There’s no doubt in my mind that Ian Holloway would be the right man to take over from Brendan Rodgers at Swansea.
The likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been linked with the job and while they are big names who achieved a lot as players, I think Ollie has the edge in terms of experience. He’s also an excellent man-manager.
Most importantly, he would continue the brand of football Rodgers and Roberto Martinez introduced at Swansea.
I certainly wouldn’t have been able to say that about him a few years ago and I know he’d be the first to admit that.
But the great thing about Ollie is that he’s developed so much as a manager and has embraced new ideas.
During his time out of the game after he left Leicester, I went to see him at his house in Bristol and we spoke for ages about how his ideas had changed.
OLLIE’S MANAGERIAL PATH
1996-2001: Bristol Rovers
Since 2009: Blackpool
When I played under him at QPR he had a certain way of doing things, but since his experience at Leicester he’s taken stock.
He’s studied the game and looked at new ways of doing things, and that’s been highlighted by what he’s done at Blackpool.
When I visited him he said that he’d be a much better manager when he got back into the game. He realised what he’d been doing wrong and spoke passionately about the need to play a more open, expansive game.
He wanted to get away from the old way of doing things, with 4-4-2 and balls into the channels. He’d studied forward-thinking coaches and talked about the 4-3-3 system he now favoured – a similar style to the one Rodgers has since used at Swansea.
He was saying to me ‘Imagine how good you’d be in a system like that’ – this from the man who’d previously wanted Dan Shittu to bang the ball forward as early as possible and favoured the kind of anti-football a lot of managers focus on these days.
When he got the job at Blackpool, I spent pre-season training with them and saw at first hand the immediate impact he had there.
It was a surprise to many people how well they did in his first season, but I’d seen straightaway that he really meant business and had come back a much more complete manager.
One of his great strengths is his excellent man-management skills– and that’s really important. He’s down-to-earth and deals with players in the right way.
Yes, someone like Bergkamp, who was brought up on total football at Ajax, would have a lot of gravitas. But would he be able to man-manage at a club where there are no obvious stars?
Ollie definitely would be able to get the best out of that group of players. He’d be ideal in that respect.
I also know from my time as a Cardiff player that there’s an intensity in Wales that any manager of Swansea will need to understand.
Again, I think Ollie is well equipped. He has the personality to manage in that environment and also has experience from his years in Bristol, where there’s something similar with City and Rovers.
Ollie’s done a brilliant job at Blackpool with the resources he’s had there and definitely deserves another crack at the Premier League.
I also think having someone continue the Rodgers-Martinez way is really important – not only for Swansea, but for football in this country.
We need more managers who play football the way it should be played.
Modern-day managers seem to be moving in the opposite direction, but the modern-day Ian Holloway is a refreshing alternative.
He’d be great for Swansea and Swansea would be great for him. It’s the perfect fit.