Once Upon A Time In Olliewood: Ian Holloway Talks Player-Manager Fall-Outs

Ian Holloway by Ian Holloway / 29 August 2019, 08:27

The Sack Race caught up with Ian Holloway for the opening chapter of his new Once Upon A Time In Olliewood series in which he reminisces about various stories from his managerial career to date.

In the first edition, Ian talks about the challenge of managing goal-hungry strikers who are desperate for more game time...

Centre-forwards are like racehorses, they are a bit temperamental. A normal horse is fine but a twitchy racehorse is all over the shop.

I’ve had problems with centre-forwards because all they want to do is score goals. They moan at you if they’re not starting. They don’t realise that they can come off the bench and make an impact, it’s all about them, and it’s all about scoring goals.

I had it all the time with Jamie Cureton and Jason Roberts, but the worst was Tony Thorpe!

In my second managerial job at QPR after I bought him from Luton, I said to him: ‘I want to get promoted and you’re going to help me whether I pick you or not’. Every time he was on the bench he would be moaning at me, kicking balls at me, he was an absolute joke but I loved him for it because he wanted to play and he wanted to score.

Thorpey just kept on saying to me ‘you like Jamie more than me’ because I had managed Cureton before at Bristol Rovers. I liked Cureton for the balance in the team, and I liked Thorpe off the bench because he would make more of an impact than Cureton would. I constantly had arguments with Thorpe about what Cureton gave me during the game, and how he was better coming off the bench.

At the end of the day, it was only because he wanted to play, he was used to playing, and he believed in his ability. When you believe in your ability to score a goal and then you look at your manager as the one who is not giving you the opportunity to do that, I would rather have people say that to me, and I used to argue with Tony as sometimes it would affect his training as he would sulk a bit.

But deep down it was great for me as I had Gary Penrice as my assistant manager and attacking coach, so I used to throw him the centre forwards all the time. I’d have an argument with a player then tell him: ‘get over there, get out of my way, go and practice finishing’. I used it in a certain way but I never fancied anybody more than anybody else - goalscorers are a premium and you have to stack them and rack them if you’re going to be any good.

Not all strikers are like Kevin Phillips. When I had him - at Blackpool then Crystal Palace - he was 36 and he realised that he just had to get ready to score a goal whenever the gaffer wanted to pick him, whether it was as a sub or from starting, it didn’t bother him. But he was only like that at the end of his career. He looked at every minute on the pitch as a chance to score. It was his job. He went on until he was 40 and at the end he said he could only do that with maturity.

The one I used to feel for was David Fairclough at Liverpool. All those years ago he used to come off the bench and score. He was always on the bench as he had Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush ahead of him. But he got loads of winners medals.

If you look at Man Utd’s treble-winning season with Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Champions League final. They both scored and turned the game around. That’s what it’s all about for me, as a manager you love that as it means I’m doing something right if your players start moaning at you!

Managers Departed

Last man down

Russ Wilcox
Russ Wilcox
(Scunthorpe United)
7th August
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