‘Twas only a little over nine months ago that Wolverhampton Wanderers were handed a suspended £25,000 fine by the Premier League board for fielding what they deemed to be a weakened team against Manchester United in a league game the previous December.
In a game he wasn’t expecting to get anything from, manager Mick McCarthy made ten changes to his team with one eye firmly fixed on an upcoming ‘relegation six-pointer’ with fellow stragglers Burnley.
Wolves duly ran out as 2-0 over the Clarets thus, in indisputable fashion, vindicating McCarthy’s decision to rest his first-string against United (who incidentally moved joint-top of the Premier League as a result of their 3-0 victory) entirely – although the FA obviously didn’t see it that way.
Similarly, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway threatened to resign last night if the Premier League (or Football Association) go ahead and punish the club for fielding a weakened team in their 3-2 Premier League defeat against Aston Villa.
With next weekend’s trip to West Ham presumably in mind, Holloway made ten changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Everton at the weekend for the clash at Villa Park, with tireless midfielder Keith Southern the only player to retain his place.
The Seasiders were very much on course for a well-deserved point thanks to substitute DJ Campbell‘s deflected 86th-minute equaliser, however Villa managed to grab a winner just two minutes later via a thumping header from centre-back James Collins.
When asked during a post-match interview what he would do if the Premier League decided to impose similar sanctions on Blackpool as they did to Wolves for ‘undermining the integrity of the competition’, the simmering Holloway launched into one of his now-customary rants:
“I’d pack in, I can’t work for this madness. I would resign. [The authorities] do not know what they’re talking about.
You haven’t got to be a genius to work out what happened to Wolves last year and how wrong that was. [Wolves manager] Mick McCarthy can pick whoever he likes.
We deserved at least a point and how dare anybody tell me the players I’ve been working with, I can’t treat them with respect and give them a chance.
[My reserves] should have played before now. I wasn’t sure they were ready, but tonight they have enhanced their reputation with me.”
“Let some person from the Premier League even try to tell me who I can pick. I am the manager of Blackpool Football Club and I select people to come to the club and play them whenever I want.
I’m going to come here and try to beat Aston Villa and I’m going to go to West Ham and try to beat them and all. If I pick a different team, I’ve got every right to do what I like.
Let them try and fine me, it’s an absolute disgrace. I’ll show the Premier League. We were a credit to football, and let the Premier League try to tell me otherwise.”
It would appear that Holloway was unprepared for the sheer levels of inane bureaucracy that come with managing a top flight side and that he is, as yet, unsure as to how he is should effectively deal with the constant gripes that come with the territory.
Whereas it could be that his irate demeanour of late is merely a consequence of playing the ‘seige mentality’ card to the Nth degree, it is equally likely that the seemingly fragile Holloway is simply unravelling before our very eyes.