TRANSCRIPT: Ian Holloway and Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish speak out after parting company
00:00 24 October 2013
Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway parted company today after an emotional press conference at The Soho hotel in central London.
Below is a transcript of the press conference. Some words have been altered slightly for grammatical reasons.
Crystal Palace co-chariman Steve Parish (SP): Thanks for everyone’s time. The purpose of today is to put an end to all the speculation we’ve had since the Fulham game and announce that Ian’s contract with Crystal Palace has come to an end by mutual consent.
Obviously at this point, I’d like to thank Ian for the tremendous contribution he’s made to the club. He stepped in when our last manager [Dougie Freedman] resigned to go to another club.
He’s somebody who cares about people. He care’s about me, he cares about our football club. Unfortunately, things have happened that mean that we both feel a fresh voice on the playing side of the club will produce better outcomes.
Ian instigated the original conversation. Certainly, from our side, we had no intention and never had any intention of anything other than maintaining the continuity at the club.
But Ian felt that things at the club weren’t working for him. He felt he wasn’t getting the support to play in the way he wanted to play and that a different approach might keep us in the division.
Before I finish, I think what I’d like to say that having arrived at this joint decision very reluctantly and looked at every possible alternative solution. We’ve spent two days chatting about other ways that we might be able to make it work.
I’d like to say that I’ve enjoyed every minute working with Ian. He’s been fantastic for the club. He’s brought us one of the best days in our history. He leaves our club with his head held very high. I think he’s a remarkable man – somebody that has come forward and done something that most people wouldn’t do and just said: ‘Look, we need to talk about the situation. I don’t think it’s working at the moment. I don’t like what I’m seeing. I think you might be better off with somebody that can play a style of football that the players can respond to.’ I think it’s an incredibly brave person who comes to that. Most people would take the money.
I’d like to put the record straight. We’ve never fallen out. We speak every day. In fact on transfer deadline day, he rang me 123 times. We’ve worked together brilliantly.
We’ve achieved something that has rarely been achieved for the club. Ian and me together feel we need to move on to progress. That’s a decision we’ve very reluctantly come to. Questions?
Question: Ian, what are your feelings?
Ian Holloway (IH): The first is the pride of the job that we’ve both done. It wasn’t easy. Steve – if his last manager wasn’t headhunted I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity should I have left Blackpool anyway – who knows?
The chance to work with Crystal Palace was so exciting for me and still is. You’ve got to look at what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it and really we’ve almost had too much success for me to carry on in that way.
We need to be able to shut up shop in this division, defend a bit better. When I talk about attacking, with the group that I’ve got it unsettles them because they were so good at doing other things. At the minute, we’ve got a whole new group there.
I particularly didn’t like the second half the other day [against Fulham]. I like to inspire people and help people. I believe the club’s in a fantastic position. I’m proud of my work with Steve.
I’m very tired as well to be honest with you. I think it’s part of my talking with Steve the other evening was ‘Am I the one with the energy left? Am I the one who can believe that we can stand and beat Arsenal and get a draw here?’
I think that it’s really important you keep your dignity. With the changes in the squad, I have to hold my hand up that we didn’t keep that spirit that got us up. We lost some very important parts of it.
I think we’ve tried to change too quickly and some of the new lads – their attitude and where it is. I’m finding it slightly annoying and that isn’t right. I think someone fresh right now with a tad more experience at this level if Steve can find someone like that then they’ve got 30 games left and I understand how wonderful it is for Palace to enjoy those games and not have all of this circus following us around.
I’m bitterly disappointed with one or two things that have been said out there i.e. my wife on the bus and if I feel like that then why won’t every other manager do it as it serves me well. For someone to pick up a paper and write about that is absolute nonsense. I almost lost my wife through cancer and I’m never going to lose her again. When I sit with this man [Parish] and we talk about the team and he understands my professionalism, I don’t believe that gutter snipe journalism should really affect me anymore.
But if it is, I have to be honest with this man because the way I care is a tad unusual and I believe I could sell a fridge to an Eskimo if I believed that myself. I think that’s what helped us get there. I think these four gentlemen are totally unique. They’re supporters of the club, they’ve put their money in and saved it.
If I thought for one minute I wasn’t helping and seven defeats out of eight I don’t believe is good enough even with the group that we’ve got. Such is life so I’d rather call a meeting in front of you to show some solidarity because most of it has been absolute nonsense. Absolutely scary nonsense in fact and I think there’s only one way to do it really.
We’ve had a grown-up discussion about what we feel and we both still care immensely about Palace. Are there any more questions? I’d like you to ask anything that you’ve got on your mind in front of us two so it’ll be led to bed so Palace can get on with what Palace need to get on with which is climb a mountain.
Question: Was it in your mind before Monday night that you might be just feeling the time had come?
IH: No. I think Monday night – the way the second half went and what I said at half-time. Normally that has a spur onto people and it didn’t. I told Steve straight away, particularly when I had questions upstairs and how it is. That’s all you can do.
I care bitterly about Palace, bitterly until the day I die. It’s an unbelievable place and I’m very proud of my involvement and I wouldn’t want to overstay my welcome.
When I first came, we were in the Championship, we managed to get up and the time it’s going to take me working with people and get them to get it out of the back and pass it. We’re going to make mistakes at this level.
The club and me are on a slightly different agenda – what I want to build and what they want to build are in a different time zone. All I can do is be honest with Steve and say the last thing I want to do now is change who I am because the lads know I won’t believe in that. You have to see things through and this man has done it all his life. He’s a very successful man and I want him to continue doing that and I want to be very proud of my part in that and I think I can particularly the way I’m conducting myself now because to me that’s what it’s about.
You have to be proud of what you can bring to the table and maybe they need a tad more experience. Now they’ve got this money, if he can encourage someone and I would strongly suggest if someone does want a chance at the Premier League with a good group then they’d seriously believe in this.
The [Pajtim Kasami] goal the other day that started the rot was pretty sensational to say the least. It’s got to be time to change and I think a new voice, if the boys see that, might help them as well because they’ve done me proud as well.
Question: Have you recommended anyone, Alex Ferguson style?
SP (joking): Sir Alex was mentioned, he’s out of work.
IH (joking): He’s busy promoting his book isn’t he?
IH (serious): I don’t think that’s right for me to say. I have spoken to Steve about certain things. They’ve made some very good decisions in their time.
SP: Ian’s certainly somebody that I’ll talk to about that and he’s certainly someone that I’ll consult over the years. I think I’ve got a friend that we’ll know each other for a very long time.
That’s certainly something that I would consider very much because I know he cares about the club. What I will say as well, to add to things that Ian said that the club haven’t got the infrastructure to help an Ian.
We came up very much as a Championship club and the amount of work that went in in the summer was extraordinary to try and get us into the Premier League. We were on the phone at two, three in the morning.
Ian was watching player after player. You’ve got all these new scouting tools. They’re part your salvation and part the devil’s machines as you can endlessly watch players from all over the world.
With the money you’ve got available in the Premier League, you’ve got the potential to get those players and you don’t want to be that person that didn’t listen to a recommendation.
Because we’ve got such a tiny infrastructure and I didn’t put anything in place. I should have seen that. When we were top of the league and thought we might go up, I should have put more of a scouting infrastructure in place. We’ve got a whole group of people who were used to the Championship and dropped them into the Premier League and then really said to Ian: ‘Well you’ve been here once, can you sort this out.’
As hard as we worked, we probably need some help from somebody knows the division. Even in the three years since Ian’s been there it’s evolved and moved on. All the sides are competent.
The positive thing for our football is it’s moving forward. People play a high pressing game and everybody knows how to do it. The XI they put out every Saturday in the Premier League are all competent. They know their jobs and they don’t make mistakes and they score extraordinary goals when we’re on top. You won’t see those two goals in the Championship. Maybe we haven’t got that in our side.
Ian’s got a certain philosophy he’s developed on football. That’s why I wanted him as Blackpool beat all the odds and played fantastic football in the Premier League. Maybe we’ve both tried to move it on too quickly.
Ian’s not going to leave his principles behind and during that time he feels that he’s lost his momentum and we’d be better off with somebody else. It’s as honest, as noble and as decent as that.
Question: Mutual consent is described for a manager who has been sacked. Are you happy to walk away from a Premier League club?
IH: Yeah. I hold myself and Steve with both responsible. I didn’t value enough the spirit of the group. The group helped us get there and I tried to change to give him this chance to stay in this division. I’ve lost that spirit and I should have told him that. I did tell him how strong it was. It has got worse in that vein rather than better and I owe it to the lads to admit that as well. It was a fantastic group last year. We went through hell and back in the end. Nobody asked for a change of management. Five members of staff were taken and we managed to win that play-off when we lost our top goalscorer as well. It’s all about a balance and if I accepted these things and then kept taking his money and not admitting things I don’t feel that’s right.
I want to do a job that I believe is right for the football club and the job it deserves and for the people I’m responsible for. I’m not saying my new signings aren’t good enough, not at all. They need to buy into this football club like the last lot of lads I’ve had because that’s what Palace is all about. I want to give someone else a chance to do that.
Question: Are you bitter towards some of the new signings?
IH: Nope, I’m not bitter. I will never be bitter. I’m privileged and this is what I wanted to show you today. It’s a privilege to work for Palace and I want the players who are going to play for them to understand that. I believe now with me out of the way all of this will stop. The new man will get a chance to have a chance and start again and a draw is a vital point then maybe a win after that and off you go.
By the time January comes some of the good or better players might still want to come here because it’s about the two windows. What I’m wary off is it’s ticking. We’re running out of games.
With the pressure that you lot [media] were starting to put on me. There was something else today about me not turning up. It’s disgusting. I could never work any harder than I have done and this man knows that. What I’m saying to you is it is mutual. I’m tired, I’m going to have a rest. I’m going to watch Palace. I’m a Palace fan – they’re a sensational football club.
Question: You’ve said that you’re tired. What do you think has caused that?
IH: I’ll tell you what’s caused it. I had five days off this summer. Five days where I didn’t ring him throughout the day. On an evening we still spoke. We tried to get a scouting network in.
We’ve tried to watch as many people as we can to strengthen a squad. You’ve got to reverse back. I started at Blackpool, we won the play-offs, got into the Premier League, it all went quite well and then we got relegated. That means we had to start a new season again, got in the play-offs again. I had no rest again. Then the season started, we lost those play-offs. I had to pick myself up from that then after a few games I end up here. Got in the play-offs and won them. Then I’m trying to scramble around and do all of this with no scouting network. I’m absolutely exhausted to be honest.
It’s not just that. It’s the other things, Phil Alexander will tell you. I do dos, I go out, represent the club. I do it as much as I can to build the energy of the club. Maybe I haven’t got that energy left at this moment to feel that we’re going to take on Arsenal at the weekend and not just stop them and beat them. That is my job. If I don’t believe that and at the minute I’m tired.
Question: Was there any thought of bringing someone in to give you the breathing space?
IH: We discussed that as well but I think those things undermine the manager more than anything else. At the end of the day, my job is to do the best I can for the football club.
I don’t want to blame anything other than some of the bits and pieces that follow this league I don’t particularly like. I shouldn’t take them personally. The fact that my wife is on a bus strongly suggests everyone else should do it if you’ve got the results that I have so far. What that’s got to do with it? My wife doesn’t need that rubbish to be honest.
We can sit down. I’m proud of our efforts. I’m very proud of these gentlemen and the football club, not only the supporters but the players. What more can I actually say? You want stories, you got one. Here we are let’s have it. This is what we were discussing and everything was about the betterment of Crystal Palace football club and it will be. If he wants to pick the phone up he knows I’ll be there for him.
What you get with me is real. That’s what I want to be. In this world of complete bullshit media then I’m real. If you want to ask me a question, I’ll answer it as honestly as I possibly can. If you want to write something else, go off and write it. Good luck to you.
Question: You’re making it sound like the players have let you down?
IH: No. The results have let me down because we haven’t got the points I think we deserved.
SP: I think it’s very difficult. You look at the top clubs – they change two, three players.
You’ve got a very successful group but you know everyone in the media is telling you you better make that better. You know you’ve got to strengthen the group. You’ve got this very difficult 25-man squad rule and you’ve probably got to displace people from last year to make it better. You’ve got 14 new faces at the training ground. You’re bringing in people from different countries – some of the lads don’t speak English that well. It’s a completely different challenge for Ian and us as a club.
Probably, what we’re saying is somebody who has experienced that and got some learnings about that kind of thing might be able to help us. Who knows? History will judge whether that’s true.
What can I tell you? I was quite happy to get relegated and come back up with Ian. The word sack was never mentioned between me and any of the other investors or owners of the club. The chief exec and I never had that conversation. It wasn’t something that we thought about. I don’t think in many games we’ve done that bad.
Teams come up in this division and get beat. Norwich got beat six at home didn’t they and things like that. We didn’t capitulate against Liverpool away. I don’t think Ian has lost the players.
I think he realises that we need to make a difference, we need to create better outcomes and we need to do it quickly. We need 15 points in January to give us a fighting chance. He’s been noble and said I can’t do it.
We had a ridiculous summer. If we had a bigger infrastructure of the club he wouldn’t have been watching players until three, four in the morning and desperately trying to get the right answer for us as a football club. Some things are what they are. It is what it is.
I’ve spent three days trying to get him in the frame of mind where he feels he can give a go against Arsenal. Let’s just give it a go at that and see where we go from there. We want continuity at this club. We don’t want manager after manager. It doesn’t help anyone normally.
In this situation, Ian feels very strongly that we need to try and stay in this division and of course we do. It’s so hard to get here. The Championship is a different kind of competitive. Every team in there is much of a muchness. It’s difficult. The games are relentless. The injuries take their toll. You’ve got a loan system that can make a massive difference to everybody.
It’s a different kind of managing in the Premier League. It’s a different kind of player, different kind of ego, different kind of money. I think Ian feels that maybe we haven’t set off on the right track.
We’ve made some mistakes together. I’m not running away from them. I’m not one of those people ‘Oh let’s sack the manager and we can all look great and it wasn’t any of our fault.’ We could have done things in the summer that could have made such a difference to Ian’s job.
Unfortunately, you have to learn very quickly in football. It doesn’t wait for you. Games come along, decisions have to be made, deadlines are there, 25-man squad have to be named, transfer window deadline. Nobody makes their mind up about anything until the last day and that kind of thing. We have Darren Bent, we haven’t got Darren Bent. It takes its toll.
Once the season starts I can have a little bit of a rest. I can maybe have an extra hour in bed in the morning. Ian’s on the training pitch – he’s the first on the training ground.
If you want my honest opinion, I think he goes on the training pitch a bit too much. You’ll find some of the top managers feel their voice has more impact if the players hear it less. Does it really matter if the manager is out there marshalling the backline on what to do and who calls what? It doesn’t. It’s a technical thing in football that you want your coaches doing. Your manager has got so many things to do.
Because Ian is such a positive guy he perhaps needs to be more selfish. He looks after every aspect of the club. He comes to talk to the fans. He’s so accessible for you guys a lot of the time and he doesn’t shirk his responsibilities. He doesn’t do half the job and do all that bit. He does everything that he needs to do as a football manager and maybe in the Premier League it sucks a lot more energy because you guys want a lot more out of him, the fans want a lot more out of him. The events are bigger and there are more players.
Often I would imagine a lot of the squads that Ian’s had you’re trying to get 11 on the pitch not try to balance how many you’re going to upset because they’re not the team.
It’s a different kind of challenge but he’s been brave enough to say I can learn it, I can get there but I’m not sure in time to save you this season and I don’t think I want to let you down like that. They were his words to be. It was as honourable and as decent as that.
IH: Do you understand why when I first wanted to come here I got a four and half year contract and I wanted to build.
If you look at Swansea and how they play football. It’s taken them eight years to get that in place, get the work on it and all they’ve done is gradually improved the standard by one or two players a year.
We haven’t got the time to do that. We needed to do it now. It’s two different things. Okay, we had to try and use the exceptional talent that we had in the team at the time which was Wilfried [Zaha] with the balance of [Yannick] Bolasie and [Glenn] Murray and we haven’t had them this season.
Do you think we don’t speak about this? Of course we do. We needed to try and get back to the place where we were at the end of it and things haven’t really worked out for us.
SP: Three players in the team of the Championship as voted by the other players so the front line of the best in the Championship and we came out without it. We didn’t have our Rickie Lambert. We didn’t have our talisman in Wilf. We sold him – that was a decision we made.
IH: We could never have controlled his future.
SP: Could we have turned down Man United for the kid? We got the best of both worlds. We got his frame of mind right and look what he did to get us up. Yannick’s been injured as well this season.
It’s an enormous amount to cope with as a football club. We had to get three players to get back to ground zero and it’s taken its toll I think on Ian. It’s been an incredible amount of work and he feels that he’s got to go in after every one of those defeats.
You’ve got to go in and you’ve got to believe and give that energy to those boys and along with Ian’s desire to play a certain style of football he felt maybe something different would work.
Question: Who will take charge on Saturday?
SP: Keith Millen will take charge.
Question: What sort of timescale have you got for picking a new manager?
SP: It’s what I said before. It’s relentless this division. You’d like to have someone in place next week. Ian and I had a final conversation this morning as I wanted him to sleep on it once more.
I haven’t got a list. It wouldn’t have been right even from Monday because I didn’t know he wanted to do. I wanted him to wake up and say ‘sorry about that little blip.’ That’s not been the case and so we start looking.
It’s not a process I enjoy. It’s a horrible process. I’ll have millions of texts from Carlos Vandango and if he’s not they’ll make a person up and give him to me. It’s great that everybody wants the job. It’s very difficult to sift that. When we care about the club as we do. We’ll try and get the right answer.
I’m not going to dress it up. I’m a Palace fan and I watch Championship football. I watch Premier League football occasionally. Everything about our club understands Championship football.
We need someone who can help us on a massive learning curve on what we need to do and what we don’t.
Three years ago we didn’t own our football ground, we were bankrupt, we didn’t own our training ground and we had about five first team pros at the start of the season.
As Ian constantly reminds me we can’t get too downheartened. We’re second from bottom in the Premier League. We’ve got 30 games to go. Maybe this man has fallen on his sword if you like, done the most honourable thing in the world and maybe give us a shot.
Maybe I should have talked him out of it. He’s a great manager. He’ll go on and be incredibly successful and I believe he can be very successful if the club has got a bit more infrastructure and is more ready for it and can help him a little bit more. In the league below, he’s got two promotions, he’s been in the play-offs in between the two promotions.
He’s never had the most money by a million miles. If you’re going to measure what management is all about. For me it’s about getting the best out of the resources you’ve got.
We’ve got teams outspending us two to one in the Championship yet Ian got us up. Blackpool had the lowest wage bill of three and half million and got them up. He came back down, sold most of the players and got them in the play-offs the next year with a similar wage bill.
He’s an extraordinarily good manager and that’s why I went and got him. Sometimes, like Benitez was at Liverpool for a year people are right for a certain amount of time. We’ve got to find someone who can take us on the next part of the journey.
IH: I think it’s about energy. I think this club needs that impetus of energy and I feel pretty tired and I know people think: ‘What’s the matter with him?’ I watched Arsenal last night and their previous game yesterday afternoon just to make sure and I’m worn out. Keith and I have already planned the team to be. He knows what’s going to happen tomorrow.
I didn’t know what I was going to say here because [co-chairman] Steve Browett rung me on the way over and normally I deal with this Steve [Parish]. At the end of the day all I can do is be as honest as I can and wish everybody from the kitman Brian to everybody at the club the very very best. They deserve success.
I hate to say it but I need some time to chill out. I really do. I miss my grandson a little bit. I thank my wife for putting up with me and I need a bit of time to chill out but I’ll be looking for these scores.
Question: Is it impossible to keep the club up this season?
SP: I don’t think so. Of course I don’t think that. I think it’s going to be difficult. We’re under no illusions. We’re probably not a mid-table Premier League side. Results, not performances of me, but results.
Maybe Fulham second half was the only time I felt we didn’t put up enough of a fight. Every other game – Spurs we should have got a point. Stoke away – maybe a little bit of naivety but not playing ability.
I think we’ve got every chance of getting the right number of points. We’re in a division of four, five teams. I might be wary of Arsenal and those kind of teams but there are teams down there that I know we can get a result against.
Outside the top six, I think we can get a result against anybody. If we were playing them in the cup, we’ve got to win 10 cup ties. Bradford got to the League Cup final playing 4-4-2. We beat Man United away in the League Cup.
We’ve got a decent group of players there. We’ve got to find a format that gets results. Hopefully someone that is used to the division and advise us and help us do that. In January, maybe, we can put more ingredients in there.
We’ve got Glenn Murray coming back and that’s like a £4-5million striker. I put that price tag on him because of his age. If he was younger – 30 goals in the Championship you’d be talking £8-9m.
We’ve got Glenn to come back, we’ve got the loan system in January and I think this group of players can pick up points. I’ve got no doubt that we can do it.
Question: Would Tony Pulis interest you?
SP: Tony has never got relegated from the Premier League. He’s out of work. He’s got Premier League experience – it’s not a bad shout.
IH: He’s one of my best mates.
SP: There’s lots of things that you’ve got to consider. People that have an affinity with the club does help. We saw that with Dougie. I wonder if the fans would have given Ian as much time as they gave Dougie. We went 24 games with two wins in the Championship across the seasons. Dougie’s a hero at the club. They were very patient and we were able to build from there. I think that does help when times are tough that there’s an affection from the fans.
Before I came into the game I didn’t get the fishing in your own pond. I didn’t get that. Why don’t you get the best person. Why get somebody that’s got a history with the club. In this day and age, in this division with you guys where three losses everybody is like: ‘Are you going to sack him?’ I think it helps take the pressure of a bit. I wouldn’t discount anyone at this stage. We need to find the right stage.
Question: Will you be back? You haven’t fallen out of love with football?
IH: How can you fall out of love with football?
Question: Management then?
SP: He’ll be back.
IH: I have to say I’m going to go home. My good lady deserves a breather. I thank her for letting me do all sorts of things.
What’s upset me is that certain things have been said and written. Normally I’d laugh them off. She doesn’t deserve any criticism. She doesn’t deserve the fact I’ve worked this hard to be questioned in any way shape of form. The club don’t deserve it either.
These gentlemen know how hard I’ve worked and they appreciated that so much they didn’t want me to do that. I think they’ve got a great chance.
They’ve got 30 more games and they need to get some points now and the best chance they have is if they use some of the money that this big division gives them to actually maybe get someone who they couldn’t have afforded before when they chose me.
Now they might be able to do that and it might make the difference. If I sit in my living room at home and see that happen, nobody will be jumping higher than me.
It’s a very very special place. It’s a unique place. I didn’t understand it before and I certainly do now and I wish them all the very best in what they do best.
Question: Will you be making a call to Pulis?
IH: If that phone call happened the other way it’s not my place to do that. Does he want to bother anymore after finishing at Stoke doing what he’s done at Stoke and then things have been said and written about him that I think are disgusting but that’s football for you.