Football Insights - Ian Holloway

Speaking to Genting Casino, ex-Bristol Rovers, QPR, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester City, Blackpool, Crystal Palace, Millwall and Grimsby Town manager Ian Holloway breaks down his predictions for the weekend in the EFL.

- Michael Beale not an upgrade on Tony Mowbray

- Steven Schumacher should stay at Plymouth

- I can’t see anything stopping Portsmouth from winning League One


What are you predicting for Crystal Palace vs Brighton? 

IH: “It will be a very interesting game. I was lucky enough to watch Man City vs Crystal Palace on Saturday, I was on City TV for the first time. It was quite a surreal game. Roy Hodgson knows what he's doing, he organises the team brilliantly to defend and made sure they limited Man City to few chances. 

“Second half they (Palace) came out from behind their gloves, a bit like Muhammad Ali did! They went 'bang, bang' and took two chances to get a point out of the game. It was quite amazing, really. 

“He'll (Roy) look at that fixture and be rubbing his hands together. They couldn't be going into it in better shape after drawing against Man City. 

“You have to take your hats off to Brighton and how well they've done. The club has grown. They didn't have a ground and now look at the AMEX and what they are building. Roberto De Zerbi is a great fella but it will be a very tough game.  

“I'm going to stick with the Palace, I think they'll come out on top, mainly because they will be buoyed by that great performance (at Man City) after things hadn't been going their way. 

Olise was fantastic at the weekend! What a fantastic talent he is. I think there will just be one goal. 

“I’m going for Crystal Palace 1-0 Brighton.” 

Is it a big derby? 

IH: “I didn't understand it (the rivalry). I used to say 'How is this a derby?' With the two clubs being that far away from each other. But it's a massive, massive fixture.  

“I just love the way Palace are and the relationships they build with Dougie Freedman (director of football) being back there and asking Roy to go back. It was a masterstroke by Steve Parish, so, well done.  

“It's nice to see teams play in different ways. I was watching Liverpool vs Man Utd last and was shouting at the TV 'Don't play out at the back there' because Liverpool were waiting for it.  

“But you could then see Man Utd growing in confidence. It only takes a little bit (of confidence) and I saw Crystal Palace players buoyed by their result at the weekend and I think they'll take it into that game. 

“But I also want to praise Brighton as they're a club that has done as well as any club in the world if you look at them and Brentford. They've established themselves in a higher division and are looking to grow. Well done to them.” 

Prediction for Leeds vs Ipswich? 

IH: “They (Leeds) held on to a good squad. It's very difficult when you come down when Leeds did, there's a lot of changes. But they've got a nucleus of a Premier League side there. For me, it's the hardest thing to do. Everyone wants to leave like rats leaving a sinking ship, but that didn't seem to happen with Leeds. 

“They had been down in the doldrums and got back to the Premier League with the absolutely magnificent Bielsa. I almost shed some tears when he left! He was so different and unique. But Leeds will come bouncing back. 

“I'm a big fan of Kieran McKenna. If you watch how they've moulded things off the pitch, I've seen them (players and staff) go out together and get Ed Sheeran in the dressing room. You have to bond your team together.  

“Ipswich used to be a terrible place to play because they weren't pleasing the fans under Mick McCarthy.  Those fans were desperate to get back up and out of the lower divisions because they hadn't tasted it in years. Now Kieran has made it a wonderful place to be and they're going for it.  

“They look like they're built to move forward and step higher into another division. Good luck to them. He still hasn't done it (won promotion to the PL) yet, but I love the way he's built an 'invincible' atmosphere within his team. 

“It should be a great game. Both teams have almost too much to lose at this stage, I can only see it ending even. I think all the players will rise to the occasion.  

“I’m going for Leeds 1-1 Ipswich.” 

How do you build camaraderie in a team like Kieran McKenna has done? 

IH: “I rented out a splash and slide at Blackpool when we weren't playing so well. It was just us in there being big kids and I let the players get some food and have a poker tournament next door. They weren't expecting it! 

“You've got to do different things. It's not going the way you want, how are you going to get them motivated? It's not about telling them off all the time, it's about reinforcing your belief in them.  

Off the field, you have to do things that can sometimes be fun but also be horrible, like a cross-country run and going to the beach on a frosty morning. But sometimes I took the players to a cafe when they were expecting to go training.  

“It's all about getting the players to buy into the same thing. You can see that at Ipswich Kieran has been brought up at Manchester United and obviously understands how serious it (football) must be, but it's great to see a young manager letting his team relax and do some different things.  

“It's big-time getting Ed Sheeran involved, it's a bit special!” 

Prediction for Middlesbrough vs WBA? 

IH: “I had the pleasure of interviewing Carlos Corberan after he got to Wembley with Huddersfield and I even wanted to sign up and play under him! I thought I had enthusiasm but he left me in the shade. His knowledge of a young coach was powerful, you could feel how much he loved the game and why he is doing so well. 

“I was delighted that he got a job at a club as big as West Bromwich Albion and he's done a fantastic job already.  

“Can Michael Carrick help Middlesbrough break through? Can he help them get to the promised land? Everybody wants that job (Middlesbrough manager) and the chairman is great to work for.  

“Hopefully, he can. They fell away a bit last year but I love his style, I love how calm he is. I love that he never gives his players any stick, it's the modern way. I'm sure he has the knowledge to get a team promoted.  

“I can only see this game finishing level. It's too close to call. I’m going for Middlesbrough 1-1 Ipswich.” 

What does it take for promotion?  

IH: “There is such great quality in the Championship and in the depths of each squad. It's all about that little bit extra your team has got. That little bit of togetherness, that little bit of fight, the balance between the skill and will. It's almost too close to call. 

“Obviously, Leicester look like they might run away with it and Ipswich are also thereabouts. Leeds are almost there but are 10 points behind now. 

“It's all about being consistent and keeping going, not getting a couple of injuries at the wrong time and also it's about the next transfer window. 

“But I don't think the Championship has ever been tougher. Look at who has come down and who they have kept and the advantage that might give them. Look who has come up and is soaring, wow! It's the league to watch for me. 

“I get more pleasure out of watching a Championship game than I do seeing someone hang on to Man City's coattails.”  

Prediction for Plymouth vs Birmingham? 

IH: “I've heard an awful lot about Wayne Rooney. I had the privilege of talking to Liam Rosenior and how he spoke about Wayne was quite amazing, honestly. 

“The empathy that he's got (is impressive). It's unusual for someone as good as Wayne because normally they're asking you to be as good as them. Wayne is apparently not like that, he's got so much empathy. It's not how the media perceive him to be. 

“It's just awkward how he got the job and the time he got it. Eustace was doing so well and it was unusual for Birmingham to make a decision like that. Obviously, they have lofty ambitions.  

It was a big shock to the players. If you're in the top six, you don't expect your manager to get the sack if he's earned his stripes and is doing the job brilliantly. But, when ownership changes, they usually want their own man. It was a little bit strange. 

“Give Wayne Rooney time, it's just been awkward for the players. I believe in Wayne, I think he's going to be as good a manager as he was a player. It's just a slightly odd scenario. Moving on to Plymouth, Schumacher is an absolutely fantastic coach. He's getting linked to the Stoke job, but my advice is to stay where you are, stay with the Green Army!  

“The pitch is fantastic, Home Park is a wonderful ground. You don't need to look anywhere else, you can do it at that wonderful club, just keep going. It's brilliant what he's been doing, I really like him.  

“I think it will end in a Plymouth win with the odd goal. Plymouth 2-1 Birmingham.”  

Prediction for Stoke vs Millwall?  

IH: “I am shocked at how easily owners think you can take off one jumper, put on another and you'll be warmer (Stoke owners changing managers). It doesn't make sense. You need to be given time in football to change anything, you have to be given patience, and you have to be given complete control. But clubs don't like doing that anymore. 

“The more people you have above you, the more difficult it becomes to build a relationship with the owners. That's what is going wrong with football. That's why we're seeing so many changes. The owners aren't committing to the manager and their relationship isn't what it should be.  

“How many of the players were bought by the management? How much does Peter Coates do now? Is it his son, or someone else? It must be so hard for the manager to build a relationship with the owner. If your relationship is being undermined, you have no chance.  

“I feel for Millwall, losing John Berylson and then with Gary Rowett leaving. I really do feel for them, they are an example of what having a great relationship can do. Unfortunately, they missed out on the play-offs on the last day and it must have felt horrible for them. 

“I can see this game ending in a draw. I think it will be Stoke 0-0 Millwall.” 

Prediction for Bristol City vs Hull? 

IH: “I saw Liam Rosenior take a session and spoke to him for a documentary. I asked what he thought might happen if Hull didn't do very well and he said "I don't worry about that." He's such an enthusiastic fella. 

“He goes so deep into what he wants the team to be and what he wants you to do in that structure. It was a joy to be with him and see him take training. It was a very positive experience for me. I felt jealous that I wasn't young enough and good enough to be playing for him. I think it's a wise decision to give him a new deal, they could well be on the march.  

“I think Bristol City have done well. I was very disappointed they got rid of Nigel Pearson while he had health issues, he is a great friend of mine. Curtis Fleming was his assistant and I thought they were doing a good job.  

“Obviously, they've given the job to Liam Manning and they've got some great young players. They keep on selling, though. Are they investing enough in the people they bring in after the other players have gone? 

“At the end of the day, the skill of selling someone for £28 million is also about replacing them for £12.5-£15 million to then sell those players for £30-£40 million. That's what your Brentford's and Brighton's do.  

“Bristol City are doing the selling but I don't see them doing the selling. In the long term, I worry about that. But the ground is getting better, the venue is wonderful and the fans create a great atmosphere. Hopefully, they'll be patient with Manning. 

“How do I see this going? A home win for Bristol City. Bristol City 2-1 Hull City.” 

Prediction for Sunderland vs Coventry? 

IH: “I don’t know Michael Beale personally, but I know he has quite a big following and gets good jobs, even if he hasn't done very well in his previous role. After losing his job in Scotland and ending up with the Sunderland one, he should count himself very lucky. 

“I don't think it's an upgrade on Tony Mowbray. Tony was doing a fantastic job, he has been consistent and played good football with young squads. I think he's a fantastic manager and I don't think the position they were in the league was worthy of him losing the job. It seems strange. 

“Does being Gerrard's assistant make him (Beale) a top manager? I'm not sure. 

“I like Coventry and think Mark Robins is absolutely brilliant. It's been hard to follow after reaching the play-offs last year. It will be tough for Beale, I don't think he'll be at the club long enough to get a victory and he won't get the bounce.  

“Sunderland 0-2 Coventry.” 

Prediction for Bristol Rovers vs Blackpool? 

IH: “Two of my clubs, wonderful! Matt Taylor has just got his feet under the table and got his first win away at Bolton.  

“It's a difficult one. Blackpool have picked up under Neil Critchley, it was nice to see him go back there but he probably shouldn't have left in the first place and become an assistant manager.  

“Bristol Rovers 1-1 Blackpool.” 

Prediction for Portsmouth vs Fleetwood? 

IH: “It's one hell of an achievement, Pompey being six points clear at the top. It raised my eyebrows when he (John Mousinho) got the job at a club as big as Portsmouth. I did have a scratch on my head, to be honest. It's a club I would like to manage because you never lose the crowd, they are always there. 

“To be that consistent in a league which is so competitive is fantastic. It's the Christmas period that could be a struggle. You're worried about suspensions, bookings and injuries. Can they get through this huge period of real close-fought fixtures? I don't see any reason why they can't unless they get suspensions or injuries. But their discipline record is very impressive. They have everything going for them at the minute. 

“There will be a few bumps but I can't see them falling away. They look too good to me, they look too clean in what they are doing. It's not lucky, they are playing really well. I can see them beating Fleetwood at home. Maybe by the odd goal. Portsmouth 2-1 Fleetwood.” 

Prediction for Reading vs Wigan? 

IH: “Both clubs are an example of how not to do it. The rules are there to be broken. It's crippling for clubs. My club is Bristol Rovers and we've had some ups and downs, but I wouldn't dream of watching anyone else. This is what Reading and Wigan supporters are having to worry about. 

“I feel for them. Hopefully, new owners will get it right. Football is in a strange way, but you must have rules and unfortunately, they have ended on the wrong side of them. 

My message to the fans is, 'stick with it.' 

“Sean Maloney is a great talent and has a fantastic footballing brain. It's great these lads are getting the opportunity. He was always a very talented footballer and for me, that's what I see in his management. He's put his own mark on Wigan and is not copying Man City.  

“You need to be your own gaffer and that's what Sean is doing. Well done and good luck to him.” 

Prediction for Shrewsbury vs Peterborough?  

IH: “I'd love to see Darren Ferguson in the higher divisions with an increased budget, where they are able to keep their best players. They've done well by selling, look at how many goals they've sold over the years. It's absolutely incredible.  

“If you look at what Darren has done, it's all about the relationship he has with Darragh MacAnthony. They keep breaking up and getting back together but I'd love to see them stay together and have a good go at the Championship.  

“That's where they will be next year. I'm very confident in that. They're so consistent and play a great attacking game. Darren deserves all sorts of credit. How tough must it be for him to try to follow in his dad's footsteps? His dad was the best. I don't think Darren gets anywhere near the credit he deserves, for how good a manager he is. Hopefully, he'll get them up and they will stay in the Championship. 

“I can see them beating Shrewsbury by the odd goal. I fell out with the Shrewsbury chairman when I was at Bristol Rovers, so I'm always going to be cheering on Peterborough. Shrewsbury 1-2 Peterborough.” 




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