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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ian Holloway & Blackpool

It's emerge today that Blackpool Football Club have been fined £25,000 for fielding a weakened side at Villa Park on 10 November. He made 10 changes to the team from that fielded against Everton at Bloomfield Road, and after the Aston Villa game, which Blackpool lost by 3-2, Holloway said he had to make changes because his regular players were struggling to keep up with a hectic game schedule. On the point about fielding a weakened side and possible sanctions for doing so, Holloway said:

"If some bright spark from the Premier League wants to tell me who I can pick, then come and have a cup of coffee and you'll probably get it chucked in your lap.....Let them try and fine me, it's an absolute disgrace. I'll show the Premier League. We were a credit to football, and let the Premier League try to tell me otherwise."

It was stated that Holloway had threatened to resign if the Premier League were to fine the club, albeit if that was what his chairman, Karl Oyston would agree was in the best interest of the club. So no, Holloway will not be resigning as a result of this fine, because he has done magnificently at Blackpool, getting them into the top flight after an absence of three decades, done the double over Liverpool, beaten other teams and positioned the club in 12th place so far.

But, the same thing happened to Mick McCarthy of Wolves, who fielded a weakened side against Man United at Old Trafford on 15th December , in anticipation of a Burnley game five days later at Molineux which seemed easier to approach for points. Wolves had played, and beaten, Spurs at White Hart Lane 0-1 on the 12th December, and McCarthy made 10 changes to that side to field at OT. Wolves was fined £25,000, which was suspended due to mitigating circumstances submitted by Wolves with which the Premier League had sympathy.

The difference with that verdict and Blackpool's is that the Premier League also took into consideration Blackpool fielded a weakened side against Southampton at The St. Mary's Stadium on 8th January, prioritising the league game at home four days later against Liverpool in the league. Holloway had made nine changes from the side beaten by Birmingham on the 4th January at Bloomsfield to field against Southampton, and he was blatant on TV saying he would do so. He did not fancy Blackpool's chances in the competition, stating that staying up was his main priority.

My point is, the manager is the forefront runner for selection. He picks the team he feels is best for the game, and if that selection is dependable on fighting relegation, seeking promotion, seeking to raise up the table to get into a European place, or is based on an opposition too good for his side, then that's his prerogative. It's his team, let him pick who he wants to, from his squad, because it's his neck on the line.

Arsene Wenger, for one, took Arsenal into the 2nd leg of the Carling Cup semi-final, fielding the likes of Andrei Arshavin, Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, practically a full strength side, when in the past he has fielded mainly the younger players in the squad. He could have done, but he appeared to have focused on getting into the final much more and did away with a young team for his more EPL choice.

But that was his choice, not one the Premier League favoured. I don't think clubs should be fined for fielding players they would usually not field. As long as a player who plays for a club has the right to, then leave it to the manager to choose who he wants to choose from his squad.



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