Editor's Blog
November 12, 2010

Managers must be allowed to pick their own team

Posted by Alex Livie on 12/11/2010

Ian Holloway is in danger of picking up a rentaquote moniker following some of his outlandish comments and press conferences of late, but he must be defended for his latest rant.

For those not familiar with the tale, Holloway made 10 changes to his Blackpool side for the trip to Aston Villa. They were beaten, but only by a late goal and were worthy of a point.

But since the game he has had to face accusations of fielding a weakened team and the Premier League is investigating.

Holloway has said he will quit if he or the club is punished, making it clear that he will not be dictated to on team selection. And that is the point, HE is paid to manage Blackpool to the best of his abilities - not some rulemaker at Premier League towers.

The Premier League brought in a rule at the start of the season saying that teams must deliver a squad of 25 players, 17 of which can be from outside England, and pick from that. All the players picked by Holloway for the trip to Villa were from that 25 – aside from Matthew Phillips who is under 21 so does not need to be named in the squad. If he is punished, it would make a mockery of the decision to have a 25-man squad.

Not every club can afford 25 superstars but by setting a cap of 25, the Premier League is saying they are good enough to be in the team. That cannot suddenly be changed because Holloway made ten changes as opposed to one or two. It might not have been conventional but it was his decision. And the Premier League has to see that.