Ian Holloway: I am not belittling the FA Cup but to tell the truth it has lost magic for me

Sunday 09 January 2011 01:00

I make no apologies for the team I fielded in the FA Cup at Southampton yesterday. I had to do it. First, let me say that no one loves the competition more than me. I remember when I was a player, I thought it was great – especially when you drew someone from a higher division. That was the moment to test yourself against better players. You had nothing to lose so you went for it and relied on bulldog spirit.

Mind you, it was a nightmare when you played a side from a lower division. Suddenly your manager went all nervous. You could see it in his body language on the day. It was, "Oh my God, we've got to win this one, lads." I understand why, because every chairman I've worked for before Blackpool put me under pressure to win our Cup games.

They said the club needed a good Cup run and some of them even budgeted for it at the start of the season. I was saying, "How can you do that, we don't even know who we'll draw yet, this is madness."

But that was part of the magic of it, its unpredictability – you might draw a massive team. For Blackpool this year it is different. For starters, we are already living our dream. We used to hope we'd draw Manchester United in the third round but we have got them twice this season.

But most importantly, we have to give ourselves the best chance of surviving in the Premier League. Yesterday was simply a game too many for my first-choice lads. To ask them to sit on a coach for 14 hours, to go to the south coast and back, play a game in between, and then get that out of them by the time we play Liverpool on Wednesday... I wasn't going to do that. I am not belittling the FA Cup here. I am just telling the truth.

Maybe it has lost a little of its magic. Maybe it's because there is so much money elsewhere in the game now and you can make more from finishing a place higher in the Premier League than winning the Cup. What I do know is that for the sake of one match it was not worth risking my regular lads. If people don't agree, fair enough. But I hope some can see the bigger picture.

Yes I am having a laugh, thanks

Well done to Southampton and Nigel Adkins – a top club and a top man, and they deserved to beat us 2-0 and go through to the fourth round. Their second goal yesterday was so good that I found myself stood on the touchline applauding. I suddenly realised what I was doing and thought, "You can't do that, stop it."

I made nine changes and gave four of my youth team lads a debut. They will remember that day forever and I was delighted with how they and the rest of my lads did. If we had taken a couple of chances at the start of the second half, it might have been a different story. But I am happy because we didn't pick up any injuries and we can now get back to the League, which is our priority.

One thing I have to say: what on earth was the Southampton fan who was singing "Premier League, you're having a laugh" on? It dampened the day a little because you're right, I am having a laugh – I can't wipe the smile off my face because I am loving every minute. To that fan, I say: you should have more respect for us because we have earned the right to be there and you haven't yet.

To the Southampton fans who didn't sing that, thanks. I'm sure, with the bloke you have in charge, that you will win promotion this season.

So sad to see Roy's been sacked

Roy Hodgson's dismissal is one of the saddest things I have ever seen in football and I feel so sorry for him.

He is a lovely man, with bags of experience in world football, and I don't think he was given a decent amount of time to turn things around. The Liverpool board only appointed Roy in the summer and he inherited a team that Kenny Dalglish wouldn't have dreamed of picking a few years ago, when they were the world's most famous club.

They have Manchester United today, us on Wednesday and then Everton, so good luck to Ken in his first three games because that is one heck of a baptism of fire. I hope for his sake he can turn it around but at the moment I just can't get past feeling very sad about what they've done to Roy.

Oyston pushes the boat out

My chairman, Karl Oyston (and Blackpool fans who know him might need to lie down at this point) is being superb during the transfer window. I don't like it. The whole month gets on my nerves because I disagree with us having to do all our business in one month. It is a restriction of trade.

But those are the rules so we get on with it, and boy is my chairman doing that. As well as being delighted that we don't have to be a selling club any more, which is good because I've got lads like Charlie Adam and David Vaughan who are catching the eye of other managers, he is leading the way in trying to sign players too.

He surprised me in the summer by paying out what he did – £750,000 on Craig Cathcart and £1m on DJ Campbell. That is big money for our club, but he did it. And now this month he is ringing other chairmen right, left and centre, trying to get some more deals done. It is the right time to add one or two because some of my squad are a little stale.

I have let a couple of lads out on loan this week. That frees up space in our 25-man squad and now I want to get the motorboat out and stir up the water by bringing new lads in.

Then hopefully it will be a case of "watch our boat go". I don't want to be stagnant. I want to add competition and give myself many options. Hopefully we will make a breakthrough in the transfer market soon.

Yes you play Championship Manager, but no you can't do this impossible job

I love it when someone comes up to me and says: "I know what it's like to be a boss, I've played Championship Manager on my computer." Do me a favour. You have no idea.

Sitting behind a screen is easy. It doesn't even matter when you get the sack. You can turn the thing off and nip downstairs for a brew.

People like Gérard Houllier, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti are doing it for real and they have to cope with a great deal of pressure. It is hard to explain to someone not in the industry just how tough it is.

It is a unique job, and when the pressure is on, you've had a few bad results and are down at the bottom, it can be horrendous. Little things like trying to marry your family life with the pressure of work is difficult. Actually it is nigh on impossible.

I have been a manager for 15 years and you think you learn how to cope but you don't. We all take it home and take it out on the people who love us most. That is only natural I suppose – where else is it going to go?

It is unfair and uncalled for, but so is a lot of the stick we get. Someone has to be at the bottom but it doesn't mean you have suddenly become a bad manager.

From the age of 16, when I walked into an apprenticeship at Bristol Rovers and was tested to see if I was good enough, I learned that longevity is more important than anything. You can't judge a player on a couple of games and you certainly can't judge a manager over a short period.

Sometimes the problems are at a club before you get there, and they will still be there long after you're gone. Everything takes time to sort out and, even if you do, there will be stages when things don't go for you.

There will be a day when Blackpool fans boo me out of the ground and want to set fire to my coat. I know that will happen if I stay here long enough. That is just football.

All I want to do at my club is try and produce football that is enjoyable whether we win or lose. We lost to Birmingham during the week but I went away thinking how fantastic we had been in the second half.

I didn't think we should have been jeered or booed from the stands, yet there were a couple of people moaning. How can that be?

Any true football follower is fantastic. What it takes to be a fan is a lifelong commitment. They come to games, pay their money and have every right to say what they want.

All I would ask, at every club and particularly at mine, is to think about the encouragement they are giving, because when you get encouragement anything is possible.

We've found that out at Blackpool because we have done the impossible for the last 18 months and I want to keep doing it.

For the money my lads are being paid and the budget we have, we should be bottom of the Premier League by a zillion miles.

Even if we end up there, I will still think we have played some fantastic football along the way. We have tried to entertain people and if some of them think losing 2-1 at home to Birmingham isn't good enough then I suggest they don't bother coming.

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