Controversial Blackpool coach Ian Holloway added a dose of hilarity to this weekend’s $140 million doomsday showdown by launching into an extraordinary rant against English Premier League chiefs.
Blackpool is one of five teams trying to avoid relegation from the top division and the ensuing financial catastrophe it would bring. Holloway insisted that the powers in charge of the EPL would love to see his team drop out of the league.
Holloway was incensed by suggestions that Manchester United, Blackpool’s final day opponent Sunday, could be fined if it fields a weakened team in order to rest its players ahead of next week’s Champions League final. Cue the 48-year-old boss to offer a stinging, and, er, intergalactic attack on the EPL hierarchy.
“These people running the game, what planet are they on?” Holloway said. “They must have been beamed down from the planet Zarf. They are not in the right world.”
A cursory check by Yahoo! Sports revealed, unsurprisingly, that no such planet exists in the known galactic system, yet Holloway’s latest explosion added further intrigue into what promises to be a tense conclusion to the campaign.
The extraordinary amount of television money received by EPL clubs means teams that are relegated face a tough and uncertain future if their finances are not handled with extreme care. In most cases, heavy cost-cutting measures are put into place with relegated clubs often offloading several players.
West Ham was the first team to suffer the drop when it lost to Wigan last weekend. Blackpool, Wigan and Birmingham are all tied on 39 points, while Wolves and Blackburn are on 40 and not safe, either.
On paper, Holloway’s team has the most difficult task, having to win at Old Trafford to give itself a realistic chance of staying up. United is unbeaten at home this season, clinched the EPL crown last week and is in a rich vein of form.
[Related: Ian Holloway strokes Alex Ferguson's ego]
However, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is committed to using a makeshift squad for the match in order for his first-choice players to be fully rested for the Champions League final against Barcelona at Wembley Stadium on May 28.
EPL rules frown upon clubs using weakened teams in the interest of competitive fairness, and rumors swirled this week that United risks a heavy fine, much to Holloway’s dismay.
“[The authorities] will be relieved if we lose and get relegated,” he said. “Then I am not badgering them. I am so annoyed. Sir Alex Ferguson is a winner. He would never dream of not being interested in winning any match.
“That man deserves to pick whatever team he wants to pick. No one should question it. Look at his record.”
However, Holloway is not the only beleaguered boss who has cause for angst. Birmingham’s Alex McLeish was infuriated when several of his players stayed out drinking until 4 a.m. Tuesday following a club awards function.
The booze session was revealed by Becky Doyle, wife of backup goalkeeper Colin Doyle, when she posted on Twitter that her husband had been reveling with first-choice keeper Ben Foster.
“Pissed off with my husband for getting in at 4 a.m. with Fossy [Foster] and waking me up,” wrote Becky in a post that was later deleted. “Celebrate next week when you’re safe. Have some respect.”
McLeish described the players’ conduct as “an error of judgment.”
Birmingham visits Tottenham on Sunday, Wigan travels to Stoke and Wolves hosts Blackburn on the afternoon where the craziness of the preceding week will boil down to 90 minutes of cold, hard reality.
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