Monday 5 May ~
So Leicester City are relegated from the Championship despite conceding less than a goal a game – just 45 in 46 matches – and having finished on 53 points, three more than the total usually required for safety in that division. Such statistical anomalies will be no consolation, of course, for supporters of a team who are to play at the third level for the first time ever. Leicester had five different managers within the last year and might be expected to have another in charge of the start of 2008-09. They may yet end up with a new owner too.
Manager Ian Holloway had plenty to say during the build up to yesterday's match at Stoke. Then again he is a regular columnist with BBC Online and has to come up with sufficient material every week. Much of his column is taken up with banal generalisations which scarcely seems to justify its existence on the website of the national broadcaster. But Ian Holloway, the boss of a side that have struggled all season in the Championship, is also Ollie, an outspoken personality-manager, capable of rustling up the occasional headline-grabbing anecdote amid all the banality. Presenting yourself as a knockabout character is fine if you're successful too. However, it all looks a bit hollow, distasteful even, when your team is struggling.
Until now Holloway's career trajectory has been upwards. He was a popular and successful boss at Plymouth whom he left for a more lucrative position at Leicester. An approach from the latter had also been a factor in his leaving his previous club, QPR, who sent him on “gardening leave” during 2005-06 rather than allowing him to talk to Leicester directors. Along the way Holloway developed a reputation for making the sort of post-match quips that turn up in anthologies of football quotes and duly created a secondary career for himself as a personality.
On becoming Leicester's new owner, Milan Mandaric was confident that he could get the club back into the Premier League. He also had some strong personal views on how a football team should be run, something that set him into conflict with his first manager of the season, Martin Allen, who left at the end of August. Mandaric the attention-seeking chairman and Ollie the character may have seemed tailor-made for one another. But the Leicester players have somehow failed to be inspired. Mandaric is already discussing plans for next season and has taken legal advice over reports suggesting that he considering selling up. So Holloway won't be short of material for his BBC columns for a while yet – although one job loss would surely lead to another.