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Matt Holland's Blog 22

16 January 2013

It's been a busy week in the npower Championship with Michael Appleton joining Blackburn Rovers, Sean O'Driscoll taking the Bristol City job, David Flitcroft being appointed Barnsley manager and Blackpool reportedly in talks with Dundee United to bring Peter Houston to Bloomfield Road. I heard some football broke out at the weekend as well.

If you wrote a script about events at Blackburn and Blackpool this season it would probably be rejected as too far-fetched. Appleton's switch from the Tangerines to Ewood Park after just 65 days and 11 games at Bloomfield Road is a remarkable story and leaves Blackpool looking for their third manager this season.

It's easy to forget that Appleton only has 63 games on his managerial CV. I've got to admit I'm a little surprised that he has forged such a good reputation for himself in such a short space of time but I suspect he's benefited from word of mouth and working under the likes Tony Mowbray and then Roy Hodgson at West Bromwich Albion.

To be fair, he steered a difficult ship with a steady hand during his time at Portsmouth but you've got to say it's hard to reach any conclusions after such a short stint at Blackpool. The challenge now is to see if he can plot a late charge for a Play-Off place with Blackburn Rovers.

Bristol City's approach for Sean makes a lot of sense to me. He was the youth team manager at Bournemouth when I was part of the first-team squad and I was always impressed by his football philosophy and the way he thought the game should be played.

The manner in which he spoke in his first press conference after taking the job suggested he was definitely in it for the long haul. He talked about the 'project' rather than what money he would or wouldn't have to spend in the transfer window and I got the feeling Sean was focused on the future, even if that is in npower League 1 next season.

Saying that, there's still hope for City. Bottom place in the table looks bleak but a couple of decent results could quickly see the side jump out of the bottom three.

Barnsley are second bottom and in many ways I'd say David Flitcroft has a bigger fight on his hands at Oakwell than Sean does at Ashton Gate. Two wins in three as caretaker manager for David was certainly a decent achievement but it's his first managerial job and at 39, he's a real novice. Stranger things have happened but it's a massive ask of such a young manager.

Whether Blackpool manage to tempt Peter Houston south of the border remains to be seen but his record with Dundee United since 2009 speaks for itself and having met Peter in person, I can say he's got an impressive demeanour and knows his own mind.

Peter's got no playing or managerial experience in England but I'm sure he's more than familiar with the English game after working as assistant to Craig Levein and monitoring the form of Scottish players down here. A bit of local knowledge never goes amiss but it's football knowledge that really counts.

In other news, it appears Wilfried Zaha may have dropped a bit of a clanger on Twitter over the weekend, hinting that a deal to take him to Manchester United had already been done. The player denied he'd posted the Tweet but whatever the truth, it's no real secret that United have been keeping an eye on him.

The story raised the possibility of United loaning Zaha back to Crystal Palace for the rest of the season before he packs his bags permanently and heads north in the summer. Some people then questioned whether his commitment to the Palace cause would really be there, knowing he was a United player.

For me, it would make perfect sense for him to stay at Selhurst Park for the rest of the season even if the transfer does go through. He's been at Palace since he was a kid and to suggest his affinity for the club would suddenly evaporate is a nonsense.

It would also make sense for Palace to hang onto him until May as a condition of any deal. The Eagles have gone off the boil in the last six weeks or so and if they want to wrap up one of the two automatic promotion places, they're going to need all their top players.

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