Win or lose, my Blackpool will put on a show says Ian Holloway


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The Independent Football

They are surely the romantics' favourites to go up via the Championship play-offs, and Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has vowed that if the Tangerines earn promotion this season, it will be as the great entertainers.

Blackpool host Birmingham City in the first leg of their semi-final tonight, and Holloway insists there will be no change to the "We will try to score one more than you" policy which endeared his side to so many in the Premier League last season.

Holloway believes the play-off line-up has never been stronger, with Cardiff and West Ham completing a stellar foursome. He said: "I am totally excited. It is an absolute honour to be involved in what could be one of the best Championship play-off fights of all time. We have done brilliantly to get there – let's see what happens next.

"Someone has to win it – why can't it be us? I know we have to be at our maximum to do it but the boys are looking in fantastic shape. Let's hope it lives up to its billing and there are a lot of goals. That's what we'll be trying to do again – outscore the opposition and win.

"Perhaps we are not the laughing stock we used to be, so maybe people won't take us so lightly this time. But I still think most will have us down as rank outsiders. West Ham are a huge club. Cardiff have got massive expectations and have already got to a cup final this season. Birmingham have been a Premier League side for years and want to get back there. So all four of us are desperate to do it and may the best team win – it is going to be fantastic."

The Birmingham City goalkeeper Colin Doyle said the Blues have exceeded all expectations simply by reaching the play-offs. He said: "At the start of the season if you'd spoken to the fans and said we would get to the play-offs, they would have snapped your hands off.

"With so many players leaving and a new manager [Chris Hughton] coming in, it was tough – but we're delighted to finish in the play-offs and we've just got to push on now."

Probable teams

Blackpool (4-3-3): Gilks; Eardley, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey; Ferguson, Angel, Dobbie; Ince, Taylor-Fletcher, M Phillips.

Birmingham (4-4-2): Doyle, Murphy, Pablo, Davies, Ramage; Burke, Huseklepp, Mutch, Redmond; King, Zigic.

Referee M Halsey (Lancashire).

TV times Sky Sports 1, 7.30pm.