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Joe Strange - Ian Holloway is a genius

Published: 16 Aug 2010 - 12:23:56

Anyone who happened to read, watch or listen to some sort of Premier League preview prior to Saturday's big kick-off might be forgiven for thinking that Blackpool had turned down their chance of top-flight football.

After all, according to every journalist (myself included), pundit and fan on the street, the Tangerines were relegation certainties - even before they’d laced their boots or kicked a ball.

But, football being football, the underdogs upset the odds yet again - embarrassing an established Premier League side in their own backyard.

Wigan Athletic 0-4 Blackpool. The standout result of the opening weekend, and one which is sure to make many a Premier League manager sit up and take note of Ian Holloway's unfancied side.

While some Blackpool fans will condemn those that were so quick to write-off their survival hopes, few could argue that all the evidence pointed to an immediate return to the Championship.

At the beginning of last season, Holloway's men were tipped as strong favourites to drop down to League One. A small squad, lack of talent and failure to invest were cited as the main reasons why they'd be playing their football in the third tier come August 2010.

Fast-forward to present day and Holloway is leading his orange-clad army into their inaugural Premier League battle, while winning the admiration of football fans up and down the country.

His honesty, humility and humour have endeared him to Football League supporters over the years, but for the first time he is set to be unleashed upon those unaware that football exists outside of Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford.

While his previous managerial exploits, most notably with Plymouth Argyle, have not gone unnoticed, it's always been Holloway’s character rather than achievements which has won him a cult following.

His legion of fans will only increase when his comedic post-match rants are broadcast via the world's media - but it should really be his ability as a manager, coach and man-motivator which earn him the plaudits this season.

'Ollie' has done an astonishing job at Bloomfield Road - achieving the seemingly impossible with a squad more suited to lower league relegation scraps than a place within English football's top tier.

He has helped create a winning mentality and a genuine belief among his players - something that even the world's top managers (take note Capello) struggle to do.

The former Leicester boss has also played a major part in developing a truly special team spirit among his squad - an attribute which is priceless even in the days of billionaire owners and £200,000 weekly wages.

Holloway might well entertain us with his pre-match press conferences and post-match interviews this season.

But as his reputation grows and Blackpool continue to improve, don't be surprised if it's the most unlikely survival in Premier League history we're talking about at the end of the season rather than him.



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A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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