Ian Holloway QPR Exclusive: Former R’s manager talks administration, Steve McClaren and Ravel Morrison

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 12 September 2019, 08:33

The Sack Race chatted all things QPR with the club’s former player and manager: Ian Holloway.

The passionate gaffer opens up about his love for the club, and the whirlwind of emotions he went through during his first spell in charge; from the agony of administration and relegation, to the ecstasy of his first managerial promotion.

When he returned to the R’s dugout in 2016 he had to deal with financial difficulties once again, plus with the frustrating talent of Ravel Morrison, and finally the fallout of the Steve McClaren saga...

“I have a special affinity with QPR,” Holloway revealed to The Sack Race.

“This was fuelled by old boss Gerry Francis. The way he talked about QPR while at Bristol Rovers, the bloke made it sound so special. Then when I played for them we finished 5th in the Premier League, we were the top London club. To play in that team was an absolute joy.

“When I returned to QPR as manager everything went wrong.

“They were in administration - which I didn't know was going to happen - and I only had seven players - which I also didn’t know was going to happen. I had to fight with the administrators all the time. To tell you the truth they didn’t know what they were doing because it was the first time the football club had ever been through administration. It took me three years to get them back up, an achievement which meant the world to me.

“After suffering relegation it was a nice feeling to get promoted. Back at the time I made a statement: ‘Every dog has its day - and today is woof day! Today I just want to bark!’

“I felt I was learning all the time. You don’t properly learn until things go really wrong, and it shows character to keep coming back and to keep fighting.

“We managed to finish 11th back in the Championship (2004/05), and I’d cut the budget in half. It was a major thumbs up in my career. You ask anybody, to cut the business in half and make it almost as successful - if not exactly as successful - that takes some doing.”

Holloway would go on to manage Plymouth, Leicester, Blackpool, Crystal Palace, and Millwall before returning to QPR for a second spell in November 2016 - 10 years after he left the club...

“I had a three-year contract with Sky TV, which was pretty unusual. I told Sky that I’d definitely not move in the first year unless QPR came back in for me. So, blow me down the job became available, and I managed to get it.

“I saved the club a staggering amount of money each week. It’s common knowledge that they were asked to stop spending money, so wages wise I saved them a fortune. When you’ve got to get rid of a load of players that aren’t going to bring you in some cash - or saleable assets that are costing you a lot of money - you’re in danger of going down.

“I managed to keep them up, and some of the players my chief scout signed made the club profits, like Luke Freeman - bought by QPR for £315,000 and sold for £5.04m.

“I’m delighted in my affiliation with a wonderful football club and its supporters. I thank everyone at the club who helped me because it wasn’t easy. It’s like a tree, you’re trimming down the branches to make it grow again! It’s very difficult but I felt that the fans trusted me, and I thank them for their wonderful support.”

One of the players Holloway managed at QPR was Ravel Morrison, who is now at Sheffield United...

“I liked him, he had talent but he needed to be nurtured and helped. I wasn’t the only manager who thought that. Loads of us tried - Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp, myself - it’s his last chance now.

“Sir Alex Ferguson said Morrison could be one of the best England’s ever produced, but I’m not sure the boy has carried that pressure very well. I’ve never seen anyone move around so languidly and lazily, and lose their marker like he does.

“I believe he can do it though, I really do, but it’s knowing which position he should play in. Is he a No.10? Is he a No.8? Or is he a No.6 who sits just in front of the two centre-halves? You’ve got to make sure he doesn’t slow the game down too much, but I think the kid is wonderful, I absolutely love him to bits, and wish him all the very best.

“Under his brilliant manager - Chris Wilder - I hope he can fulfill his full potential. I want him to shine.

“Speaking of Wilder, I absolutely love him, he’s a genius. I love the way he’s doing things, and come the end of the day he will come out with the credit he deserves.

“Even Marcelo Bielsa said ‘well done’ to him last year because he’s doing things very differently. He’s a pioneer, and I’m very proud of him and his staff. I feel like Sheffield United are my second-best team, behind Bristol Rovers!

Holloway reluctantly departed QPR in May 2016 after 18 months at the helm. Within a week Steve McClaren had been appointed as his replacement, a decision which did not go down well with his predecessor...

“I had a year of my contract remaining, which I fully wanted to see out but the club decided to dispense off my services. They honoured everything that they needed to honour with me so I’ve not got an axe to grind with anybody. The only person I don’t like in it amongst it all is Steve McClaren.

“I don’t like him, I never will, and part of me - I’m going to be horrible here - is glad it didn’t work out for him.

"If I saw him today I’d have to tell him exactly what I think of him. We nearly crossed paths the other week but I refused to go. It is what it is. I’ve got no other problem with anybody else, I just don’t like Steve McClaren, and those reasons are private.

“If a Chairman ever rang me and said that they wanted to talk to me about becoming their manager, they’d have to have a vacant chair. The difficult thing for a manager is you can’t ask for a job until it becomes available, but when the job becomes available some people have already been through the back door!”

“I love QPR. I was gutted they got rid of me but it was an honour to manage them. I’m really pleased with the young lads they’ve got there, and I wish Mark Waburton all the best, I hope he does really well.”

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