El Hadji Diouf is the sultan of bling, a symbol of ostentatious wealth and tastelessness. That, at least, is the image created by the metallic gold Cadillac, chrome Merc and gangster-rap attire. On a sinister level, he has been guilty of cynical diving and of spitting at fans and foes. Now, according to Sam Allardyce after his key role in Blackburn's last-gasp win at Blackpool, Diouf is a reformed character.
The Senegalese attacker has never quite fulfilled the promise he showed in the 2002 World Cup. Allardyce has tended to get the best out of him, particularly at Bolton, and the Blackburn manager was keen to hail Diouf's "major contribution" after Brett Emerton had sealed a rare away success.
"It's about 'can you handle him?'" Allardyce said of the 29-year-old. "He's quite a jovial, pleasant lad but he has spells where he loses his cool and makes trouble for himself. He's a bit of a Jack the lad and can get carried away. Now he's maturing somewhat and long may it continue. It's not that he's scared of me, but I think he respects me and I respect his ability.
"I tell him about the stuff he has to be careful about, how he portrays himself with his clothes. He has some of the worst gear you've ever seen. Some of the colours, the big chains and big belts – you can't miss him from three miles away. He's still doing that, though I don't think he's flashing around the Manchester nightclubs like he used to. He was never going to lose his image completely but he hasn't got himself in trouble for years now, on or off the field."
Diouf's twisting runs and close skills ensured a stream of crosses while allowing Blackburn's defence to push up. "He was brilliant with the threat he posed down either wing," said Allardyce.
Following one Diouf delivery, Charlie Adam upheld the resort's comedic tradition with a headed own goal. Matt Phillips equalised two minutes into his Premier League debut, but Blackpool paid a harsh price for a laudable, if arguably naive, push for victory when a stoppage-time counter-attack culminated in Emerton's first goal in two years.
Blackpool 4-3-3: Gilks; Eardley (Phillips, 83), Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Taylor-Fletcher, Vaughan, Adam; Campbell, Harewood (Grandin, 66), Ormerod (Varney, 65). Substitutes not used: Kingson (gk), Southern, Sylvestre, Keinan.
Blackburn Rovers 4-1-4-1: Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Jones; M B Diouf (Emerton, h-t), Nzonzi (Andrews, 67), Pedersen, E H Diouf; Kalinic (Benjani, 76). Substitutes not used: Bunn (gk),Olsson, Hoillet, Chimbonda.
Man of the match E H Diouf.
Possession Blackpool 53% Blackburn 47%
Shots on target Blackpool 8 Blackburn 8
Referee M Dean (Wirral) Attendance 15,901. Match rating 7/10.Reuse content