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Monday, September 17, 2007

Holloway on Gianni Paladini and his QPR Departure

The Times - Crazy Gang? I can’t really say that they ever made me laugh

In extracts from Ollie, his autobiography, Ian Holloway recalls the torment of his time as a player with Wimbledon and the quite bizarre nature of his exit as QPR manager

....Holloway became manager of Queens Park Rangers in 2001. Two years later, Clarke Carlisle, the defender, was struggling with alcohol addiction and had gone Awol. In a post-match press conference Holloway deflected the situation with humour and forged a reputation as one of the sport’s most quotable managers.
I went upstairs, still in a bit of a mood [after a poor second-half performance during a victory over Chesterfield] to talk to the press. The first ten questions were about Clarke Carlisle and why he had been dropped, so I said it was an internal matter and I wouldn’t answer questions.
I managed to bat them all off without getting angry and then one bloke said: “You must have been delighted with that – what a fantastic performance.” So, typical me, moving off without checking my rear-view mirrors, I start waffling on about a bird in a taxi, not dreaming in a million years it would result in changing my life and how the majority of football fans viewed me.
I said that I was pleased with the result but not the performance, so I thought about how I could get the point across in a sentence and came out with: “It’s like when you meet a bird who’s not the best looking. You talk, things go well and she gets in a taxi with you, get her back home and lovely jubbly, let’s have coffee.” They were all sniggering and I thought: “Hang on, what’s going on?” I had said it before to my lads, but because I was talking about a high-profile club and comparing it to a night on the pull, they couldn’t believe it.
The next day I got a call from Clarke Carlisle at 7pm on the Sunday evening and I said: “Where the hell have you been?”
He said: “Ollie, can I come and see you?”
I told him to come and see me at my house and I wrote everything down we spoke of because it was a very serious club matter. The lad needed help and because he had asked for it, I believed we could help him. What the “let’s have coffee” quote had done was defuse a difficult situation and shifted the spotlight away from him at a difficult time.
I knew the press would be calling me mad old Ian Holloway again, but the real reason I had said what I had was to help a player who needed it. Tim Lovejoy, the Soccer AM presenter at the time, must have been intrigued by the quote and he invited me on to the show, the first of many memorable visits, but I didn’t expect it to cause such interest and I didn’t mean it to be derogatory to any young women because I thought they would do the same thing. If they go out and all the best ones have gone, I think they, too, might go: “OK, let’s have another look at him.”
A few people called me mad after that, which is unfair, and that’s something I wasn’t overly happy with. I’m not. I just use humour in my life.
And my thinking is, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what sort of person are you? I don’t laugh at people, I laugh with them and if that involves me, so what? I think that cuts through an awful lot of problems.

Holloway took QPR into the Coca-Cola Championship but soon relations between him and Gianni Paladini, the front-man of a consortium that had bought the club, became strained. Paladini gave permission for Holloway to talk to Leicester City, although he did not want the job. Worried because he was having treatment for skin cancer, Holloway feared that he was being forced out as he prepared for a game against Leeds United in February 2006. He was called into the Leeds manager’s office to hear some surprising news.
As I walked into Elland Road, Sam Ellis, the Leeds No 2 looked at me as if he had seen a ghost. He said: “Ollie, I didn’t expect to see you here.” I laughed and said that the Leicester thing was all rubbish: “No, not because of that. Come in here a minute.” I walked into the office of Kevin Blackwell [the Leeds manager] with Sam.
Kevin arrived a moment later and said: “Ollie, I didn’t think I’d see you today. Listen to this.” He put his mobile phone on loud speaker and played a message. It went: “Hello, Kevin, it’s Ken Bates [the Leeds chairman]. Just talking to Paladini upstairs. He said he’s sacked Holloway and they’ve got [Phil] Barnes in goal [on loan] from Sheffield United.” As far as I’m aware, Ken Bates knew something only me, Neil Warnock [the Sheffield United manager], his secretary, my secretary and Gianni knew. I’ve no beef with Ken Bates because he was doing what any chairman would do if he felt it benefited his club and was merely passing on information that his manager might have been able to use. Kevin was only doing what I believe he would hope I’d do for him if I was in a similar situation – which, of course, I would because it was the right thing to do. Talk about undermining me before a game.
I did the team talk and made a few changes - in fact, it was more like Queens Park Strangers than Queen Park Rangers and although we did reasonably well, we lost 2-0."
" Ollie by Ian Holloway is published by Green Umbrella at £16.99. For more details go to ollieontour.co.uk. Copies can be ordered for £15.29 with free delivery from The Times BooksFirst on 0870 160 8080 The Times

See Also: "Ex-QPR's Ian Holloway's Autobiography Set for Publication"

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