Holloway seeks Spanish lessons in survival
Blackpool 1 Aston Villa 1
Monday 14 February 2011
Considering the location, the theme was appropriate. After Ian Holloway and Gérard Houllier had professed themselves happy with a point from an encounter which mixed sporadic brilliance with bouts of the very average, both managers outlined details of the "holiday" they would allow their players on account of neither side having a game next weekend. Blackpool will have today off, train for two days and then kick back for the weekend, while Villa's players do not have to pitch up at their training ground until Thursday morning.
More intriguingly, however, were Holloway's plans for his break. "I have got to get a goalie first, but then I might go to Spain and have a look at how those boys do things. If I'm modelling myself on anything, it is over there. I like what they do, that is why I want to go and see what I can learn from them over there. If I can, I will." Holloway went on to admit that he had already been in email contact with somebody in Spain – Jose Mourinho possibly? – but confirmed that given a free choice, he would prefer to visit Barcelona.
It is arguable, though, that Holloway might be better served ignoring the Barça template and, with his side just two points above the drop zone, settling on something a little more pragmatic between now and the season's end. Blackpool, who survived a first-half onslaught from Villa to go in level at the break thanks to Elliot Grandin's 14th-minute near-post header, were teed up to win Saturday's game here once Jean Makoun was sent off in the 70th minute for a needless lunge at DJ Campbell.
However, in those final 20 minutes, they failed to engineer so much as one clear-cut chance, thanks, in main, to the wonderful sturdiness of Richard Dunne and James Collins. In short, Blackpool appear capable of scoring only when the game is fast, open and chaotic; against teams whose primary intent is to defend, as Villa's certainly was following Makoun's dismissal, Holloway needs to find another way.
Houllier, meanwhile, did not divulge his plans for his few days off but he surely cannot afford to get too comfortable with Villa just three points above 18th-placed Wigan. He should be perplexed as to why his side looked so dangerous in the first half – where Gabriel Agbonlahor's 10th-minute goal was symptomatic of their attacking verve – and utterly listless in the second, but chose to dwell on the positives. "The whole team behaved as men today," he said.
Scorers: Blackpool Grandin 14 Aston Villa Agbonlahor 10.
Subs: Blackpool Puncheon 6 (Grandin, 39), Phillips 6 (Harewood, 68), Reid 6 (Varney, 72) Aston Villa Collins 8 (Cuellar, 27), Heskey 5 (Bent, 57), Bradley 6 (Agbonlahor, 73)
Booked: Blackpool Baptiste, Evatt Aston Villa A Young.
Sent off: Aston Villa Makoun (70).
Man of the match Adam Match rating 6/10.
Possession Blackpool 50% Aston Villa 50%.
Attempts on target Blackpool 5 Aston Villa 4.
Referee H Webb (South Yorkshire) Att 16,000.
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