Saturday 16 November 2019

Holloway livid as Blackpool are beaten at own game

Blackpool 1 Wigan 3

Ian Holloway cites Roberto Martinez as the catalyst for the alteration of his football philosophy. During a sabbatical, Blackpool's manager became captivated by the Spaniard's then-Swansea team's possession game. "Roberto inspired me to change my view of the way the game should be played," he said.

Ironically, Holloway was left cursing as Martinez's side elegantly hauled themselves off the foot of the table while pushing Blackpool into the bottom three for the first time this season. With Charles N'Zogbia excelling, the visitors belied recent struggles courtesy of expansive passing which left a newly chastened Charlie Adam and company chasing shadows.

It all represented comprehensive revenge for Blackpool's 4-0 crushing of Wigan at the DW stadium back in August. Eight months ago, Holloway's implementation of a Spanish-style purist aesthetic promised unexpected glory but, unlike Martinez, he does not have an N'Zogbia to help execute the strategy amid the intense pressures of spring-time six-pointers.

"Completely amateurish," acknowledged Blackpool's manager. "We've given ourselves a mountain to climb but when you get in a run like this it's really difficult to stop."

Holloway's mood was not improved by his charges' impending journey to London for tonight's Footballer of the Year awards. "A complete nonsense," he snorted. "A disguised booze-up with ties on -- and we certainly shouldn't be slapping each other on the back."

Martinez's side were swiftly high-fiving after Craig Cathcart's slip enabled Hugo Rodallega to connect with N'Zogbia's typically shrewd through pass. Matthew Gilks, preferred to Richard Kingson in Blackpool's goal, advanced to narrow the angle but was swiftly embarrassed as Rodallega slipped a shot between his legs en route to the bottom corner. "We are staying up," chorused the travelling fans -- and watching N'Zogbia causing menace almost every time he touched the ball, it was hard to disagree.

Surely destined for greater things, the Frenchman teased Holloway's defence to the point where a frustrated Ian Evatt was extremely fortunate to merely be booked for an awful challenge.

By now bright April sunshine was burning off the morning mist which had shrouded Blackpool's famous tower but, seemingly targeted towards energising visiting legs, all the attendant Vitamin D singularly failed to fortify anyone wearing tangerine.

Indeed Holloway's players barely tested Ali Al Habsi during a first half which concluded with N'Zogbia deservedly doubling the lead. It began with Mohammed Diame seizing possession from Adam and feeding the scorer.

From then on it was the N'Zogbia show, the former Newcastle winger displaying superior dribbling skills and devastating change of pace as he dodged two defenders before directing a shot into the bottom corner. "Everybody loves to watch Charlie," enthused a delighted Martinez. "He's got sensational raw talent and he's a huge, huge asset."

With 30 minutes remaining Holloway made a dramatic triple substitution, only for Blackpool to swiftly concede again as Diame's fierce left-footed strike deflected past Gilks off Neal Eardley.

Martinez withdrew N'Zogbia, and with Blackpool suddenly breathing a little easier, DJ Campbell reacted faster than Gary Caldwell and Al Habsi to the fall-out from an Adam free-kick to pull a goal back. But there could be few worse times of year for Blackpool to become acquainted with the drop zone.


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