Why Ian Holloway has found his home again at Queens Park Rangers
Saturday’s win against high flying Norwich provided the perfect start to Ian Holloway’s return to the Loftus Road dugout, following his reappointment during the international break. It is Ollie’s first managerial role since being sacked by Millwall in March last year (the first sacking of his managerial career), a club he says didn’t ‘get him’.
Between then and now Sky Sports hired him as the face of their expanding football league coverage, it seemed a perfect match for one of sports biggest personalities and most famously quotable people in the game. Despite a decent effort, something never quite clicked. When Ollie wasn’t being toured around the country in a bus bearing his own smirking grin, his role felt like one of an extra, an opinions man who could say anything with claimed validity due to his experience; regardless of its relevance or accuracy.
The dugout is where he belongs, despite a mixed record Queens Park Rangers could do much worse than a familiar face who did eventually succeeded in his first stint (following initial relegation). In 10 years since the club have had 16 managers and may benefit should they again give Holloway time and flexibility, it is fair to say the club are aiming for stability.
Unlike in the past, club Chairman Tony Fernandes will no longer fund obscene splurges in the transfer market that were common place during their time in the Premier League. Yet this shouldn’t bother Holloway, whose greatest managerial accomplishment to date has been taking Blackpool to the top flight; regardless of their status at the time of relegation favourites and having a much smaller budget than other challenging teams.
This is good news for everyone at Loftus Road, from the owners to the fans of a club who, when last relegated from the Premier League, had debts of nearly £200m and a ludicrous wage bill which amounted for 85% of turnover even when it included the lucrative TV millions. Despite the troublesome numbers behind the club, Holloway and the playing staff can push on from their position.
Having avoided the sort of devastating financial collapse that almost finished Portsmouth, and maintaining championship security last year, the R’s remain only one good season away from the world’s richest league. This its self should not be taken for granted considering Wolves, Bolton, Blackpool and Wigan, amongst others, all found themselves relegated twice or more shortly after dropping from the top flight.
Currently in mid-table after an indifferent start to the season, Holloway’s ambition to push the club towards the playoffs is an achievable target as the club continues to recover from vast departures that took place over summer, including those of Matt Phillips, Junior Hoilett and Leroy Fer who had each been regular starters and key players.
They still posses a capable squad, rid of the individual ego’s previous managers had complained about; players often labelled as mercenaries there only for the hefty wage packets. In Connor Washington and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (currently loaned to Gillingham) they have two attackers they should demand much more from. Expect Emmanuel-Thomas to Fulfil the hype from his time at Bristol City and England youth set-ups should Holloway bring him back into the fold.
It will be interesting to see how quickly the manager’s famously attack minded style will be incorporated and how effective it can be in an extremely competitive division. Last time Ollie returned from time away from the dugout the charismatic Bristolian had his greatest success. Both him and the club will be hoping for a repeat. In the mean time they should be buoyed by his infectious enthusiasm for the game and a guarantee that whatever happens, it’ll certainly be entertaining. If Saturday’s early red card for Norwich is anything to go by, Holloway may just be the lucky charm the club have been waiting for.
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