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By ESPN Staff

Holloway expects difficult summer

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway is a firm believer in second-season syndrome and anticipates a stressful summer planning how to overcome it should his team beat the drop.

The Seasiders, competing in their first Premier League campaign, are currently on course to emulate the achievement of tomorrow's opponents Wolves last season by avoiding an immediate return to the Championship.

It has been tougher in the top flight for the midlands outfit this term and they go into Saturday's Molineux meeting bottom of the table - and with Holloway's sympathies.

"Second-season syndrome - I understand how it works," said Holloway, whose side are five points clear of the relegation zone.

"You stay up and are elated at first, then all of a sudden you have got to do it again, then you try to buy slightly better players and upset the ones you have already got.

"This level is fascinating. The second season, if you can get there, is the one to worry about.

"We are loving the first one and, really, we should go down. But if we don't, ahead of the second one I can assure you I'll have the worst summer ever.

"I will be worried about what on earth I am going to do, because most teams go down, no matter how good they are, in the second season."

Holloway phoned Wolves manager Mick McCarthy last summer to congratulate him on keeping the club up and as far as he is concerned they remain good friends, despite a disagreement that flared up between them in November.

The Blackpool manager made 10 changes to his side for a match against Aston Villa, the same number of adjustments made by McCarthy for a game at Manchester United the previous season which landed Wolves a suspended £25,000 fine.

With the Premier League deciding to investigate the Blackpool case, Holloway said the two situations were different because McCarthy had admitted "playing a lesser XI" at Old Trafford as he felt Wolves could not win.

McCarthy was unhappy at that suggestion and later revealed Holloway had apologised to him. The Seasiders have since been hit with a £25,000 fine and, looking back on the spat, Holloway said: "I have got the utmost respect for Mick.

"Unfortunately, when everyone jumped down my throat about the team I picked against Aston Villa, it was thrown in and I upset him. But he's a great man, a fantastic man.

"We're always going to be mates, I hope - although we won't be on Saturday."

Wanderers might be rock bottom, but Holloway is certainly not expecting an easy task this weekend.

"I feel that they are probably the most unlucky side all season," the 47-year-old said.

"When we played here (at Bloomfield Road), we came in 2-0 up at half-time, but they did not deserve to be two down. They kept going and it was 2-1 in the end.

"They were very unfortunate and I know how tough this is - on their own patch, they have beaten Chelsea and Manchester United."

As for his own team, Holloway has been talking up 19-year-old midfielder Matt Phillips and striker DJ Campbell - who netted his ninth goal of the season in the 3-1 win over Tottenham on Tuesday - as potential England internationals.

"I don't anticipate him being with us that long because I have seen things in him that the players at the top clubs in the world have got," Holloway said of Phillips, who is already capped at under-19 level.

"It's just about the boy keeping his feet on the ground because there are no limits to his potential.

"Long-term, I've no doubt that boy will be in someone's team - hopefully ours - every week and everyone will be talking about him for England.

"No-one's played better than DJ this season and the other night for that goal, he was unmarkable.

"It was absolutely brilliant, and what a finish. Let's hope he gets what he deserves because I have never worked with a better player than that either.

"He is a brilliant lad. DJ for England - why not?"

Meanwhile, Seasiders defender Danny Coid has returned to League Two side Rotherham for another loan spell.


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