IAN Holloway is back in the QPR hot-seat, returning to the club he served as both a player and a manager with great distinction.
Born on March 12th 1963 in Kingswood, Bristol, Holloway enjoyed a fine playing career, spanning 19 years.
‘Ollie’, as he’s better known, began his career at local side Bristol Rovers, coming through the youth ranks and making over 100 league appearances.
An industrious midfielder, Holloway moved to Wimbledon in 1985, but made just 19 league starts before moving on to Brentford.
His spell with the Bees was short-lived, however, and after a loan spell at Torquay, he was soon on the move back to Bristol Rovers, making over 200 appearances between 1987 and 1991.
Loftus Road was his next port of call in 1991 – as the love affair with QPR began.
In five years in W12, he made 170 appearances, scoring five goals between 1991 and 1996.
He was also part of the Hoops team that famously won 4-1 at Manchester United on New Year’s Day, 1992.
Renowned for his workmanlike, gritty performances, Holloway was also a good distributor of the ball from the middle of the park. He played an important, disciplined role in the free-flowing Rangers team of the early to mid-nineties.
He left QPR in the summer of 1996 and returned to, yes, you guessed it, Bristol Rovers for one final stint, which also kick-started his career in management.
Holloway would oversee 247 games in charge of the Gas, a spell which included an appearance in the Division Two play-offs.
QPR came calling in 2001, with Holloway taking over from Gerry Francis, who moved upstairs to become director of football at Loftus Road.
Rangers – already firmly up against it to survive when Holloway took charge – finished that season by being relegated to the third tier of English football. The club was plunged into financial administration and Holloway had to rebuild by recruiting a mixture of free transfers, trialists and non-league players.
The R’s achieved an eighth-place finish in Division Two in 2001/02, followed by a fourth-place finish the following campaign, culminating in a 1-0 defeat against Cardiff City in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.
Undeterred, Rangers gained promotion as runners-up to Plymouth Argyle in 2003/04, and subsequently finished 11th in our first campaign back in the Championship.
Holloway parted company with QPR in February 2006, having firmly established the R’s in the second tier – mostly on a shoe-string budget – and united the club in a way few managers have the ability and character to do so.
After being linked with a number of jobs, Holloway re-emerged in June 2006 as boss of Plymouth Argyle, where he quickly established a rapport with players and supporters. After his first away win – a 3-2 victory at Sunderland – he memorably offered to buy a drink for all the 700 Argyle fans who made the 800-mile round-trip.
The Pilgrims finished 11th in the second tier in his first full season in charge.
With Plymouth in seventh place in the Championship in November 2007, Holloway resigned to join Leicester City, becoming their fifth manager in a turbulent season.
Having inherited a team threatened with relegation, he left the Walkers Stadium after narrowly failing to keep the club in the Championship.
Blackpool was his next port of call a year on and in his first full season with the Seasiders, Holloway remarkably guided the club to the Premier League with a 3-2 play-off final victory over Cardiff City. The success saw the Seasiders return to the top-flight of English football after a 39-year absence and Holloway became only the second Blackpool manager to win promotion in his first full season.
Blackpool provided fantastic entertainment in the Premier League during the 2010/11 campaign and recorded notable results, which included a league double over Liverpool. Yet despite Holloway’s heroics, on the smallest budget in the division by a considerable margin, the club were relegated on the final day – even though they amassed a notable 39 points.
Undeterred, the following season saw Holloway guide the club to the Championship play-off final, where Blackpool narrowly missed out on an instant return to the Premier League after a 2-1 to defeat to West Ham at Wembley.
A move to Crystal Palace followed in November 2012, and once again, Holloway was back at Wembley at the end of the season, where his entertaining Eagles side were victorious after defeating Watford 1-0.
Holloway’s spell at Selhurst Park ended in October 2013, however, after a difficult start on their return to the Premier League.
Following his appointment at Millwall in January 2014, Holloway went on to secure their Championship status for the 2014/15 season, guiding them from 21st to 19th. The Lions avoided the drop by four points.
He left Millwall the following season and has since enjoyed a productive career as a TV pundit for Sky Sports.