IAN HOLLOWAY’S trip to Bramall Lane on Sunday as part of Sky’s live TV coverage was unremarkable except for comments which illustrate the growing divide between football fans and the game’s professionals.
By his own admission the man who has managed seven clubs in the last 19 years and was sacked by Millwall in March, hadn’t been to Sheffield United in “quite a while”.
If he had been a more frequent visitor he may have thought better of blaming Unitedites for hindering their team’s performance after a scrappy but significant 1-0 win against Coventry.
“Maybe the crowd needed to be with them a little bit more,” he said. “I thought they were a hinderance. It was ‘attack, attack, attack’. Sometimes you have to allow time for your team to pass and play.”
No-one could seriously question Holloway’s football knowledge. The man who now trades on his West Country cheeky chappy image as a pundit deserves more respect than that.
For the record, on Sunday United fans did what they have done week-in week-out for as long as I can remember and in particular the last five-and-a-half years. Stand shoulder to shoulder behind a club which specialises in the ability to disappoint. They have been watching the team ‘pass and play’ from side to side without much end product for at least half a decade.
'FEEL THE TENSION'
Yet despite another season of serious under performance which sees United in mid-table, nine points behind the stated objective of automatic promotion and 14 points behind leaders Burton Albion, Holloway considers it fit to criticise the home supporters for, wait for it…urging their team to victory.
“You could feel the tension around the place,” observed Holloway. Maybe that was because United hadn’t won a match in League One since October 20 and defeat against the Sky Blues, second in the table, would have left the Blades 12 points adrift of an automatic promotion place. Nobody wants a sixth year in the wilderness and given the club’s play-offs record few wish to contemplate that route unless they have to.
Holloway of all people should realise there is a back story. Statistics show his managerial career has produced just 21 more wins than defeats. A win percentage of 36 per cent. Taken on face value it doesn’t appear impressive.
Set against winning promotions to the Premier League with Blackpool and then Crystal Palace and promotion to the Championship with QPR it looks much more favourable.
Unless, of course, you choose to focus on the negative as Holloway opted to do at the Lane. I’m talking of relegations with QPR and Leicester. Being dismissed by Millwall prior to this season’s drop into League One, put on gardening leave at QPR when his flirtations with Leicester became known and subsequently leaving Plymouth in the lurch when he eventually joined the Foxes.
Holloway is being paid by Sky to offer considered opinion. The least he could do is his homework rather than just turning up and uttering random thoughts with little consideration for the facts. But blaming fans is an area where well paid football folk, in the game and on the sidelines, excel.
Speaking of which someone should tell Holloway that apart from doing his homework, there are other aspects of professional pride to being a pundit. Asked for his view of the incident when Coventry thought they had taken the lead after the ball appeared to cross the line, he said: “I didn’t see it, I was on my way to the toilet.”