Manchester United 4 Blackpool 2: Holloway storms to exit door with one last punch

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway aimed a parting shot at the Premier League after claiming his club were unfairly handicapped in their battle for survival.

The Tangerines were consigned to a swift return to the Championship after losing a 2-1 lead to eventually fall to this defeat at title winners Manchester United.

Holloway tried to raise a smile as he assessed the devastation but with half a dozen key men virtually certain to leave, he could not hold the bitterness back.

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“The fat lady has finished singing and I do not like the tune,” he declared.

“The Premier League have rung me up and said ‘we really love you Ian Holloway’. But they have never helped me.

“It is a great league. But the people who run it shouldn’t. There should be people above them telling them what to do.

“Nobody has to hear from me for another 12 months but hopefully I will get the chance to tell them about how they do things.”

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Holloway’s anger stems from being told he had to tell players by the third Saturday in May whether options on their contracts were being taken up.

In the instances of Richard Kingson, Marlon Harewood and Brett Ormerod, all of whom were on the bench yesterday afternoon, the answer was no.

Others – Ian Evatt and Keith Southern – are being retained but are now condemned to vastly reduced terms due to Blackpool’s relegation.

“Ask yourself how you would have felt to be me on Monday morning,” said Holloway.

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“The Football League give you five days after your last game. The Premier League told us we had to stick to the exact wording of the contracts.

“This was before the biggest game of my life. Surely common sense should have applied and I could have told them afterwards.”

Unfortunately for Blackpool, their hopes of making light of such difficulties were dashed by a typically robust fightback from United.

Charlie Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, both of whom are now bound to be in demand from top-flight outfits, scored either side of the interval to overturn Park Ji-sung’s opener.

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At that stage, Blackpool were clear of trouble at the bottom.

But Holloway must have known the job was not done.

Anderson pulled the hosts level before Evatt turned Chris Smalling’s low cross into his own net.

Michael Owen stuck the boot in with a fourth near the end.

“You are famous for two seconds in football, then you are gone,” said Holloway.

“If you aim for the stars, you might hit the moon.

“I have nothing but pride for my players and the way they have performed.

“I am ready for the fight to get us back.”

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Chelsea’s defeat at Everton meant United cruised to the title by an impressive nine points, which will go some way to silencing the doubters who have insisted the Red Devils are not a great side.

“Looking back over the years, none has been more dramatic than this,” said Ferguson.

“Apart from the excitement, there have been all those last-minute goals.

“It is the nature of our club to do it that way. They epitomise the spirit of Manchester United.

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“There have been a a lot of great performances. All that nonsense about this not being a great Manchester United team. It is a great feat.

“Yes, we had some disappointing performances away from home, but at home we have been fantastic.

“We scored another four goals (yesterday), seven against Blackburn, five against Birmingham.

“We have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham here. That is pretty good.

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“And now we have won the title more times than anyone else in the country. It is great for our history.”

Ferguson now faces the toughest of tasks – deciding which 11 players will start at Wembley in Saturday’s Champions League final against Barcelona, who the other seven on the bench will be and, of those who collected medals yesterday afternoon, which ones will spend the evening sat in the stand.

“I could pick four or five teams next week and they wouldn’t let us down,” he said.

Holloway had pledged to attack champions Manchester United.

Ultimately though it proved their undoing.

For, after goals from Charlie Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher had threatened to secure their top-flight status for another 12 months, Blackpool were incapable of holding on.

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That the goal which edged them behind for a second time was thanks to one of their own only twisted the knife that little bit deeper, Evatt turning Chris Smalling’s cross into his own net after Anderson had equalised.

Michael Owen added another before the end but by then, Blackpool were already condemned.

Dimitar Berbatov slipped a pass through to Ji-Sung Park midway through the first half and the South Korean clipped home a clinical first-time effort.

Nimanja Vidic’s foul on Taylor-Fletcher allowed Adam to step up and stroke a superb shot past Edwin van der Sar.

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Holloway gave his interval team-talk with his side out of the drop-zone by the slimmest of margins and when Taylor-Fletcher met David Vaughan’s low cross with a deft flick that left van der Sar helpless Blackpool led 2-1. But Anderson played a pass out wide to Park and was then on hand to belt home from 12 yards.

After Evatt’s catastrophic own goal he almost immediately ound himself beyond the United defence, only for van der Sar to deny the defender with a very brave save which, given he only has the Champions League final left in his entire career, he could have been forgiven for not making.

Owen then strode onto Anderson’s through ball to make it 4-2.