Holloway's Blackpool sandcastle gets washed away


Sun, 22 May 20:09:00 2011

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway's Premier League rollercoaster ride took one big dip too far on Sunday as the league's most quotable boss watched his side plunge out of the top flight.

The neutral's favourite team were left counting the cost of an attack-at-all-costs approach in their Premier League debut season when a 4-2 defeat at champions Manchester United sealed their fate on the final day of the season.

The match at Old Trafford mirrored the rest of Blackpool's campaign as they sought goals from the first minute, went behind, equalised, edged ahead and then caved in.

"Oh deary me, our castle was made of sand," the Seasiders' boss told a news conference, delivering the verdict in his classic matter-of-fact way with his instantly recognisable Bristol accent.

"It's over, the fat lady has finished singing and I don't like her tune."

Even United fans and the club mascot clapped Blackpool's players off the pitch as the team who had brightened up the Premier League with their fearless play and tangerine shirts went back to the division they had come from a year ago.

Holloway has won many admirers for his attack-minded philosophy and his off-the-wall comments that guaranteed his news conferences and television interviews were always lively affairs.

Only this week he had spoken of the fact his team's aim was just to outscore the opposition as they were no good at "shutting up shop" at the back.

"Our shop never closes," he had said. "It could be those late-night openings which cost us our position."


One of the best examples of late-night looting was by United at Bloomfield Road, where Blackpool had led 2-0 at halftime before succumbing 3-2.

Holloway refused to blame his players, saying he was proud of every single one of them and they approached this last match as they had every other one.

They went behind to a Park Ji-sung goal before going in front through Charlie Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher to give themselves hope at a ground where United have not lost all season.

But an own goal from Ian Evatt and cool finishes from Anderson and Michael Owen crushed their dreams and relegated them along with Birmingham City and West Ham United.

As Blackpool fans swung between celebratory chants of "we're staying up" to frantically checking their phones for updates on the other games, Holloway became increasingly less animated as he stood on the touchline in a sombre black coat.

He had spent the whole of the first half yelling instructions and wildly gesturing with his arms but once United were two goals ahead he simply watched on with his hands behind his back as if resigned to the inevitable.

He was asked if he took any comfort from the fact Blackpool had won so many people's hearts this season.

"They won't (remember us) next year will they," he said. That's it, you are famous for two seconds and then you are gone."

With players like Adam now likely to leave the club, in the words of the machines in the amusement arcades on Blackpool's promenade, it is Game Over.


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