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Holloway's winning ways

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Phil McNulty | 11:24 UK time, Thursday, 13 January 2011

Jimmy Armfield jokes that when the fixtures were published for Blackpool's return to English football's top tier after a 40-year absence he studied them with great care - to work out when they might win their first corner.

Blackpool were every pundit's favourites for relegation and most realists in the grand old seaside town were bracing themselves for a one-season ride on the domestic game's equivalent of the "Big One".

And yet, under the inspirational leadership of manager Ian Holloway, the Seasiders have emerged as one of the stories of the Premier League campaign, capped by a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Bloomfield Road on Wednesday that gave them the double over the Anfield giants.

Blackpool have already secured 28 points towards the recognised survival target of 40 - seven points behind Chelsea with a game in hand, if you are real romantic - and club legend Armfield is marvelling at the feats achieved by Holloway and his players.

Armfield was at Bloomfield Road, where a stand is named after the former England captain, to see the latest chapter in the season unfold.

Campbell heads Blackpool's winnerCampbell heads Blackpool's winner. Photo; Getty Images

With the spotlight firmly on Kenny Dalglish, taking charge of a league game as Liverpool manager for the first time in 20 years, it was Holloway's men who stole the show.

Armfield, who ranks alongside Sir Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen as iconic figures in Blackpool's history, told me: "It is a remarkable story, although we always have to remember there is still a long way between 28 points and the 40 points that most people accept you need to stay up.

"The fans are just enjoying it and I don't think anyone expected this. And don't forget, they could have had more than 28 points. They conceded very late goals against Fulham, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Bolton that cost them points.

"I had a laugh with my son when the fixtures came out. He asked whether I was seeing where our first win would come. I told him I was looking for where our first corner would come. I was only joking but then they went and won 4-0 at Wigan on the opening day.

"I think they have just carried on from last season. Blackpool were probably happy to stay in the Championship but got to the play-offs. They then beat Nottingham Forest, who were favourites, home and away in the semi-final and then beat Cardiff at Wembley after being behind twice."

Armfield's own illustrious playing career ended when Blackpool played their final game in the former First Division against Manchester United in May 1971. Holloway's players are making that lengthy wait for a return worthwhile.

Blackpool's achievements this season have ensured Holloway's readiness with a quip now takes second place to his ability as a manager. The madcap quotes may never be far from his lips but he has forged a reputation as a boss to be taken seriously.

And Armfield was able to reveal, from first-hand experience, some of the methods that have enabled Holloway and Blackpool to maintain this unlikely story.

"Yes, Ian is a character but he is so much more than that," said Armfield. "I think his past life as a manager is now reflected in his team and the way they play. He has left jobs and lost jobs - and he has clearly decided that the way to play is passing, possession football.

"I spoke to Mark Lawrenson at the game with Liverpool and he was impressed that they just try to play. Blackpool are an attacking side.

"It was probably a good time to play Liverpool. They were missing Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, who are two big items for Liverpool, but when Fernando Torres scored after a couple of minutes you thought 'hello, how will Blackpool react to that?'

"They just kept playing, kept attacking and turned it around and won. There was no doubt Blackpool were the better team on the night.

"Ian has also captured the crowd. There was just over 16,000 in Bloomfield Road for Wednesday's game and yet when I spoke to the Liverpool directors they were telling me it was the best atmosphere they had experienced this season - this from people who watch their football at Anfield.

Ian Holloway shakes hands with Kenny DalglishHolloway has outfoxed Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish

"Ian has also given the players a tremendous belief. He has made players who have never had much, who have come through the divisions with Blackpool, believe they are Premier League players and can play in such illustrious company. That is an incredible achievement."

Armfield also delivered an insight into how Holloway has worked off the field to foster a unity and team bond that he believes has been a central plank of their progress.

He said: "People talk about players like Charlie Adam but I think a key factor is that they have no key players. They are a team and Ian works at it to ensure they stay like that.

"Before Christmas, during the cold spell, he took them out in the afternoon to play cards. Then they came to our church for a carol service, with some of the players reading the lessons. The players also went to the Trinity Hospice in Blackpool to see the children. Doing all these things together has helped to make them a team and stay as a team."

Blackpool's success is also spreading the feelgood factor around the place. "Obviously it is delighting the people in the town," said Armfield. "They are more optimistic about the team and the results have lifted them."

And Armfield, an expert BBC radio summariser for so long, believes it is a story that has not just given hope to Blackpool but clubs lower down English football's ladder.

"It is remarkable and as much as anything it gives so much hope to all those clubs who think they may never get a chance of playing in the Premier League, or even if they do they will only be there briefly," he said.

Armfield remains as measured as ever in his assessment of his beloved Blackpool, even as they sit in the top half of the table just off the European places, saying: "I haven't thought about getting my passport out just yet."

Survival is still the aim - but the whole of Blackpool and one of its favourite sons continue to revel in the dramas taking place by the seaside.

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  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.

    Blackpool are a major part of the reason that the premier league is so gripping this year. Every neutral will hope that they get the points to stay up and, if so, Holloway is a shoo-in for manager of the year.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog - Blackppol have a great manager - problem is will Liverpool nick him and Charlie Adam in teh summer

  • Comment number 4.

    A really interesting article Phil and a refreshing change from your usual blogs that are in addition to the hundreds of others reporting on the same subject. Nice to see some variety.

    I was really looking forward ot seeing Holloway in the premier league for the laughs he would bring but have been incredibly surprised by, not just the football they have played, but the professional manner in which he and the team have conducted themselves. They are an absolute credit to the premier league and hope that other sides take notice of how they go about achieving their success - sustainability - keeping their feet on the ground - playing, training and socialising as a team and responsibly.

    I hope they stay up

  • Comment number 5.

    Proof, if any were needed, that valuing teamwork over being an individual player, positive attitude, self-belief, having fun on the field and in the stands, while being guided by a manager and owner who recognises those qualities, is a powerful weapon. Well done Blackpool!

  • Comment number 6.

    Holloway definitely has them ticking this season, a lot of their success is dependent on them keeping the solid attacking style of football that brought them so much success last season.

    The biggest question is will they be able to sustain their frenetic pace all season, so far it looks like they will, but when other teams start beginning to shut them down, or playing a similar type of football back at them, thats when the problems may begin to start. I'd hazard a guess and say that Holloway may struggle a bit, as although they're a closeknit club, there hasn't been any real dissent from the ranks (with the exception of Charlie Adams bonus case), and that attitude may help them through.

    It will be interesting to see how they recruit in this window, and more importantly, in the summer if they succeed in staying up.

  • Comment number 7.

    Holloway and Blackpool deserve their success. Long may it continue!
    An excellent manager and a team that plays excellent positive attacking football.

    On the other hand Kenny Dalglish has a lot of hard work on his hands in trying to wipe Hodgson's appallling tenure from the minds of his players.
    I think the appointment of Steve Clarke is key in this.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tougher challenges await Blackpool. but they got the result that was expected so you can't say fairer than that

  • Comment number 9.

    Totally agree. Holloway has been a breathe of fresh air this year. He has stuck to his guns and continued to play real football.

    Must disagree that there are no "key players". Gilks, Adams and Varney especially have been very influencial for them.

    Also, I'm not sure if you can dismiss some of the things Holloway says as "madcap". Just because he pours emotion into some of the things he comes out with, doesn't make them any less relevent. For example:-

    * He was and still is completely correct about the Rooney saga. (Saying this as United through and through)

    * He was quite right about the ridiculous notion of fining a manager for picking a team

    * The World Cup should not be held in bloomin January. If FIFA don't like it, don't think of your wallets when picking a host country

    * He did quite possibly the finest impression of Sepp Blatter the world has ever seen.

  • Comment number 10.

    Holloway for Chelsea manager! From a desperate blue.

  • Comment number 11.

    Spurs and Shrewsbury fan here. Blackpool are a breath of fresh air to the Premiership, their attacking, hard working and honest approach is brilliant and I hope they stay up for a long time. I was listening to the commentary last night cheering them on.

    And speaking as a Shrewsbury fan, great to see a club with such little resources making it there and competing so well.

    Hopefully they can bring in one or two players to make sure they stay up, but that those players won't upset the balance.

  • Comment number 12.

    Romanticism lives on. The fairy tale would be complete if they actually edged into a European spot at the death. That would make my year. But I fear, as a lot of others, that they will slowly be dragged down into the dogfight as the season progresses. Full credit to Blackpool. And even better for doing the double over Liverpool. Even sweeter because a friend of mine grew up in Blackpool, but was always a Liverpool fan. Pfff, glory hunters. This is what the magic of being a true fan is all about.
    Now c'mon Saddlers. Let's have you out the Lg 1 relegation battle and challenging for promotion to the Premiership in 2 years time.
    Hey, we can all dream right?

  • Comment number 13.

    Good on Blackpool for doing so well this season, and on Holloway for bringing a breath of fresh air to the Prem.

    However, small teams - such as Burnley before Blackpool - have made good starts to the Premiership season, only for it to drop off in the second half of the season. A lot depends on keeping a small squad like Blackpool's fit. I am sure I speak for all fans, other than those in the relegation dogfight, when I say I truly hope to see Blackpool stay up.

    If they do stay up, I hope they don't then go and break their wage structure (eg Hull with Jimmy Bullard). It is good to see that they refuse to pay any players above the odds, I even saw one signing of theirs taking a pay-cut despite joining from a club a league or two below the Premiership!

  • Comment number 14.

    Holloway is brilliant! Speaks his mind which is exactly what you want from a manager. Have a read of this article on the genius...

    'Ian Holloway-No longer the managerial class clown'

  • Comment number 15.

    Delighted for Blackpool. Their manager is a true character - memories of Brian Clough. I loved that quote from a few seasons ago when he likened a drab 3-0 win to getting off with an ugly girl. Holloway for manager of the year. Maybe Liverpool should take a look at him

  • Comment number 16.

    Coming from Bristol known of him for a long time not only a great manager and an even better familly man.

  • Comment number 17.

    Don't support Blackpool but LOVING Olly in the Premiership...

    "Madcap quotes" eh? Beats the same old, same old from most football managers!

    Always annoyed me when people focused solely on the post-match stuff; 'Ha ha, isn't he funny'...

    Presumably less amusing to King Kenny after last night...

  • Comment number 18.

    a very interesting read mcnulty

    "People talk about players like Charlie Adam but I think a key factor is that they have no key players. They are a team and Ian works at it to ensure they stay like that."

    this is true and teams (england?) could learn a thing or two about blackpool's style.

    you can only marvel at how they've competed with the big boys of the league under such massive budget differences, sums we can only imagine

    voltaire once said of life's rulers they have the power to do good and evil in equal measure

    blackpool's success has been based on hard work, desire (far more than many other teams of their ability including my own west ham), grit, bravery, cool-heads, smart-tactics and people using their brains. full credit to the boss, full credit to the players.

    so i think their modest budget has paradoxiacally been a reason for their success against the big boys, without the vast riches and the megelomania, inflated egos and 'big names' that come with it. jimmy armfield's quote about blackpool playing like a team is absolutely spot on and the bigger teams could learn a thing or two from them

  • Comment number 19.

    Blackpool and Holloway have done fantastic this year, however, a note of caution. A lot of clubs have suffered second season syndrome in the Premier league. If Holloway can keep Blackpool up next year as well, then he really does deserve credit.

  • Comment number 20.

    Over the years lots of teams have come up and done well for the first year, but then struggled the second. Barnsley, Reading and Hull for example all did well and survived their first year in the premiership. Indeed they all did as well as Blackpool in the first half of the season and then started to struggle in the new year.
    Blackpool should be able to get the 12 pts they probably require to stay up, but it should be remembered that they are actually only 7 points from the relegation places, and the teams at the bottom actually are picking up points, so if the team suddenly has a bad run of say 5 games without a win they are in trouble.
    The most important thing for Blackpool's future actually was the win at Wembley, as when they do eventually go down they benefit from the parachute payments for two years, which is worth as much as their gate receipts.

  • Comment number 21.

    Got to love Blackpool, after they got mullered by Chelsea trying to be defensive Holloway said he'd not do that again and he hasn't. The football is superb and I think it just goes to show clubs are far too quick to run abroad to sign uneffective players when in reality there are plenty of lads in the football league who are good enough to make an impact in the top flight. You've got Adam, Campbell, Varney, Taylor-Fletcher doing well for them, Brunt and Dorrans at WBA and Carroll at Newcastle (though I suppose he was in the premiership beforehand).

    I can't see them getting sucked in to any dog fights given then have 18 games left from which to conjour up 4 wins or indeed a couple of wins and a few draws.

    The game against Manchester United coming up will be a belter and a great indicator of how far they've come since those early hammerings by other title challengers. I predict goals at WBA at the weekend as well.

    Finally who doesn't love the Dutch style kit as well!

  • Comment number 22.

    #20 you might be confusing barnsley with bradford. ipswich is the one that sticks out most for 'second season syndrome'. also the way the teams around them are playing i don't think blackpool have much to worry about this season as you suggest. they look like taking points from and if you've seen them it's hard work, brains and heart that's got them where they are and it's not simply a matter of beginner's luck 'sussing them out' like the teams you're comparing them with. i think they'll be fine this year

  • Comment number 23.

    As a West Ham fan I was hoping Blackpool would drop like a stone Burnley-style and do us a favour.

    But aside from that I think it's fantastic that they are continuing to do so well. A few more results and they'll be pretty much home and dry.

    Main reason I love it so much is that Blackpool not crashing and burning sticks two fingers up to the likes of Lawrenson, Alan Green and similar 'experts' who blindly dismissed them at the start of the season.

    The fact they've just done the double over Liverpool makes it a particularly sweet/sour spit in the eye for Green.

  • Comment number 24.

    For me Holloway is emulating Mourinho in his ability to deflect media attention away from the players and the club. Allowing them to just get on with it and do the job.

    I think what they're achieving is fantastic for not just the Premiership but football as a whole. Blackpool are showing that you don't need an open cheque book to play succesful football.

    There are no ego's at Blackpool, other than Holloway's, but as mentioned before it's more to deflect away from his players. The players are a team, it's a hard working team that wants to prove the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal et al that just because they let them go as youngsters they can still achieve and prove the big 4, 5, 6 etc wrong.

    Can you imagine the big teams players going to the local hospice/church unless it was for community service or a photo opportunity?

    Same goes for the FA Cup and Milk Cup (no idea what it's called anymore)the top teams don't care as they see it beneath them, the lower League teams think sod that who the hell do you think you are with a single player's wage more than a full squad.

    Long may Blackpool continue to prove the money grabbers wrong.

  • Comment number 25.

    #3 - stupid comment, idiot

  • Comment number 26.

    Whilst agreeing with what has been said about Ian Holloway and Blackpool i do fear that Ian's approach to cup competitions is simply not on.

    Against Southampton on Saturday he fielded a team that have barely seen any game time at all, a team of miss-fits. The FA Cup in Ian's eyes wasn't important to him so he wouldn’t show it the respect like many clubs do.

    I went to Blackpool's play-off final last term as a neutral and was delighted to see Blackpool win, but sadly it would appear there focus is strictly to make money, not this trip that they are on, they want financial gain and the board couldn't care less if they go down. To me the way they miss-treated the FA Cup was totally unjust and put's another dark cloud over English football.

    I'm not football inept I’m aware teams rest players and the like but leaving out your whole first team in one of the worlds most famous competitions.

  • Comment number 27.

    All those saying Holloway to a bigger club - that is exactly the wrong thing for him to do. Look at Roy Hodgson. Thrived with a small(ish), hard working club, flopped at Liverpool. I don't want Holloway to go down the same route as he is a brilliant manager and character and should continue to succeed at Blackpool. I hope he has the sense to say no if and when Liverpool come knocking.

    Good luck Blackpool. Hope you make Europe, wanna see Blackpool v Juve!

  • Comment number 28.

    23. At 4:04pm on 13 Jan 2011, nlhammer wrote:
    As a West Ham fan I was hoping Blackpool would drop like a stone Burnley-style and do us a favour.

    But aside from that I think it's fantastic that they are continuing to do so well. A few more results and they'll be pretty much home and dry.

    Main reason I love it so much is that Blackpool not crashing and burning sticks two fingers up to the likes of Lawrenson, Alan Green and similar 'experts' who blindly dismissed them at the start of the season.

    The fact they've just done the double over Liverpool makes it a particularly sweet/sour spit in the eye for Green.

    In fairness just about every 'expert', fan, and anyone involved in the game predicted that Blackpool would go down. That's why it is just such an amazing success story! (Although as a Liverpool fan I wish they could have slipped up yesterday!)

    Also using Mark Lawrenson and the word expert together, could get you done under the trade descriptions act!

  • Comment number 29.

    Many years ago, a certain Brian Clough took two relatively unfashionable teams to the very top. As his face didn't fit, the ultimate accolade of the England managership eluded him.
    Enter Ian Holloway who, while affable and entertaining, manages to get results as well, with a team that is not built on money. Yes, managers can also have difficulty with the so-called bigger clubs, as Chelsea, Manchester City an Liverpool have had managerial issues in the not-too distant past, but Holloway's work at Blackpool has been remarkable.
    Yet, when it comes to the England job, we hear only of Big Sam or Harry, or occasionally Stuart Pearce. Big Sam's approach to football may work, but his sides have, in the past, not played the kind of football England need in the current world game. Harry has, in general, always been able to spend in order to fill gaps in his squads.
    For Holloway, it's his philosophy and approach that have led him to where Blackpool currently sit in the table. His team isn't exactly built on international superstars and money. Which means that, given the England job, he'd make the best of the players he has at his disposal, and they'd probably play attractive, carefree football.
    And will he be afforded the opportunity to be England manager?
    In the way that Sir Brian didn't get a sniff, Ian's likely to suffer a similar fate, as he speaks his mind and is his own person. I get the feeling he's not overly worried by egos either.
    Oh, how I would love to be wrong...

  • Comment number 30.

    Refreshing change. Good article. Bravo!

    Ian Holloway is doing a brilliant job up there, at Blackpool and it's a refreshing realisation that there are a number of british, quality managers who can take a team forwards, without spending fortunes.

    Blackpool play attractive, attacking football, without spending fortunes. When I learnt that they bought Matt Phillips for under £350,000 from High Wycombe, I had a good laugh, thinking of the fortunes premiership managers spend for imports to their teams.

    The way they play is an adverttisement to the premiership, a refreshing change and they add quality to the premier league.

  • Comment number 31.

    #29 if he can keep blackpool in the premiership these next two seasons come summer 2012 and continue with blackpool as they are going now then he might just find himself as a serious candidate. if you ask me i'd be happy with that, just as long as it's not 'arry

  • Comment number 32.

    I think we can all agree that Blackpool has surprised everyone this season, and the premier league is better for it.

    Holloway for all his histrionics and ramblings actually has something which other managers don't seem to have - the adoration of his players - he has got a team of ordinary guys to play together as a unit, and if ever there was an example of team ethic winning out over reputation, last night was a classic example. That is not to say Blackpool do not play attractive football, quite amazingly they do!!

    After 2 minutes last night, with the return of King Kenny and conceding an early goal to a pump up Torres, you could have forgiven them for their heads to drop and roll over. But instead they dusted themselves off, grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and outplayed Liverpool for large swathes of that match. The result was not a fluke.

    I have not done the sums, but i daresay for the price that Liverpool paid to secure Fernando Torres, you could probably have bought the whole Blackpool squad and still had change to give the crowd at Bloomfield Road a few pasties and a night on the pier watching Canon and Ball.

    On the evidence of this season, i think i know who has got the better heartiest congratulations to Holloway and Blackpool!!

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    Ian Holloway and Blackpool are a breath of fresh air and also a credit to the PL.
    Being an old git that I am I can remember the unusual and sometimes outrageous approach of Brian Clough in his heyday and how he got the best out of his unfashionable Derby County and then repeated the feat at Nottingham Forest. I think there are signs here that history is repeating itself here and it's so nice to get a character in front of the camera who says it how it is and does not always comply to the PL expectations of a manager.
    Long may you reign at Blackpool Mr Holloway and when your lads visit my beloved Goodison Park I for one will be giving you guys a big round of applause when you walk onto the hallowed turf.
    Holloway for England?....that would be great but somehow, just like with Cloughie all those years ago, I doubt the authorities will be clever enough to see what he could do and how he could restore some pride in the three lions.

  • Comment number 35.

    I really don't think that Holloway will go on and manage a big club - he's already done that at Leicester (a comparatively big club) under Mandaric and look how that turned out.

    No, Holloway will stay at Blackpool as he's pretty much guaranteed a lifetime tenure there if he keeps them up.

    Then I hope that he will return to his beloved Bristol and sort out the mess that is Bristol Rovers.

    One can only dream....!

  • Comment number 36.

    Naturally, when Blackpool play, my mind goes back to Hull City, a few years back, when they had their first season in the Premiership. They had some 23-25 points half the way and Phil Brown believed it would be a piece of cake collecting the rest of the points to secure premiership status. Piece of cake it was not. Hull City survived the first season but by its end they were already dead wood. I remember that key match at Manchester City where they were losing 3-0 at half time and Brown humiliated his team, publicly at half time. It must have been that time that he lost the dressing room and, at the same time, the respect of every football fan in England, including mine. Thus, I always have a look at Ian Holloway's reactions, when Blackpool are no T.V. His reactions are always positive and whenever Blackpool score he celebrates like a kid. Isn't this brilliant?

    I am not aware if Blackpool have any foreign players, but I am pretty sure that Liverpool paraded 9 starters in that match, having on the bench an additional 5 imports. Blackpool with the british unknowns despatched Liverpool promptly, coming from behind and losing opportunities for a bigger score. Has anyone wandered how many unknown players, playing somewhere in the Championship, League 1, 2 and so on, are dreaming of playing one day in a team like Blackpool who will go to the premiership, will keep the majority of the players and have a go at the big boys, with them in the team too, writing history in the premiership? Blackpool are much more than a refreshing change, in my opinion. They are an example that dreams can come true, both for clubs and players.

  • Comment number 37.

    I would like to see Holloway keep Blackpool up and turn them into a Premiership staple, like Bolton or Blackburn are now considered. Would be interesting to see him manage a 'big' club too, could he handle the prima donna egos?

    There are good English managers out there, he and Harry prove it, and it would good to see Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea give an English manager a chance next time there is a vacancy. (As it may be Ancelotti, I doubt it - Abramovich will go for a global name).

  • Comment number 38.

    I totally agree that Ian and his team have done a wonderful job and are a good advert for the Premiership with their adventurous style of football. They've brought fun and comraderie back to this division, reminding all of us that football is a game, meant to bring fun to those who play and those who watch. Seems obvious, I know, but the fun has largely disappeared at some clubs, to be replaced by bickering and discontent.

    My only single worry is how long Ian's turkeys will be spared after FIFA moved Christmas to the summertime. I hope Ian renews his compassion in June/July!

    Good luck Blackpool (and the turkeys), you deserve it.

  • Comment number 39.

    Olly's done a great job of piecing together a team of Rag, Tag and Bobtail, giving them a cause, a style and a team ethic. They've gone out and given it a go and been rewarded for their bravado.

    I hope Blackpool stay in the Prem this season, they deserve a 2nd year. That though will present a whole new set of tests.

  • Comment number 40.

    Like everyone i'm a little surprised to see Blackpool riding quite so high but i'm not surprised to see them holding their own as i've always rated Holloway.

    I remember thiking his sacking at QPR was unjust after the good job he was doing. He then went on to do a great job for Plymouth before moving to Leicester where things didn't quite work out for him in his short spell.

    He's obviously learnt from all those experiences, good and bad, as he's now doing a seriously good job with Blackpool.

    Next England manager? I'd love to see that. Even if it didn't work out it would great fun.

  • Comment number 41.

    I would love it if blackpool get in the champions league it would be amazing. Ian holloway should get manger of the year and blackpool play better football than manchester united.

  • Comment number 42.


    Just remind me, how many players did Southampton leave out against Blackpool? 8 wasn't it? No doubt you will say promotion is the main target this season for you so the FA Cup isn't that important, well guess what, staying up is Blackpool's target and resting those players was necessary as we do not have the resources to have 30+ men in the squad. Considering those rested players just beat Liverpool to go 9th in the table, I think Mr Holloway and all fans of Blackpool will settle for that!

  • Comment number 43.

    Almost every football fan i know has unbelievable respect for Ian Holloway and his achievements with Blackpool.

    I hope they manage to stay up and strengthen for next year - as long as it doesn't come at the expense of Villa that is!

  • Comment number 44.

    "Must disagree that there are no "key players". Gilks, Adams and Varney especially have been very influencial for them."

    I think that sums up a little of what's made this Holloway's year. Luke Varney had done nothing at Derby, but Holloway saw something in him and got him in on loan. He's promptly scored, what 5 in 15 games? A more than creditable return at this level (and three more than Wayne Rooney).

  • Comment number 45.

    Yea I agree he has done a good job - but does he ever stop whining?
    "decisons never go our way" - "bid for my player is derisory" - "Saints fan were disrespectful" - the same fans by the way that gave his player Brett Ormerod a standing ovation!!
    He was amusing when he started but his constant moaning is boring now!

  • Comment number 46.

    Nice blog.

    We are living a dream. It's as simple as that!

    Up the Pool


  • Comment number 47.

    @ 45,

    if you talk like that for Holloway moaning, I'm curious what you'd say about Wenger, SAF, Rafa Benitex, etc.

  • Comment number 48.


  • Comment number 49.

    Blackpool are the antidote that is the poison that grips the bulk of the Premiership. The biggest problems for Holloway are twofold.

    1. Managing fan expectation. You only have to look at last nights opponents to see how "its our right" to be amongst the elite can foster unwelcome pressures,indeed Holloway has already fired a warning shot across the dissenters at Bloomfield Road, he is right too.

    2. Keeping the poison out of Bloomfield Rd, for example, egos, agent interference. Team spirit gets you far, again looking at the 2 teams last night, who has the better team spirit ? No arguments

    28pts and 9th sound good, its great at this time of the season, and with mostly home games to come but last nights win was vital. 2 defeats on the trot in the league and another failure lst night and the pressure builds. Look at WBA, another team who deserve praise but who at the moment cant find a win to save their lives. Football is fickle but I think the vast majority of non Blackpool supporters hope the footballing Gods will reward them for what they have done so far.

  • Comment number 50.

    When Jose left Chelsea, I thought we were doomed to eternally dire pre and post-match press conferences...enter Ian Holloway for the funniest, most entertaining sound bites ever! I always support the newly promoted teams, but more so Blackpool because of Holloway.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hollers is a complete and utter dork.....and I love him to bits.

    No matter where they finish,if Blackpool stay up he should be contender for Prem Manager of The Season. The guy is utter utter fab.

  • Comment number 52.

    8. At 3:06pm on 13 Jan 2011, Kapnag wrote:
    Tougher challenges await Blackpool. but they got the result that was expected so you can't say fairer than that


    Man U fan perhaps?

  • Comment number 53.

    Liverpool fan here - well done Blackpool for last nights performance. You have got a great thing going up there - long may it continue - it brings a smile to my face when my lot are clueless.

  • Comment number 54.

    Don't often agree with you Phil, but in a recent blog you talked about 'He who dares, wins.' This is why I believe Ferguson has been so successful, and is why Ollie is reaping the rewards now. Looks like after mediocre success in his earlier management posts, at some point he decided "What the heck?" and grasped the mettle, and the philosophical cowardice at Chelsea has only reaffirmed his conviction.

    At the end of the 80s I think, I remember Alan Green doing radio commentary on a Crewe Liverpool League Cup game, and criticising Dario Gradi's team for trying to outfootball the football masters. The only way they were going to win was by hoofing it. As it turned out, I think Liverpool won, but Crewe gave them a good game, played some nice football, and scored a/some goal/s. I personnally don't think so, but AG may have been right, hoofing it, a completely alien way to that team, was the only way Crewe could have won, but one thing's sure, it would only have been a short-lived success. Playing with a hoofing and/or defensive mindset will ultimately only lead to a destination that reflects that. It's like in horse-racing they talk about betting on the odds-on favourites all the time as being the shortest way to the poorhouse. Play in a positive way, and you get used to playing that way, to scoring goals, to being what some managers would regard as being short at the back, more used to it than the opposition. It's called 'playing without fear.' After Blackpool's game at Eastlands, David Platt talked about the problems that the Tangerines' expansive game had caused City. Don't you think there's a little bit of Barcelona in Blackpool's game? I wonder if Ollie's been studying their videos!

    Of course, the true test is the test of time, and this may only be a blip, but I'm hoping it signals a move away from the nick a goal spoiling 2-1 football that I've seen a lot of in the lower leagues in the last 20 years and re-emergence of the strength in depth of our leagues, that I think is special.

    I hope Ollie stays at Blackpool for I fear his fearless principles might be compromised if he receives a big offer, and he'll end up back at Bristol Rovers, if they're lucky. Probably not, but if you would be interested Ollie, on the way back down the M5, if you stopped off at Whaddon Road, we'd be more than happy to have you.

  • Comment number 55.

    Blackpool are obviously benefitting from a Winter break;) Still, its all good and surely an advert for the British talent that exists in the Championship, not just players but managerial as well. Maybe some of the foreign owners who come here assuming that the best managers (and who inevitably shop for players from their home country) are from abroad may pause for a moment to reflect on that.

    So well done Ian, and I hope you continue overcoming the odds to finish in the top half come the end of the season. I also hope the players show their loyalty by staying with the club until the end of the season.

  • Comment number 56.

    Blackpool are excellent so far in the premier league
    No one expected Blackpool to beat Liverpool home and away this season
    Most of us were expecting it to be the other way round

    Blackpool will definitely stay in the premier league for next season.
    With the way they are playing in the premier league, they will be staying in this league for a few seasons.

    Managers like Holloway and clubs like Blackpool makes this season so exciting

  • Comment number 57.

    As a lowly Bees supporter I watch the premiership with a mixture of envy (at the riches, both in talent and finance) and despair (at the cynicism and selfishness). I see Newcastle, Blackburn and Liverpool acting like spoilt children, throwing their toys and managers out of the pram and the disrespect some players show to their manager, fans or both.

    But then I see Blackpool and Spurs - I don't support them but I like them and the way they play good football, have articulate, interesting managers who know the game and - most importantly - know and value the fans. These two teams embody what I like about the English game.

  • Comment number 58.

    Ian Halloway should have won Sports Personality of the Year.

    Hands down.

  • Comment number 59.

    have to say living near leicester and being a sky blues fan i always thought holloway was a bit of a joke and loved his spell in charge of leicester.
    He seems to have changed the way his teams play and hopefully they will stay up. The great thing is they are not afraid of getting beat as long as they play their game. All games have been entertaining and good football and really enjoyed watching them. fair play to the players as well as they have not been afraid to have a go as well.DJ Campbell is looking a very good player. I always thought these temas whose aim was to finish 4th from bottom were doomed to failure. Blackpool seem to go out to win every game. A lot of other teams should take note

  • Comment number 60.

    Ian will deserve manager of the year, when you look at the expectations from August. Many were predicting 10 pts for the season, but they could end up getting 50.

  • Comment number 61.

    Hey, we can all dream right?
    That's all you CAN do !!

  • Comment number 62.

    Great blog on an alternative subject.

    It is brilliant to see Blackpool doing so well in a league dominated by money and Holloway's rant about Wayne Rooney is still the funniest thing I have seen all year. As a United fan I am geniuenly worried by their visit next week and will be hoping that United can pull out a performance worthy of beating a team of Blackpool's calibre.

  • Comment number 63.

    I did like Holloway until recently.

    First, a few days ago, he criticised my club (Southampton) for singing "Premier League, you're having a laugh" when we were beating them in the FA Cup. He said that we're bitter and jealous because we used to Premiership.

    Actually it has nothing to do with that. It's just friendly banter that fans of ALL non-premiership teams sing when they're beating Premiership teams. Just banter.

    Secondly, he has criticised Aston Villa over their low bid for for Adam. But yet at the exact same time, he has put in low bids for both Puncheon (Southampton) and Wright-Phillips (Plymouth).

    Sorry Holloway, but you can go and ****************

  • Comment number 64.

    i love the BBC

  • Comment number 65.

    I hate to sound negative but I hope Blackpool don't do an Ipswich.

  • Comment number 66.

    Anfield giants? Phil McNulty must be older than he looks. London media please get the message. Liverpool have the same problems as most football clubs. Get over it!

  • Comment number 67.

    Blackpool are a singing endorsement for the abilities that reside in the championship. Mr. Holloway, despite his dialogue with the press which is highly entertaining, is no fool. I have watched with great pleasure the progress over this season and have found them the highlight of a pretty unispiring campain by all the major players including MUFC whom I support. I am sure that LFC will not be the only scalp that we will discuss in future and the belief that Holloway has instilled in that side will see them survive, and probably more in this topsy-turvy season.

    What is more concerning, and perhaps a bigger debate, is the money spent by teams that are being shown up as inferior by what would be a self confessed championship side with no 'star' attraction and an extremely inexpensive squad. are they winning their games based upon work ethic? I think so, something that is sadly lacking in the premiership.

    No doubt, Blackpool are a breath of fresh air in a league that is driven by reputation, and is faltering this year based upon the cash value of investment. WELL DONE Blackpool, and Mr. Holloway!

  • Comment number 68.

    Blackpool are the only reason I still watch the Premiership. There's a genuine story there about how a club on a modest budget, with modest talent but with self-belief, dedication and a lot of prayer is managing to keep its head above water in a league where the championship title is now essentially the preserve of 4-6 wealthy clubs while the rest are simply fighting for survival. In a league where teams like Manchester City are spending money out the wazoo, it's quite amazing that a club who are little more than a park team can coexist. Blackpool are a throwback team. They're a throwback to a time when the then First Division contained small clubs like Carlisle United, Swansea City and Luton Town who punched well above their weight and hung around the top of the least for a while.

    I thought those days had gone forever but they're back...........for now.

    Money has destroyed football and turned it into a sick joke. The inexhaustible money spigot at Manchester City is ridiculous. Unless football introduces some sort of a salary cap it can kiss its rear end goodbye.

  • Comment number 69.

    Bristol Rovers board should have stuck with Ollie we might be where Blackpool are today.
    Hopefully he will manage England one day

  • Comment number 70.

    Hull were in a similar position before scraping survival in their first season

  • Comment number 71.

    He's done well but anyone suggesting he will go to Liverpool is bonkers.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think Blackpool have nearly stayed up already. I know people might mention Hull from a couple of seasons ago when they nearly went down after looking comfortable in mid season, but Blackpool look better than them and have a better manager.

    The 40 point mark is a bit outdated, the last few years 35 has been enough and I expect Blackpool to reach 35 easily. Fair play to them.

  • Comment number 73.

    As a blackpool fan and long time season ticket holder with my family i have to say i still cant believe what we have achieved so far!!

    My worry at the start of the season was if we could score enuff goals to be a probs there and its a pleasure to be tangerine at the mo.

    My only gripe is dopes like the southampton fan who actually thinks we disgraced the FA sure Southampton would do the same thing if they were in the prem!! and lets nor forget they dropped 8 players to!

    Long may our success continue!!

  • Comment number 74.

    #73 Not all Saints fans are on #26's side.

    I had no problem Holloway dropping so many players. I wanted Adkins to do this for us in rounds 1 and 2. Promotion is a million times more important than the cup for us, just as survival is for guys.

    Holloway was perfectly entitled to do that, and I really didn't have a problem.

    On the point about us making 8 changes ourselves though, most of what we brought in were players that had played a big part in our season so far (we'd made 5 changes for the previous league game, so some of those 8 changes were just restoring those that had been rested previously). It was really only the "back triangle" (keeper and two cb's) that weren't first choice players.

    My gripe with Holloway I made a few posts earlier (#63)

  • Comment number 75.

    If this was the old 1st Division before Sky got involved and all the silly money in the Premiership now, then a team like Blackpool would be in the top 3 at the end of the season and maybe even win it.

    It's about unity, team work and playing with a smile on your face. Such a shame only the very rich teams will ever win the Premiership now, and it will never change.

    Next season will be the real test for Holloway, if he keeps them up this season. I really hope he stays with Blackpool for a while longer.

    Congratulations on last night, great performance.


  • Comment number 76.

    1. Ian Hollaway is INDEED an incredibly positive addition to the "face of football". It must be more than slightly annoying to the followers of the lower echelons of football that people like me are only taking notice of a character that has obviously been around for a long time now that he and his team have made it to the top of the heap. Isn't it time that the likes of the BBC, etc. committed more time, resource, money to such positive, and currently unsung, elements of sport? Let's hear it from the punters; is there an audience for stories like this from the lower leagues or not? 2. Jimmy Armfield, from the other perspective (fan) provides an equally humbling insight as he constantly refers to the Blackpool team as "they" even though he, more than most, has a right to refer to them as "we". I believe, even if it does not necessarily suit the aspirations of the club owners, that the entire game would benefit enormously by the proliferation of opportunities for all supporters to play the game at all levels and to continue playing at any level rather than becoming a mere supporter.

  • Comment number 77.

    Sounds like Southampton fans are jealous of Blackpool and seem a bit bitter that they have spent millions and are in Division Three, and no I'm not a Pompey fan.

    Every single player at Blackpool has had a point to prove to someone....Evatt to Derby, Adam to Rangers, Crainey to Leeds, Harewood to Villa, Gilks to Norwich....the list goes on.

    Every fan must look at Blackpool and think "What are they doing right, compared to us?". This includes Man City and Man United who see their £20m players struggle yet Blackpool's jumble sale team flourish

  • Comment number 78.

    As a Birmingham fan it is with gratitude that we haven't ended up as one of Blackpools growing number of scalps this season!
    They are playing football the right way end to end.

    The measure of Ian Holloway to my opinion was absolutely fantastic in an interview over christmas asked about player injuries etc
    Went something along the lines of;

    'We have him out for a while and anothers being checked by our medical staff later but we're on this incredible journey and we're blessed to be experiencing what we are at the moment'
    'I am very lucky, we're all very lucky here at this moment in time playing football. We've got no problems not real problems like the family from my town in Bristol who recently lost their daughter. How terrible is that for them to face and my heart goes out to them. That's how awful real life is - so we haven't got ANY problems....'

    Although it's not word for word this just shows what kind of compassion he has.

    Sorry to all you 'he has to be' and 'he's a shoe in for' fans - He IS the manager of the season already. Forget the rest of the season or where they finish it's done and dusted.

    Hats firmly off to Blackpool Football Club and Ian Holloway.

  • Comment number 79.

    Don't get the half-hate towards the bigger clubs, the big 3-4-5 bla bla. Players there once started off in teams like Blackpool you know, it's just financial progression.

    Also, it's about confidence. There's no pressure on Blackpool, next season, the pressure will begin. We've seen this with Hull, Reading, and West Bromich (x5!!) before anyway. The 2nd establishing season is always the main test.

    But y hope Blackpool go far, more of these good sides in Europe the better!

  • Comment number 80.

    Blackpool have been excellent to watch this season and look good enough to stay up and even have a chance at Europe the way nthe league has been this season but it will be interesting to see what happens when a few players' heads are turned by bigger clubs/wages and teams start to play them at their own game.
    Reading had a fairytale first season in the premiership, missing out on the UEFA on the final day after a 3-3 draw with Blackburn when a win meant qualification, but the following year other teams realised we struggled when put under serious pressure. A 6-4 away defeat to Pompey and 7-4 at Spurs proved that although we would have a go at any team, many had enough quality to outscore us in an open game. The loss of Steve Sidwell also proved how much we relied on the unity and understanding of our starting 11. New partnerships take time to forge and a team with few outstanding individuals will always struggle when a link is removed from the chain.
    I'm loving watching Blackpool this season and hope they can overcome the hurdles which eventually led to the Royals relegation (succumbing to second season syndrome) but I wonder how they will cope if a couple of the current first 11 leave. Hoping they can prove me wrong...
    Holloway for PM!

  • Comment number 81.

    Don't get the half-hate towards the bigger clubs, the big 3-4-5 bla bla. Players there once started off in teams like Blackpool you know, it's just financial progression.

    Also, it's about confidence. There's no pressure on Blackpool, next season, the pressure will begin. We've seen this with Hull, Reading, and West Bromich (x5!!) before anyway. The 2nd establishing season is always the main test. And this blog is all singing when winning, but don't forget about the last home loss against Birmingham?

    But y hope Blackpool go far, more of these good sides in Europe the better!

  • Comment number 82.

    Blackpool are a good team who continue to impress. I think one of the reasons is because of Ian Holloway. Th league continues to grip you with teams like Man u, Man c, Blackpool, and Liverpool.
    Liverpool played just as well as Blackpool on Wednesday.Although LIV lost, they showed they wanted to win more.

  • Comment number 83.

    best of luck to blackpool. holloways a legend and that stuff about him making them go to a carol service and read to children in a hospice deserves a knighthood in todays game

  • Comment number 84.

    Good old ollie! It seems that only gross mismanagement will displace the elite-as per Liverpool with Hicks et al.
    I don't know why Man U fans moan at the Glazers. Think, if you had me as your owner! Why I'd sack Fergusson straight off! So rude to Arsen Wenger! I wont have it he's out! Then I'd rename the stadium to the Fizal and Akbar Kebeb van stadium, but to salve ill feeling,I'd let the whole fiver rights money go on transfers.I'd give fee transfers to all the squad and draft in the reserves from Rochdale as replacements (all I could afford with the stadium naming rights cash.)Then I'd bring in Michael Knighton as boss and Dame Kelly Holmes as trainer for innovation!
    The conference awaits!!! NOW aren't you glad I'm penniless and cant afford to buy you?!....mind you the Glaziers didn't have any money and borrowed it......

  • Comment number 85.

    Ollie's performed magic at blackpool. Not just once or twice, but constantly. I'd love more English managers like him to step up and take the big boys on. Him and his team have been a refreshing change.

    Please bear in mind I'm a forest fan saying that. It does'nt hurt me to see blackpool doing so well knowing it could have been us if not for our playoff jinx and a very good blackpool side. No, rather, I want to see them do well, they are striking a morale boosting blow for fans of unfashionable sides who want to see the bigtime. Ollie and his lot are making it known to all that its possible. They are doing it exactly how it should be done, its lovely to see.

    The only problem with being an underdog come good, is that once people start to look at you in that light and they start to write the blogs and the plaudits start coming, and the backs get slapped, etc, thats when the bubble usually bursts. I dont want to see that happen with Blackpool. I wish them the best of luck and hope for continued success for them, I really do.

  • Comment number 86.

    The biggest key to their success isn't Holloway or Adam, but it's the fact that they haven't been able to afford to bring players in.

    Year after year recently we have seen the smaller clubs who can not afford recruits start well because they are used to playing with each other. Unfortunately we have then seen them slip away again in the latter half as other squads gel (Burnley) or in season two when they bring in a few more (Hull).

  • Comment number 87.

    And before anyone has a go, no that isnt a criticism of Holloway or Adam.

  • Comment number 88.

    Must admit all of this is a bit galling for me.
    I have nothing against Blackpool & under normal circumstances would be very happy at the upsetting of the Premier League's purposely designed closed-shop.
    But as a Leicester fan I'm not able to forget the execrable job Holloway did in charge here,taking us down to the third tier of league football for the first time in our history.
    Fair enough we were a club in chaos at that time thanks in no small part to the thankfully departed lunatic Mandaric & had 4 managers that season thanks to his rank incompetence.
    BUT...Holloway was the one in charge when we went down & had time enough to have turned it around.We didnt expect miracles,just staying up would have been enough.
    However his management was inept,sometimes inexplicable & he gave every impression of being totally out of his depth.The post match jocularity only served to infuriate the fans further.
    His decisions on team selection,tactics,substitutions were all greeted with "what the hell??" most of the time.
    We waited to be astounded by some aspect that we hadn't seen but he had...but no.Capitulation followed capitulation & we went down without so much as a whimper.It was truly awful to watch.
    In the end ONE goal at the Brittania against Stoke on the final day of the season would have kept us up.ONE lousy goal to preserve over 120 years of history...but he couldnt deliver it.The fact that we hit the bar late on pretty much summed it up.
    He was of course sacked.
    He's admitted himself that in his year out of the game after leaving us he reconsidered his approach to management thanks to the experience he had here.Well thanks Ian...glad to have been of service mate!
    So,good luck to Blackpool but i'm afraid all the plaudits thrown at Holloway are going to be bitterly observed here in the Midlands.
    Humiliation was your only contribution to MY club.
    Why couldn't you have got it right a little earlier?

  • Comment number 89.

    Ian Holloway for Prime Minister! Or at least Head of the FA / FIFA one day.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think Blackpool have a very good chance of staying up. There are more than three worse teams than them in the Premiership this season so I see no reason why they should go down. They play attractive football and are good to watch.

    I think that they need to hang on to Charlie Adam at least until the summer as he has been their best player so far this season. Some shrewd purchases this month and over the summer and they could stay up for a few seasons. I hope that they do nto have the same problems as Reading and Hull who did OK for a year but could not keep it up in the second season.

  • Comment number 91.

    I remember seeing at the start of the season predictions for Blackpool to beat Derby's record low points tally and other predictions that they wouldn't win a single game, I also believe they were favourites to be relegated from the Championship at the start of last season.

    if you told anyone 18 months ago that they'd start 2011 in the Premiership closer on points to Chelsea than the championship, above Liverpool, Everton, Villa and more away wins so far than Manchester United then the men in the white coats would have appeared soon after.

    Having seen the comments of a couple of disgruntled Leicester fans, I've actually heard Olly say that it was because of his spell there that he took time away from management and watched many different styles of play around the world and decided that his attacking style was the way to go rather than having the attitude that because your playing a bigger/better team you should be defensive or cautious

    Good Luck Blackpool in all but 2 of your remaining games this season

  • Comment number 92.

    Hello All

    First of I agree good Blog PHIL!! makes a nice change

    And on this occasion I wish to join the majority in congratulating
    Ian Holloway. Without doubt he has been a breath of fresh air to the
    PL and his side Blackpool do Football a lot of CREDIT.

    I would like to see them remain in the top flight thats for sure, with
    limited resources they have shown what really can be achieved without
    the need to Hoof and Punt or Kick and Chase. They are reaping the rewards of hard work and style as well.

    So best of luck to them for the rest of the campaign.

    Good Manager and Good Side.

  • Comment number 93.

    Why is it such a surprise that a team that plays good football is thriving in the greed is good league.
    If people care to watch the football league show they will find a lot of good football being played, even in league 1 the standard is high, and a couple of years ago that's where Blackpool were, playing good stuff under Grayson.
    All 3 teams promoted this time are looking as if they could stay up this year.
    The greed is good league is in the main stagnant, most teams are reliant on bringing in expensive mercenaries just to survive, not giving good FL players a go as these teams are too frightened to go down, so they abandon football and young english talent for survival.

    Well done to Blackpool for providing the model to survive, let's hope many replicate.

  • Comment number 94.

    I was looking forward to seeing Holloway in the premiership but must admit i thought they would be rooted all season, how wrong I was.

    It goes to show playing good football is suitable for some teams even if the players are deemed as inferior (i hope Sam "the entertainer" Allardyce reads this).

    What makes the double over Liverpool more satisfying is that its Liverpool and their fans have just got rid of a perfectly good, experienced proven manager to bring in a throw back.

  • Comment number 95.

    what i like most about the dude is the bond between the lads, he has given them so much believe, this is why they continue to be the league surprise package. But i do urge them never to feel complacent cos it's not yet over. Remember Hull were this brilliant but narrowly excaped going down. For sure with the spirit in the camp, they will stay up and Holloway and his boys will by then create a history, as the giant-killers of the league.

  • Comment number 96.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 97.

    Despite the fact he's from the West Country he's the best thing since Clough and Mourinho. I've admired him for years, I laughed when he was interviewed on 5 Live when he took over at Leicester and had a little banter with the chairman, priceless. I'm fed up with the bores who manage in, play in and run the PL.
    I think next season will be the tester but for all our sakes let's hope he stays at the top for many years.

  • Comment number 98.

    And................. he's a bladdy nice bloak, not a tax dodge, bung, big purple spotty nose or ego in sight
    So don't let us down Ian

  • Comment number 99.

    Great to here from the living legend that is Jimmy Armfield and his thoughts on IH, the club and what the teams success has meant to the town. Long may it continue and as all Blackpool supporters will tell you 'This is the best trip i've ever been on' COTP.

  • Comment number 100.

    65. At 9:01pm on 13 Jan 2011, charlesj wrote:
    I hate to sound negative but I hope Blackpool don't do an Ipswich.

    I hope they do a half-Ipswich. First season up, hello Europe!

    Just don't copy Town's 2nd season XD


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