It’s post-match after Crystal Palace’s heavy home defeat to Fulham. And manager Ian Holloway looks shell-shocked. Famous for his ebullience and unbridled enthusiasm, the Bristolian looks as if he is running on empty.
So it’s no surprise, a few days later that he leaves his job at Selhurst Park. His last words to the press, make interesting viewing. Ollie admits that he could no longer motivate the team. That, his team were no longer playing for him. Or even each other.
It’s a frank admission. He took Palace into the Premier League on the back of a strong team-spirit. But in attempting to assemble a group that he thought could compete at the highest level, he stripped his team of the very thing that made it strong.
He made exactly the same mistake that Mark Hughes did at QPR. He brought in players who on paper, looked liked they would add ability to the group. But they came in with an ego-driven, high wage selfish, highly personal attitude, rather than being able to integrate into the existing group.
In other words, Ian Holloway’s recruitment and selection policy was flawed and rushed. His Blackpool team that almost stayed in the Premier League three seasons ago, was built on an unbreakable team-spirit and a bold sense of adventure.
Because of the pain he experienced when Blackpool were relegated, Ollie felt he had to do things differently this time with Palace. But he didnt. He panicked.
Instead of keeping his group together and adding a few players high on both quality and with a strong, all in it together team attitude and character, he over-recruited, losing sight of his core values of togetherness, family and belonging in the process.
When mid-fielder Owen Garvan, surprisingly left out of the twenty-five man Premier League squad, tweeted that ‘he would be here longer than him’, it was recognized as a thinly veiled jibe at his manager. Holloway should have recognised then, the signs of a weakening team-spirit, as Garvan was seen as a stalwart of their Championship promotion campaign.
Ian Holloway needs to take a break from football. Go on a sabbatical like he did when he was fired at Leicester City. See if he can re-invent himself again. It’s a tough ask to take a team from the play-offs into the Premier League. Holloway is great at the former, but less successful at sustaining the latter. He needs to understand and reflect on the critical gaps in his skill-set, if he is to be truly fulfilled as a manager.