Ian Holloway has been what is known as a ‘character;’ ever ready with a whimsical remark and some off the wall thinking. He even brought the whole world of late night taxi rides as a metaphor for a football match. It would wrong however to assume that he’s some kind of comic cut manager. Here is a guy with a desire to kick the pundits up the backside and deliver an unlikely survival performance for his club.
A couple of seasons ago, Holloway took an unlikely, underpaid, underfinanced into the big time, and performed ridiculously well by sending his team out to play without fear. It was a ploy that came within a whisker of success as the denouement of the season saw the Seasiders relegated by a narrow margin.
Now Holloway is back. He took over from Dougie Freedman as manager at Selhurst Park, last November after the Scot decamped to Bolton Wanderers, apparently seeing them as a better bet for his career. It didn’t work out that way as the season progressed, as Holloway bucked the trend by taking unfancied Palace into the play-offs where they were expected fail against Gus Poyet’s Brighton in the semi-final, and were also underdogs in the Wembley final against Watford, when evergreen Kevin Philips netted the winner to give Holloway a return to the big time.
Defiance in the face of overwhelming odds has been Holloway’s tour de force in recent times, and don’t expect a change any time soon. Most pundits have Palace down as a banker for a rapid return to the SkyBet Championship, but it shouldn’t be taken as read. Holloway will not be giving up so easily, and with one season so close to survival last time, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him confound the critics come next May. Now that may be something that he’ll find funny.