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Holloway not smiling too much under Premier League media microscope
3:18pm Tuesday 17th September 2013 in Sport
EAGLES columnist WILL TAYLOR reckons Ian Holloway’s mood has darkened since Crystal Palace won promotion.
IT strikes me the longer Ian Holloway looks at his Premier League portrait, the more it depreciates in value.
The golden vision of the Promised Land he gazed upon back in May is now somewhat distorted, blurry even, with the edges beginning to fray and unravel.
It’s only been two years since Holloway’s plucky Blackpool side came agonisingly close to avoiding relegation, but it’s quite clear the Premier League is now a harsher playground.
The public microscope has increased its magnification on the top flight, with stats, social media and the piercing eye of Gary Neville eager to scrutinise every aspect of performance.
Holloway may have had another string to add to his budget this time round but he has found there will always be limited interest from desirable targets.
On numerous occasions over the summer, players used Palace as a sounding board to seek out interest from those clubs yet to be dubbed relegation fodder.
Darren Bent was even booked in for a medical before opting for the sanctuary of Craven Cottage, much to Holloway’s dismay.
Every week we will face an opposition boasting seven-figure players in every position and while the club has grown immeasurably over the past 12 months, it is still several steps behind. Despite an unrivalled 16 new faces arriving in SE25, the transfer window has left Holloway irritable and despondent.
The usually chirpy individual has spawned a wicked tongue, seemingly tired of his comical portrayal as one of the game’s many ‘characters’.
You will still laugh during his interviews but I’ve noticed very rarely will he be smiling with you.
Instead Holloway is visibly fighting back a wave of emotion, repressing the urge to unleash his honest opinion, which he has stated rather dramatically “doesn’t matter”.
Holloway is currently serving a two-match ban for comments and actions that should have been reserved for the inevitable occasion that the club are truly hard done by.
It was painfully obvious his animated presence on the touchline serves as a motivation for both players and supporters, which is one of many reasons Saturday’s offering against the champions lacked genuine confidence.
At Old Trafford, Holloway was seated uncomfortably next to Steve Parish.
Uncomfortable not because of any animosity between the two but due to the fact both were transfixed on the pitch, with Parish eager not to disrupt Holloway’s constant flow of feedback to the bench.
Speaking of which, recent reports depicting a falling out between manager and chairman appear completely unfounded.
It was ludicrous the Eagles boss was forced to waste time batting away suggestions his job was on the line a mere two games into the season.
I often sympathise with Holloway, who must feel he is partaking in a relentless game of Double Dutch with a procession of journalists on either side trying to trip him up.
Moving onto what’s important - the performance - and there is much to admire if not enjoy when Holloway erects his tactical barricade.
I certainly didn’t think he was capable of such discipline and strategic nous, instead perceiving him as a disciple of Harry Redknapp’s ‘go out and enjoy yourself’ brigade.
But aside from Robin van Persie’s exquisite bar-bashing volley, Julian Speroni was just another spectator during the first-half.
The back four were impenetrable, which makes it all the more frustrating a stray pass from captain fantastic Mile Jedinak effectively decided the outcome. Unfortunately the team was once again hampered by a severe lack of attacking guile in the final third.
This was perhaps understandable considering the daunting surroundings but the pinball passes that rattled their way up field had little direction or purpose.
However, even with 10 men we never looked like being ravaged by the champions and instead produced a display which had supporters singing until long after the final whistle.
But the most pleasing aspect for me this season is that Holloway has been able to expertly evaluate each performance with alarming accuracy.
There isn’t a bullish arrogance or delusional idea of what we are watching.
Holloway has perfectly summarised that we have often got carried away with the occasion, lacked belief in our movement and passing, while insisting that the nerves should now be behind us.
The Eagles boss signed off at the weekend insisting: “The emotion I feel at the moment is pride.”
And despite Jonjo Shelvey, another player we missed out on, helping/hindering Swansea to a point against Liverpool which sent Palace back into the relegation zone, I think pride is the overall feeling among fans as well.
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