Ex-Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway needs to refine his own Fosbury Flop
Ian Holloway needs to draw inspiration from the Fosbury Flop after walking away from Crystal Palace this week, writes Kieran Beckles
Encouragement, Enthusiasm, Enjoyment; These were among the final words of what would turn out to be Ian Holloway’s penultimate pre-match media conference at Crystal Palace.
The Eagles manager had faced a 20-minute grilling about about an imminent trip to Liverpool and his side’s ability before being sprung a rather different question.
What catchphrase would Holloway scribble on the whiteboard in the away dressing room before kick-off at Anfield?
Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied: “I only work on three: Encouragement, enthusiasm, and enjoyment. They all start with three. It took me a while to work that out – and how to spell them!
“In life, if you haven’t got the first one, you’ll lose the second one and you’ll never get the last one.”
And that, in a nutshell, was what prompted Holloway to walk away from Palace on Tuesday evening after back-to-back losses at Liverpool and a 4-1 trouncing at home to Fulham.
After a chaotic summer which saw 15 new faces arrive at Selhurst Park – and two of the signings didn’t even make the cut for Palace’s 25-man squad – Holloway felt he had lost the dressing room.
Failing to garner encouragement from the performances of his Palace players, whose faith had diminished in their manager, Holloway’s enthusiasm had evaporated and the joys of management were gone.
“Last week I was out building up the energy of the club but maybe I’ve not got the energy left to take on and stop, or even beat, Arsenal this weekend,” Holloway said at his farewell media conference.
“I’m just tired. I miss my grandson. I just need some time to chill out.”
Rewinding two weeks to his penultimate media briefing at Selhurst Park, Holloway was almost prophetic as he discussed their run of bad luck.
“All we need is a break – and to be honest – at the moment we’re not getting the breaks, I can tell you.”
A reference to Ashley Young’s dive which resulted in Palace being reduced to 10-men at Old Trafford and spurred Manchester United to a 2-0 victory.
Palace conceded an early goal in their subsequent 2-0 loss to Swansea before Holloway had to defuse a half-time “ruckus” between Marouane Chamkah and Dean Moxey in a defeat at Southampton.
But, it would get worse for Holloway following a 3-1 trouncing at Liverpool.
Leading 1-0 in a must-win clash against Fulham, Pajtim Kasami conjured an unstoppable volley before Steve Sidwell scored the night’s second wonder goal as the Cottagers ran out 4-1 winners.
When asked about the importance of giving the manager time at that same media conference, Holloway pointed to the sustained success of Arsenal and Liverpool in the past, and United’s current dominance.
The key word, in his eyes, was stability.
“If it’s more important that we stay in the division – well that’s not why I’m here. I want to do everything we can. But more important is the blueprint of what you want to do.”
Whilst Holloway calling it quits is hardly the stimulant to breed the stability that he preaches, 15 summer signings doesn’t give the impression of an owner content to suffer relegation this season for the long-term benefit of the club.
Holloway has always done things his own way – just look at his first Premier League adventure with Blackpool.
Widely written off ahead of the 2010-11 campaign, the Tangerines played attacking and expansive football and weren’t relegated until the final day of the season.
So it should come as no surprise that Holloway’s holds a special respect for Dick Fosbury and his Fosbury Flop. The high jumper revolutionised his sport by effectively jumping backwards over the bar, winning Olympic gold in Mexico 1968.
“Before the Fosbury Flop, everyone jumped forward,” he said. “Mr Fosbury thought, ‘I’m going to do it this way’ – and now everybody does it his way.
“The truth about football is that it evolves all the time. You have to be open and willing and want to evolve. We’ve got to change. We’ve got to not be so scared.”
Holloway’s second Premier League stint may have ended prematurely and in failure, but the personable manager, who spent 10 minutes talking to the media despite his obligations ending in that penultimate conference, will be back.
After all, Fosbury struggled to produce results in the lead up to the Mexico Olympics before everything clicked into place and he cemented his place in history.
“Someone bet me I couldn’t clear a stuffed leather chair,” Fosbury said of his initial struggles. “Not only did I lose the bet, I also broke my hand in the crash landing.”
It echoes of Holloway, who just week, admitted he could sell a fridge to an Eskimo if the Bristol-born coach believed in his own ability to do so.
So, for now, like Fosbury at the start of his own career, Holloway needs to expand on his own philosophy in preparation for his next stint in management.