Ian Holloway and the laugh-free season

As the Crystal Palace manager reveals his plans for the new season, Vincent Ralph asks if he would be better off maintaining his previous guise.

There were no laughs or witty retorts? In fact, Ian Holloway’s latest press-conference reminded me of Adam Sandler in Funny People – the comedian grown tired of guffaws.

From now on, the Crystal Palace manager will speak about football and only football, in a matter-of-fact manner with no resorting to punch-lines.

And I have to admit to being saddened by that prospect.

Holloway is a character…or at least he used to be; a character in an age when they are becoming increasingly rare. His jokes were not said to overshadow his clubs’ weaknesses but to highlight them; and where others openly berated officials he slipped in insults cannily disguised as one-liners.

His jokes didn’t make him a clown, they illustrated his intelligence. But now he has declared he is “fed up with that”.

I’m not a comedian,” he said, “I’m a football manager.”

There is an argument that you can be both. But there is also an argument that Holloway is closing his metaphorical joke book because he can’t see many smiles in the season ahead, or even bittersweet moments worthy of a giggle.

Palace are being tipped by many to finish this season at the bottom of the pile. With Wilfried Zaha departed and Glenn Murray a long-term absentee, Holloway’s frustration in the transfer market speaks of difficult times ahead.

Where other clubs have strengthened – some considerably – the Eagles are arguably weaker now than they were when they were promoted.

Palace will fight hard and long during the new campaign. And Holloway will stoically speak after every game, perhaps a joke or two slipping out unintentionally – a stifled but not completely eradicated habit.

Personally I would like to see the old Holloway. In such adversity, he would thrive.

image: © Mick Baker

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