and Norwich. It is called the transfer window and it's why so many promoted clubs struggle.
My Blackpool were staggering about the ring fighting the champs with one arm tied behind their backs last year, all because the rules in the Premier League are so against the smaller clubs. It is OK for the established big boys who have nice settled squads and the money and the plans in place to buy the players they want, but what about the rest of us?
Put simply, the transfer window should be scrapped because it makes life difficult for everyone. There was nothing at all wrong with the old system. You could make signings up until the third Thursday in March and it was great, no one had a problem with it. Then we had the Bosman ruling and suddenly we had to change our entire system to match the way Europe did it. But in my opinion we were doing it right and they had it wrong. Unfortunately no one wants to admit that now so we are stuck with it.
The least fair aspect of it is that the teams that suffer most are the ones that come up through the play-offs. They have less time than anybody else to get their squad in place. So in other words the very clubs who need all the help they can get are penalised. How do you know who will get injured? And unlike the Football League you can hardly make any loan deals either so if you don't get it right first time you're knackered.
The whole transfer window is a restriction of trade and I don't get it. It is like a glass manufacturer watching one batch blow over in the wind and smash, then being told he can't make any more. Those are the rules we are operating under. How stupid is it? That is why most promoted clubs come straight back down. The system is a shock to them.
The big boys, like Manchester United, don't suffer. They are a perfectly run club because the minute the season finishes they do their business. They get their players quickly, like they did with Ashley Young and Phil Jones. Sir Alex identifies his targets and gets them in the summer. Very rarely does he spend in January. So everything is settled, whereas everyone else has to scrap around and that is when mistakes are made.
It also isn't good for the health of us managers. Transfer day is carnage and can be a complete nightmare if you get too wound up and emotional about it.
At the end of the day you have to realise what your job is, what you can do, what part you play. At Blackpool, I identified loads of players and that was it – I left it to the chairman. It's a far cry from the old days, when managers used to make the calls themselves, then tell their chairman what price they could get a player for. Now we managers aren't involved in any negotiations. There is a chief executive or the chairman doing it.
I don't mind that because there is only a certain amount you can do as a manager. It is also very transparent now. The chairman and people who own the clubs do the deals and that is probably how it should be. It is their money after all.
I didn't pay too much attention to what the big clubs did on deadline day, I was too busy fretting about my club because we had a bit of a nightmare and only made one permanent signing.
Owen Hargreaves' move caught my eye though. I wouldn't say it was a surprise because he is a quality player and City, because they are loaded, can afford to take a risk.
If I was to pay a lot of money to a lad who hasn't been fit for the last two years and he broke down again, I guarantee the axe would very quickly fall on the back of my neck.
But City can do as they please. They can build their squad as big as they like and no matter how you cut it, they are going to be a threat this season because the quality of players they have is immense.
I hope Arsenal do well but what has happened to them this past month sums up the modern day game. If you don't compete with these big boys now they will leave you behind. The players want the money that the biggest paying clubs are offering, so that's why Fabregas and Nasri left. Does that make Arsène Wenger a bad manager? I don't think so. I think that is just the game.
With the likes of City coming in and offering mega-bucks, it makes it tough for everyone else and even United had a scare with that last year. When Rooney was dithering over his contract it looked as though he might leave, and City would have taken him. But Fergie got him a better deal, Rooney re-signed and it settled everyone down. That was huge because he is their talisman and who knows how the season would have panned out if he'd gone?
Football is getting tougher every year. Which brings me back to my original point: why make it tougher? By having a transfer window? Like so many things in the sport, it is nonsense.
Lay off Di Canio – he's only showing the passion we all have
When I was player-manager at Bristol Rovers in the '90s we ended up losing a game we were leading 3-1. I remember it well because I had a right rumble with one of my players afterwards. Fortunately the TV cameras weren't around, which is where Paolo Di Canio has been unfortunate. His skirmish with his on-loan striker Leon Clarke after Swindon's Carling Cup defeat at Southampton was broadcast for all to see.
But before anyone rushes to criticise Di Canio, let me tell you that in football it happens a lot – normally behind closed doors. As a manager you have to control yourself and act in whatever behaviour is appropriate for the situation. But you have to care because the day you stop caring is the day you should pack in.
I am a big fan of Di Canio's. A lot of Italians speak with their hands and use body language and are very passionate. He is exactly the same and I don't want to stop that because it adds to the game. It's not as if he pulled a knife on someone. It was a minor dust-up which, as usual, has been blown out of all proportion by the media. It's football and what people don't realise is it is more than a job. Everybody out there needs to understand that.
Look at Arsène Wenger. Look at his face. That should tell you that it is much, much more than a job.
The art of living in the north
Before I got the job at Blackpool, I'd never lived up north. I'm glad I moved, though, because it is fantastic and the people are great. First time I walked in my local – a little village pub at the foot of Pendle Hill near Burnley – and wearing my best grey pinstripe suit, this old bloke screamed at me: "Ey up young Stanley, call that a suit." That's the kind of welcome you get in the north-west!
Fortunately I knew who the fella was. He's called Riley, a larger-than-life local character who paints for a living. He has his own stool in the pub and his paintings hang all around the bar. So that day, quick as flash, I shouted back "ey up, you must be Riley, call that a painting". He laughed, we got talking, and now he's agreed to give me painting lessons. It's something I've always wanted to have a go at, mainly because the only subject I liked at school other than PE was art.
It is good to have something to take my mind off football because being a manager is so intense and full-on and brings so much pressure with it. My wife Kim has always been artistic and to be honest she's a better painter than me, so she is joining in too. My first painting – a wall near Pendle Hill – was pants. But I've got a bit better and you never know, if the football management goes pear-shaped, I might be able to make a few quid out of it.
Every party needs a driver
Despite the nightmare of transfer deadline day, I did manage to have a good weekend. My father-in-law turned 70 and he celebrated with a big bash. He is the chairman of Cadbury Heath FC in Bristol. They had no game yesterday so he put a marquee in the middle of the pitch for an all-day party.
Thanks, too, to my daughter for getting us there safely. She has just passed her test and the journey there was the first time she had driven on the motorway. I'm happy to say we survived and she did brilliantly!
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