All The Reasons You Want!

Monday, 23 April 2001, 0:00
6 mins read

When I first heard that John Hollins had been appointed manager of Swansea City a BBC reporter asked me what I thought. Initially, you have to be honest and say that he has a great football pedigree, as a player that is.

But when his track record as a manager is analysed the alarm bells should have been ringing immediately. Quite simply he was appointed by Steve Hamer, a friend of Hollins at the time, and with Molby recently departed and the inept handling of Mickey Adams by the Swansea board, Hamer had to do something. It was at a time when the bluff of Morfa developments was at it’s height. Mcclure was bluffing all and sundry, making his third announcement of a date for the development to go ahead, and opposition against his fabrications were building. So Hollins came in.

Talk of Chelsea and QPR contacts that would assist in the rebuilding of the side was rife, and Hollins was welcomed. Personally, and as is documented, I felt he was a soft option. Someone who would just ” Do as he was told ” and ” Tow the party line “

He fitted the bill perfectly. He struck me as someone who enjoyed the up market ” secret drinking clubs ” of the smoke, not as a manager intent on resurrecting our side. The cigar smoke in those clubs reeks of nationalism and English pride.

Anything outside the capital city of London ( like Wales ) is laughed at and racist attitudes about our culture ( queue traditional sheep noises ) are to the fore. Was he to be the new messiah ? Quickly he acted. He did nothing. His first season was indifferent, and Hollins ( as he has to date ) signed not one UK based professional player permanently.

Many were worried that he could not see that we needed severe strengthening in the February and March of 1999 leading up to the Scunthorpe play off semi finals. It was almost as if his stubborn approach to his playing staff would be to the detriment of our club. It has turned out to be true.

That season we had nine injuries, and Hollins took us on a trail of defeats that badly affected our promotion chances. The team, built by Cork and Molby was his personal property. We the fans would have to put up with it. As is now documented in Jackplug players like Martin Thomas and Julian Alsop were in despair. His inept training techniques ( there seems to be none ) produced bored players who needed more than a run on the beach to motivate them.

Steve Jones dared to ask for a decent contract after an original offer was rejected. This made him Hollins number one target. Steve was messed about for months ( For any doubters read Martin Thomas interview in Jackplug for proof ) When he did agree to sign a contract a few months back they withdrew it. The price of being an enemy of the Swansea system no doubt.

Roger Freestone suffered under the Hollins management method too, in the end he by passed the manager and struck a deal with Mike Lewis, a deal which will be documented well in his forthcoming book.

Suffice to say the man who was recommended to Swansea City as a ” good commercial man ” was out of his depth. And Mike Lewis had made yet another drastic error. Another sad indictment of mismanagement at The Vetch Field from people clearly out of their depth. Fans cried out for decent ( even free transfers ) signings that would motivate the North Bank and give them hope.

What we got was a Chairman in Steve Hamer who got so frustrated he went and signed Walter Boyd, after cleverly manipulating Hollins in to thinking he had made the signing. Hollins clearly didn’t want Walter there as he dropped him continuously, and only the intervention of Neil Mcclure in September 2000 ( Alsop was dropped ) did we start to see Walter play properly. It was at this time that Hollins should have been sacked.

But of course, unlike Molby he had already taken us on an awful run and to 17th in the division, surely if Molby was sacked for poor results then Hollins should go too ? Mcclure maintained that Hollins was the man, or should he have said ” He does as I tell him, therefore I won’t sack him ”

The truth is if Nick Cusack had not headed a fluky goal at Chester City in the December of 1999 then Hollins would not have been manager of Swansea City. The price would have been nothing to the price that would have to be paid now to rid us of John Hollins. Rightly Steve Hamer gave Hollins all the plaudits for a stuttering promotion at Rotherham.

Swept away with emotion he stupidly awarded him with a three year contract. The money far outweighing even Jan Molby’s fee for his time in charge. That contract award for Hollins was yet another inept move by the Swansea board and was done to show all the doubters just what a great manager he was.

Real signs of his lack of managerial quality came in the summer of 2000. His target was Mark Stein, a has been ex Chelsea forward who was looking at retirement not a move to Swansea City. Hamer put forward the name of Mark Robins to Hollins, available on a free transfer, Hollins was in the driving seat, he refused to look at him.

Throughout the summer Mike Lewis kept the press informed of John Hollins busying himself in the transfer market. We lost Julian Alsop, and replaced him with – Nobody. A promoted team of Swansea’s calibre capable of 8,000 average second division crowds signed one player. Andrew Mumford from Llanelli.

Hollins spent the summer doing nothing, and when challenged by Jon Wilsher at The Evening Post was hostile. Wilsher was banned from interviewing players which in time saw the pressman leave his current post at the paper, in true style genuine Swans fans in The MAGS were also banned from sponsoring games. All this whilst racists gathered on the North Bank and violence at Swansea games increased, the club did nothing.

This season saw us start at home to Wigan. John Hollins inept transfer dealings ( none ) saw Nick Cusack start up front in game that ended in a draw. Warning signs there that this team would struggle. And we did. Hamer was sacked after behind the scenes wranglings over the stock market float. Simply he felt that Mcclure was raping us and was ready to do a runner with the money. And Mike lewis calmly manipulated himself the position of Managing Director. Remember he came to us as a commercial bod, nothing more.

On the pitch we were not good enough, and off it we were paying Premiership wages to people who had neither the intelligence or brains to justify it. The players were unhappy, that is with one exception, Nicholas Cusack. He at every opportunity has slagged off the fans in the press ( Wales on Sunday – 14/4/01 ) and made an empire for his retirement. The man who is ” Happy to stay in Swansea ” really means he wants a coaching job from Hollins. Drastic measures in the form of Savarese, Verschave and Fabiano came too late.

All three found the fight too much, and on Saturday Hollins could bluff us no more. We were relegated. The club is up for sale, rumours that are now being laughed at in the press are rife, but none of them are true. The Swansea arm of the McClure PR wheel is a joke. And John Hollins has even been joked about in The Independent for his quotes of the season.

Yes, the same quotes that he used at QPR when they too had heard and seen enough of him. But he has a few allies left, the creeping few who yearn to say they know him, the ones who back slap him though ignorance and sadness at their own lives. The sad people who give him hope, because their incompetent lives dictate that they need to know this man.

The people who have neither the intelligence or the bottle to face the many who want the man to go. Hollins is in his safe South Wales job, made safer by a board who cannot afford to get rid of him and pay him off, the cigar smoke of the London clubs has a big smiling face, and gives all a two fingered salute.

We are again third division rubbish compliments of a stubborn manger whose managerial decisions are equally as incompetent as the people who tell him he is safe. He has failed miserably, the club has failed miserably and the Championship win of last season means nothing. And still he remains like a squatter believing he has rights to reside where he wants to because the landlord cannot shift him. That’s how stubborn he is, that’s the manger some of you have wanted.

Enjoy him, he is your manager, Johnny Hollins, great bloke, nice guy, and with two years left to run on a contract that is raping the finances of Swansea City FC. Congratulations, you have what you want, and a third division team to support to boot. How sensible you have been, enjoy the Carlisles and the Hartlepools of 2001.

Enjoy the Hollinsesque remarks about a midfield of Devlught, Phillips and Jenkins. And a front line of Watkin and Mumford. It’s what you wanted, you sang his name and stood up for him when he should have gone 18 months ago. And now he has rights, squatters rights based on a three year contract. Oh, how happy you must be today. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated ?

Keith Haynes writes for Swansea City’s best match day read –

JACKPLUG. Issue 5 is out now and available from – Diff’rent Records, Room 5, Salubrious passage, Swansea, West Glamorgan. Send 1.50 to cover postage. This issue has interviews with Jan Molby, Martin Thomas ( not to be missed ) and John Cornforth – who wants to be manager of Swansea City.

If you still venture down to The Vetch Filed with the other 3,000 or so then it can be purchased in all the pubs around the ground and Waterstones. E mail Keith at : the-voice@the-mags.fsnet.co.uk

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Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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