Ian Holloway: A mountain to climb but we can prove you all wrong

Anyone upset about getting Championship wages must make sure we stay up!

Sunday 23 October 2011 06:06
The hairs on my head - and the back of my neck - are standing up just thinking about Old Trafford today. And I believe that we can do it
The hairs on my head - and the back of my neck - are standing up just thinking about Old Trafford today. And I believe that we can do it

Anyone who watched Match of the Day last night will have seen what happened against Wigan, but I still can't believe it. How we contrived to give that first goal away beggared belief.

We had a set-piece in the middle of the pitch and I'm sat in the dugout expecting us to wait till we get our big men forward, then hit a high ball into the box and put our opponents under pressure. Instead, my young centre-half Craig Cathcart decided to do something the team wasn't set up to do by passing it sideways, straight to a Wigan player. Then, to put the icing on it, he slipped as he was trying to chase back to make up for it and that played themonside. They go through and score and in one of our biggest games of the season we find ourselves behindafter two and a half minutes.

Anyone can make a mistake and I won't be holding a grudge against Craig because he has been great all season. But it's another individual mistake at the start of a game, just like at Fulham where James Beattie misplaced a pass and sent Bobby Zamora through. Supporters can say "sort that out" but how am I meant to stop an individual doing something you don't expect him to?

We never recovered from that start and played badly throughout. The second goal we conceded was almost as bad, a throw-in that we threw straight to them. What worries me is that for the first time I thought we played with fear. We looked nervous and we cannot afford to be like that. It was an annoying day all round because before the game I was fuming that on our big screen at the ground we showed the goals we scored at Wigan on the opening day. You don't do that. It's disrespectful and I think it wound them up. I've already had a word with the person responsible and said it must never happen again.

Wigan deserved the win but their fans should be careful. At the end, they were singing "we are staying up". Well let's wait and see because you've done nothing yet if you don't mind me saying. You can't ever take anything for granted in this division, wins are so hard to come by. We have a mountain to climb and we know it. But we've five games left, we'll pick ourselves up and regroup at the training ground. It's far from done and dusted – we still believe we can do this and are determined to prove wrong everyone who's writing us off.

I am happy to take a big pay-cut if we go down

We all take a big pay cut if we get relegated, myself included, and I am totally happy with it. Other clubs have gone up to the Premier League and been relegated straightaway but not had the same clauses that we have in our contracts – and they are now in financial meltdown. That will never happen at our club, the chairman Karl Oyston wouldn't let it. The players and myself all signed deals which mean our wages drop by a certain percentage if we are relegated. It is an incentive to stay up, though it can also be a burden if you are nervous and worried about it. We all knew about it when we agreed our contracts. I totally agree with this way of doing things. It is sensible because it safeguards the club's future. Whether the players are as happy about it I don't know, but the fact is they are being paid fantastically well compared to last year. If anyone is upset about the prospect of going back down to Championship wages, I guess they'd better make sure we stay up.

Why I gave players time off

I gave the players three days off earlier in the week and for the people who have questioned why, I felt it was important to give them some chill-out time. I know what they have been through against Arsenal and Fulham in the last fortnight, and how hard they've tried to do what I've asked of them. They haven't always got it right but I couldn't have asked for any more effort and so it was important that their batteries got recharged.

If we had beaten Arsenal, or even drawn, I wouldn't have done it – I'd have had them in for training. But we lost and I felt it was important they had some free time to put their feet up and, perhaps more importantly, clear their heads.

It helped me too. I could re-focus on the rest of the season, tweak a few things tactically and get ready to go again. Hopefully, by the end of the season, it will have paid off.

If Charlie wins player of the year tonight, how much is he worth then?

Imagine if Charlie Adam wins the PFA Player of the Year award tonight. How much will he be worth then? I am bursting with pride for Charlie and he has done it all himself.

All I did was give him the chance to play on a regular basis; he's done the rest. His performances have been startling in the last year. I'm proud we had the foresight to sign him when no one else was interested.

I keep getting asked if he'll move on in the summer. The honest answer is I haven't a clue. I can't worry about things that aren't in my control. What I do know is that it is a good job my chairman kept hold of him in January. If we'd gone on this bad run of form and Charlie had been sold, everybody would have pointed the finger at the chairman and said: "It's because you cashed in and flogged him." But by keeping Charlie he did the right thing for the club and for the fans ... though maybe not for Charlie himself.

The fact Charlie has even been nominated for the PFA award, regardless of whether he wins or not, shows what a player he is. So until his contract runs out – that isn't until the end of next season – surely we should hold out for what we think is right and not be bullied by bigger, stronger clubs. That's what they were trying to do in January and I did not like it.

One last thing to clear up: I didn't say I thought Charlie was worth £35m, as some papers reported. I said that if Liverpool wanted Charlie, why didn't they fight for him like they did for Andy Carroll? I think the truth was that, in January, Liverpool's priorities were Carroll and Luis Suarez, and Charlie was third choice. Hopefully he won't be third choice now because he has played even better since January.

His value will be determined by our chairman because he owns him. The decision won't be mine. I can only advise. All we do know is Charlie has proven he is a really good player, and we are all going to benefit from that.

I'd love to inject Torres

Javier Hernandez is the buy of the season but what does that make Fernando Torres? I would never put the boot into Torres. I love him as a player and what he is going through is terrible to witness. If I had one power it would be to invent confidence, and the first person I'd inject with it would be him.

When Torres has confidence he is one of the best centre forwards, if not the best, in the world. When he hasn't, he is just an also-ran.

He is just a human being, and people forget that. He is a boy. He is someone's son. If you have kids, you know they can struggle and all you want to do is help them, but sometimes you just can't. I'd love Fernando to score and then the world would be lifted from his shoulders.

As for Hernandez, it is another example of Sir Alex Ferguson's unerring ability to pluck a superb player from the other side of the globe at a bargain price. It is just frightening how good Fergie's overall knowledge is. Hernandez's goals-to-shots ratio is frightening but from a coach's point of view it is his movement which is his true genius.

He works like a Trojan and has given Wayne Rooney a new lease of life. In fact, I'm not lying when I say I'm already worried about going to Old Trafford on the final day. I won't sleep for a week worrying about how to try and stop them.

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