But the man I heard quitting Crystal Palace sounded like someone tired of life and weary of managing in the Premier League.
I will go one step further. Ian Holloway sounded to me like someone on the verge of clinical depression. And that is a sentence I never expected to write. Ian has always been ebullient, full of fizz and fun.
On Monday, prior to Palace getting well beaten by Fulham, the alarm bells rang for me when I heard Holloway say this: “If my days ended today, and I don’t wake up tomorrow at all and I’m resting in a little wooden box; I’ve had a damn good go at it.”
Is Ian Holloway another manager being overtaken and overwhelmed by modern day footballers? I ask because of what Holloway said in the press conference held 48 hours later. When he and his friend, the Palace Chairman Steve Parish, announced a parting of the ways.
Holloway said: “I am very tired to be quite honest. With the changes in the squad, we didn’t keep the spirit that got us up. We’ve tried to change too quickly and some of the new lads, I’m finding their attitude annoying – and that’s not right.
Parish said: “Ian would have carried on if I asked him to but his energy levels are low and he was struggling with the whole environment at the club and he didn’t feel it was working in his favour. It was very much a mutual thing. He would have stayed on and given his best but he feels someone with more experience of this league will give us a better chance of staying up.”
Parish concluded: “Ian is an honest, straightfoward and decent man. He wanted us to part company so that we could get on with the football.”
I hate it when football people use the word pressure in relation to players, managers and matches. To my mind pressure is something experienced by nurses, those who care for loved ones at home with no help, doctors who have the lives of people in their hands etc etc.
But listening to Ian Holloway this week, it is clear that the pressure of managing a Premier League club can be too much.
Even for a man who we’ve previously known as the life and soul of the party.
Indeed, when you are billed as the court jester, tumbling into a clinically depressed state of mind can be much harder to deal with and more tempting to hide. That so many people outside of the club did not see this coming, and that so many people were shocked to hear Holloway’s tone of voice, should of itself be a concern to his nearest and dearest.
As Smokey Robinson once sang: “People say I’m the life of the party ‘cos I tell a joke or two. Although I might be laughing loud and hearty. Deep inside I’m blue…Outside I’m masquerading. Inside my hope is fading.“
Ian Holloway is a marmite manager. You either like him or loathe him. I have always had lots of time for the man.
My advice to him, for what it’s worth, is to a) see a good doctor re his exhaustion and low spirits and b) don’t take another job in football until next summer.