Ian Holloway Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Updated: 133 Football

Ian Holloway Exclusive Interview with OLBG
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Ian Holloway Profile

Ian Scott Holloway, widely known as "Ollie", is an acclaimed figure in English football, recognized for his dynamic dual roles as both a player and manager, and his distinctive media presence. Born on 12 March 1963, Holloway's football career spans several decades and is marked by significant accomplishments including promotion to the Premier League with various clubs. His career trajectory, from his roots at Bristol Rovers to his leadership at Grimsby Town, showcases his passion and dedication to the sport. Coupled with his vivacious media personality and interviews, Holloway remains a beloved figure within the football community.

🏃‍♂️ Playing Career:

Emerging from the youth system at Bristol Rovers, Holloway quickly made a name for himself as a skillful midfielder. His time with Wolverhampton Wanderers and several Premier League clubs—including Queens Park Rangers—allowed him to amass around 150 league appearances in five years. Holloway's career apexed with his contribution to Wimbledon's promotion to the top flight in 1986, a status they maintained for an impressive fourteen seasons.

👔 Managerial Career:

After hanging up his boots in 1999, Holloway transitioned into a successful managerial career. His unwavering commitment to Bristol Rovers led to his appointment as a player-manager during his third spell at the club. Further demonstrating his managerial prowess, Holloway guided clubs like Queens Park Rangers, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester City, Blackpool, Crystal Palace, and Millwall to victory, earning several promotions during his stints. Despite a short tenure, Holloway's impactful leadership led to Crystal Palace's promotion to the Premier League in May 2013.

🎤 Media Personality and Legacy:

Known for his West Country accent and light-hearted media interviews, Holloway's vibrant personality earned him a special place among football lovers. His witty responses to media quests and intriguing soundbites often found their way into print, solidifying Holloway's reputation as a charismatic media personality. His autobiography, "Ollie", chronicles his journey through football, sharing insights and experiences amassed over decades of dedication to the sport. Today, Ian "Ollie" Holloway remains a respected figure in the football world, remembered not only for his achievements but also for his infectious enthusiasm for the beautiful game.

Ian Holloway Interview December 2023

Ian Holloway exclusive: I’m waiting for a job like Tom Hanks in Castaway and my wife is my Wilson, Stoke vacancy interests me and Joey Barton has to think about what he says

Speaking to OLBG, ex-Bristol Rovers, QPR, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester City, Blackpool, Crystal Palace, Millwall and Grimsby Town manager Ian Holloway gives his opinion on Erik ten Hag’s future at Manchester United and managing Wilfried Zaha, who he hopes will return to the Premier League.

What have you made of the current situation at Man Utd?

IH: “Look at Erik ten Hag. The dressing room atmosphere can go poisonous when you've got too many players on too much money. It's not the manager's fault, it's those above him who buy the players that should be blamed.

“Man United are so used to winning things and now they're not doing that, everyone is looking to point the finger at someone else. I see their players blaming everybody else. 

“Their captain (Bruno Fernandes) normally moans at everybody, I found that pretty interesting. They gave it to an honest and hard-working guy who loves the club in Scott McTominay against Liverpool and the team worked hard for each other. 

“All I see is Fernandes throwing his arms up in the air like he's blaming someone else. Come on, put a shift in, Shut up and get on with it!

“During coverage of the Liverpool vs Man United game I saw Sky Sports ask McTominay what he thinks about the manager. How can that ever be? I used to work for Sky but what are you doing? You are stepping across boundaries there. You are way out of line! That's absolute nonsense! You should never pressure a player to say what he asks about his manager. 

'Are you behind the manager?' What a terrible question to ask. It should be, 'Are you behind the owners?' Because they are the ones trying to bail out, aren't they? It's mental. How can you blame Ten Hag?” 

What does the future hold for Ian Holloway? Are you keen on returning to management?

IH: “It (any potential job) will have to be at a certain level and the club would have to make contact with me. I want to be wanted. I know what I can do, I'm probably better than I have ever been after having a taste of League Two at Grimsby.

“Look at what happened there. We rose like a phoenix until the season got cancelled and we started the next one (season) with half a squad because of COVID. The owner had to sell the club because he couldn't afford to run it and I didn't want to stay there. Being so far away from my family was heartbreaking and having no supporters at games really took a toll on me. We're in the entertainment business and we weren't allowed to entertain!

“Since then, I almost took one or two different opportunities but nothing has happened and I'm waiting like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. I'll wait to see what the tide brings. My wife is my Wilson and I love talking to her every day. I'm learning art and painting portraits of people and I'm thoroughly enjoying that.

“Put it this way, though. If Sunderland rang me, I would have been very interested. If Stoke want me, I might be very interested. It's all about being wanted. I am a coach and take all the sessions but I also like to build relationships.

“My career went slightly wrong during my second stint at QPR, when I got sacked without knowing they were talking to another manager (Steve McClaren). How bad and wrong is that?

“I left Crystal Palace because a player was bought without me wanting him. I would need autonomy with any owner and a special relationship with them if we are to build something special in the long term. 

“I would have loved for that to have been Bristol Rovers but I didn't get a call. So, if anybody wants me, give me a call! I love football and I think I would be better than I ever have been as I've become more mature. 

“It would all depend on the club, the owners, and how they see my role. I would be open to a different role where I am mentoring somebody else and helping them do it. 

“Sadly, I have all this knowledge about leading people and nobody wants to use it. I'm only 60, probably as fit as I've ever been and more knowledgeable than I've ever been.”

Were you close to making a return to Bristol Rovers? 

IH: “To be honest, I nearly went in to work with Joey Barton (in an upstairs role). When they sacked him for whatever reason, I wasn't happy. At the end of the day, I'm a Rovers fan and I thought the way he was doing things and the squad he was building was right. I thought he and his staff got the club.

“Unfortunately, the club changed. The owner (Wael al-Qadi) sold a big percentage of it and they (the new ownership) saw things differently. I wanted to work with Joey and the job I was in discussions with Rovers over would have suited me down to the ground.

“It never happened and the new people came in. If they didn't, I would have probably been in a job and I think Joey would still have been. It's all about relationships. 

“I would have preferred the other role I was going to get (instead of management). I would have let Joey carry on being the manager and I would have overseen things and helped the club get to where I always wanted it to be in the first place.

“I don't want to talk about job titles because nothing happened. They wanted to speak to me for two-and-a-half years and absolutely nothing has happened! That's life. Crazy.” 

Joey Barton has made headlines in recent weeks, does he still have a future in football?

“If you want someone that is going to work hard for you and make a young lad believe in themselves, why can't that be Joey Barton?

“But he's also got to think about what he says and where he says it. What he says may have an impact. You shouldn't call other managers names like he did with Steve Evans, but I would say that to his face.

“I thought he did a great job at Bristol Rovers. I've met him and I like him. I like who he is. We can all change a little bit to better ourselves a little bit, and he might have to do so.

Joey and Wael (al-Qadi) got on really well. Joey and the new people didn't get on. I don't understand why and I wasn't allowed to come in. 

“But, at the end of the day, somebody should give him a chance and meet him. We all draw conclusions about people from what we hear in the media.”

What did you make of Matt Taylor’s appointment?

“The jury is out for me. I didn't want Joey to leave and while that may be a bit personal, because I was going to come in and work with him two days a week, the jury is out. 

“Good luck to Matt Taylor, and I would never wish anything bad on anyone, but he's not who I would have picked in one million years. 

“I would have picked myself. I don't think there's anyone better than me for that job. Maybe I'm sounding a little bit big-headed but I can't see how anybody could care more about Bristol Rovers than me. 

“It breaks my heart that I got Blackpool promoted and not Bristol Rovers.”

Knowing Wilfried Zaha, were you surprised to see him join Galatasaray?

IH: “It was a joy to manage Wilfried Zaha, he's such a wonderful guy off the field. He's a lovely, lovely boy, he's really fresh and honest. Crystal Palace embraced him. He made so many fans happy because he's a local boy who represents the area and the ethnic diversity within that area. 

“Everybody wanted a piece of Wilf and Palace are carrying that on now. They've got Eberechi Eze, who I was lucky enough to manage at QPR, and he's a fantastic player. They've got Michael Olise on the other side. Palace love those type of players. It was a shame (to see Zaha leave) but he's so ambitious. 

“If Sir Alex Ferguson stayed at Manchester United for one more year, he would have loved Wilf. It was Sir Alex that bought him and we would have seen another Ronaldo. For me, he was another Ronaldo. What he could do with the ball was out of this world. 

“I'm still very proud of my time at Palace and I know Wilf has been very complimentary about me. I managed to get to him and help him and he scored two goals (vs Brighton in the play-off semi-finals) to get us to Wembley after I helped him secure a move (to Man United). 

There was a terrible time at Palace when he (Zaha) was out of contract and his agent was trying to get him a big move. We were not winning and he wasn't concentrating, so I had to try and resurrect that. It's my proudest bit of management. 

“I managed to get Man United to buy him, then loan him back to us and he got us promoted by scoring two goals in the play-off semi-final and winning the penalty at Wembley in the play-off final. We lost Glenn Murray and Brighton thought they had already beaten us but Wilf popped up with a diving header and scored a fantastic second goal.

“I am very proud of that young man. I can understand why he went abroad because his target was the Champions League. There was a time when he may have gone to Arsenal and might have gone to Chelsea, but he chose to stay at Palace so well done to him.” 

Which Premier League team should try and sign him?

IH: “I think Arsenal suits him down to the ground. The way they play, the way they do things and dominate the ball. If you give it to Wilf just outside the box, he could create anything for you. 

“He's also such a fantastic athlete, so he wants to run and he wants to chase back. He's a bit like (Sergio) Aguero, who was taught how to track back alongside scoring. He's a bit like Mohammed Salah.

“Maybe Wilf wants to stay in London, but I could also see him going to Liverpool with the way the out-of-possession demands Jurgen Klopp puts on his players.” 

Who's the next big thing to come from the Championship?  

IH: There are, honestly, too many to pick from, I'm not being funny. What's great is the young coaches are picking the young players and working with them. You only have to give some of these players a couple of years (to improve). For me, just by playing regularly at whatever level, you will improve.

“Look at Jude Bellingham, he's stepped up everywhere he's gone and I haven't seen as good an English player as him in a long, long, time. Declan Rice, too. 

“I believe in the Championship. It's a huge part of our country and a huge part of why our pyramid is so good. Some of the bullshit you get comes from the Premier League with overspending. We've got to be careful because we're all going to be hanging onto Man City's coattails. 

“I think it's great that some of these players are playing week in and week out in the Championship and if they're good enough, they will get there (the Premier League).

I don't want to name any names. I've seen a couple at Bristol Rovers that could easily step up but I really don't want to say their names in case we lose them. For example, (Aaron) Collins is a fantastic footballer. 

“There are so many great players that are playing at a lower standard. To be honest, I'm not silly enough to tell anyone the players I like in case I get another job!”

Who's going to get promoted from the Championship?

IH: “I really want Ipswich to get promoted. I've always looked up to that club. When they had Sir Bobby Robson, the team he built absolutely mesmerised me. You had (Eric) Gates and Alan Brazil. Some of the football they played was of a European style, not an English one at the time.

“I would love to see Ipswich under Kieran Mckenna get promoted. I feel that their supporters would deserve it, too. I would love for them to experience the Premier League feeling because they have not had it for a long time. 

“I can see this current Leicester team getting back up and comfortably staying up. It was a fantastic decision to get someone in (Enzo Maresca) who knows what the best in the world (Pep Guardiola) is doing and he's made a fantastic impact. 

“They were very clever and only lost a couple of players. They kept everyone else and have added to the squad. They've stepped up. To do what they are doing and be so consistent in the Championship is no mean feat. Normally, you can go on a good run of four games and then suffer a few defeats but they've been so consistent. Well done to them.” 

Who do you think could go up via the play-offs?

IH: “I'm going to sit on the fence. At this time of year, it's almost impossible to predict who is going to hang on to their players because all the scouting networks will be looking at who is doing well in the Championship and trying to buy them. It depends on if the clubs can hang on to their best players and then add to their squads.

“Until that happens, I don't want to predict anything because I don't know who's going to be able to do what.  Look at Chelsea last summer, it was an absolute disaster. How much did they spend? They were just throwing the money around and teams could not hold onto their players. 

“Do I expect that to happen again, probably not. But what I do see is top-six teams like Aston Villa, Arsenal and Newcastle buying again. I can see Man United spending big again with the changes that might happen there. 

“Keep your eye on the window and from there, it's all down to the huge demands on players' fitness to see if they suffer any injuries and which team can gallop towards the end goal. 

“I don't live by it, I'm doing other things as well, but football is in my blood and I miss it. Now I realise how difficult it is to sit here and talk about how well a team is going to do when I don't see them working every day.”

What have you made of Wrexham's rise? What advice would you give Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney?

IH: “They need to keep doing what they are doing. Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds understand Wrexham and the local area, they've brought so much joy to the place. They've made it fun and have bought well.

“They looked at it and thought 'How much does this cost compared to other clubs?' And they're having a ball. They've got one of the best goalscorers in the EFL in Paul Mullin and well done to Phil Parkinson who's an absolute unsung hero. 

“What I like about what they are doing is that they are building slowly. They're growing the crowd and developing a future for the club. I would love the sort of atmosphere that they are creating. It's great to watch, they seem fun and knowledgeable. They are doing it for the right reasons. 

“They just need to realise you have never cracked it until you've achieved something in football. Because it can turn around and bite you on the backside when you think you have got everything right. 

“But they learned about that when Grimsby beat them in the play-offs to win promotion (in 2022). I'm glad that happened because it taught them to be patient. They didn't sack the manager despite not getting them up, they just let him get on with the job. 

“They seem like they know what they are doing, so well done. It's fantastic.” 

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