So once again the loonies are running the asylum. No, not Ian Hollaway - the half wits and hypocrites that run the Premier League. Time to show their true colours again.
It appears that their true colours do not include tangerine. Having taken a break for Christmas - it seems that even these idiots believe in goodwill to all men at yuletide - they have taken up where they left off in November and re-engaged in some Blackpool bashing, imposing a £25,000 fine for fielding a weakened team against Aston Villa in the game on November 10th.
The precedent was set last season of course when they also fined Wolves the same amount for fielding a weakened team against Man United. As much as I also disagree with that decision, especially when you consider that Mick McCarthy's team followed up their victory over Spurs in the preceding game with a win against Burnley in the next, if the situation is the same then you have to take your medicine and swallow it.
The problem is the situation is not the same. The Premier League have moved the goalposts. In fact, they haven't just moved the goalposts, they have picked them up and carried them to the park down the road.
This season all Premier League teams have been forced to select a 25 man first team squad. Only players named in that 25 man first team squad may be picked for games with the exception of under 21 year old players. The rational behind this rule change is at best mirky and seems to lie somewhere in the realms of encouraging home grown players and limiting Manchester City from buying every eligible player in the world. However, the crux of the matter is that the Premier League recognise that it is now a squad game. The days of numbers one to eleven playing for a season have gone.
Surely, having named a 25 man first team squad, it should be up to team managers to then choose which of those 25 first team players to play in any given match. As Ian Holloway himself said, he is the one working with the players on a day to day basis and he is the one who best understands their physical and mental condition, and their readiness to play in each game. At the time Blackpool were in a run of four games in a twelve day period. It is not just about who has the best footballing ability. It is about stamina, form and mental alertness.
At the risk of disappearing into a Hollowayism, to take the example of another squad sport, you don't ask your fastest sprinter to cover all 400 metres in the 4 X 100 metre relay. The other sprinters may not be quite as fast, but they will be fresher and complete the job faster than a tired runner doing it alone. It is the same with football and that is why we now have a squad system. The game is now faster and more demanding than ever before and each team must use its squad to compete at this level.
Squad rotation has been around for years now. The top teams do it on a weekly basis, and can afford to do it with minimum consequences because of their strength in depth. Man United or Arsenal changing two or three players per game is seen as prudent due to the quality of players waiting in the wings. If Ian Holloway chooses to carry out his rotation policy by making ten changes for one game rather than two changes over 5 games then that is his prerogative. After all, it is his job on the line if his rotation policy goes pear shaped. As one contributor on the BBC's 606 website has said - Ian Holloway should tell the Premier League to go and rotate on something very long and not very thin (and I don't think he was talking about Blackpool Rock).
Blackpool lost the game in question 3-2, conceding a goal with a minute to go from a corner. Ironically, that goal was conceded when one of the 'first team' players who had come on as a substitute failed to pick up his man at the corner. If Blackpool deserve to be fined then perhaps it would be more appropriate for them to cite the reason as being Holloway's introduction of this 'first-team' player. The whole thing is a nonsense. If playing a team that is not quite good enough to win a game is wrong then West Ham should be fined on a weekly basis!
We all know that Ian Holloway is bonkers. I think even Ian Holloway knows that Ian Holloway is bonkers. The thing is, no matter how mad what he says appears to be, somehow it makes sense. We don't always know why it makes sense, but we know that it does. Inside that crazy facade there is a football genius that each and every one of us can relate to.
We do not want to lose you from our television screens or from the Premier League Mr Holloway. Having threatened to resign if the club were fined we sincerely hope that you don't. We are not saying that the game needs you - football is bigger than that - but we are saying it will be a little bit worse off without you.
Blackpool have been a welcome addition to this year's Premier League. They are probably everybody's second team now. What is more, they are playing good football and showing that they are not out of place in the league. Perhaps that is what the money men at the Premier League don't like. As a club, Blackpool are about football and not money. They are not playing ugly to stay in the league at all costs. They have kept to their principles and continue to play exciting, attacking football. The idea of Blackpool in the premier league was a nice one. There is something romantic about the little guys showing they can make it up to the top table. Good PR for the Premier League.
Blackpool are not following the script though. They are in serious danger of staying up and keeping bigger teams with larger travelling support out of the league. This may not sit well with the money men. It sits well with football fans though. Just like Ian Holloway's ramblings, the Blackpool story is not what we expected, and we're not sure where it is going next. And just like his ramblings, even though we're not sure where it is going, we are enjoying watching the journey. Long may it last.