"Yeah thanks for nothing dickheads"
As the final weekend of the Premier League approaches with little to sort out at the top, attention has turned, like a drunk man’s eyes, to how tight things are around the bottom. That Sky will doubtless bill the last day of the season ‘Survival Sunday’, is total rot though, as the only accolade the teams that survive will receive is to be immediately made favourites to go down next year. Make no mistake, friends, Sunday will be about relegation, players looking dejected and grown men crying, but also, hopefully, Blackpool having a massive party.
No one except Holloway and his players seem to believe that Blackpool should be taken as a serious football team and it does them a continuing massive disservice. It is a sad trait of the Premier League that keeping a team up playing attractive football is somehow twisted into a narrative surrounding their budget (although Holloway isn’t shy of reminding people about this) and the fact that Charlie Adam was signed for £500,000. It is sadder still that in not trying to desperately defend a lead, Holloway is defined as naïve. Well fuck you, Premier League. I like Blackpool because they play the way everyone should and I hope they stay up on goals scored and make a fucking mockery of five-across-the-middle, sit-on-a-lead defensive cowardice. That would be fitting.
“Already, our division is saying we can’t beat Manchester United”, Holloway said yesterday. “It does us a massive disrespect. They think we can only beat United if they are weak. What a load of baloney… I am glad I don’t go to work thinking that, otherwise I would never have got promoted last year. That attitude offends me. I take it as a personal insult that, if we beat United, they might get fined because we are supposed to be crap. I don’t understand. Aren’t we capable of winning?”
This prevailing, patronising attitude towards Blackpool is akin to rooting through a bag of onions and finding a delicious apple, then dismissing it because ‘this really looks like it should be a bag comprising solely of onions and an apple has no place here’. Going to Old Trafford for the final day is also fitting. Blackpool aren’t in the Premier League to be cynical and ‘consolidate’. Holloway would try to play attacking football whatever the stakes. And he’s right to be wound up by people laying Manchester United’s selection decisions out in front of him like it doesn’t matter what his own team do.
Similar playground logic that said Birmingham were better than Barcelona for beating Arsenal is employed in saying that whatever team United send out will beat Blackpool. To believe this to the extent that there was a question of the club being punished if they do not is absolutely staggering, as was the decision to fine Wolves and Blackpool earlier in the season. But the Premier League seem to be quite content to make it as difficult as possible for everyone. Take the fact that Blackpool have already had to notify certain players of their release.
“All the contract options, which we do so cleverly, have had to be taken up as if we were still in the Championship, and because the rules state players have to be told by the third Thursday in May, we had to tell them this week. We contacted the league and tried to get it pushed back a week, but we’re told there’s no leeway on that, which is just great. It’s been hideous.”
Don McLean’s words in Vincent are, for a fucking change, rather pertinent here. ‘The world was never meant for one as beautiful as you’. And in a way, maybe another season in the Premier League for Blackpool would be an absolute disaster. Assuming Adam leaves and DJ Campbell follows, their chances, as far as the current squad is concerned, rest on the most thankless job in world football, namely getting Andy Reid fit. They’d have more chance of getting Magic Spongers fit. Half fit. Jogging even.
Holloway’s team may well be more suited to a league in which really good football is not crippled by a paralysing fear of defeat. It’s no coincidence that a more expressive style appears possible when not hamstrung by ‘Champions League revenue’ and ‘parachute payments’. Obviously Blackpool have to survive like every other club, but they and Holloway deserve to do so in league anyone could feasibly win and whose fans aren’t all happy to pay £6 for a burger and whose media don’t all wank themselves silly over what Wayne Rooney’s saying on Twitter. Fuck me, the Premier League really is a shambles. [End of rant]