Blackpool manager Ian Holloway will head into 2011 determined to carry on enjoying himself. The promoted side have defied all pre-season predictions to more than make a good fist of life in the Premier League, and will end 2010 comfortably in the top half of the table, with 25 points already banked following Tuesday's 2-0 win at Sunderland.
That has given them the firmest of foundations upon which to build, and while it has come as no surprise to Holloway, he is full of admiration for his players. "I can't tell you how proud I am of them and I can't tell you how protective I am of them," he said yesterday. "It's nice for Blackpool to get recognition, it's nice for people to say nice things about me, but it isn't about that, I am not doing it for that. I am doing it to try to help them improve in their careers, and I can't ask for any more from any of them. That's what makes me proud, because you have to decide when you are out of work, 'Why am I doing it?' And I was doing it for the wrong reasons.
"I am now doing it for total enjoyment, to try to help my lads play better than they have ever played in their lives and encourage them because I needed that when I couldn't get a job. My wife gave me that and, God bless her, she was right. I nearly gave up and I am glad I haven't. Now, if it carries on and everybody gets the sack when they are 10th at this level, I might well pack it in because what's the point?
"If someone tells me that Ludovic Sylvestre isn't a good player and I shouldn't pick him ahead of Charlie Adam sometimes, I think that bloke should shut his face, because how the hell does he know who he is and how good he is? Watching him, he hardly gave the ball away, so he is an absolutely fantastic player in my opinion."
Blackpool survived a storm to win at the Stadium of Light. The Wearsiders mustered no fewer than 32 attempts on goal, 16 of them on target. By contrast, when chances came at the other end the visitors were clinical and D J Campbell – who was handed his first crack at the Premier League under the Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, during his spell at Birmingham – was not found wanting.
He volleyed home the opening goal with 52 minutes gone after Ian Evatt had flicked on Neil Eardley's cross as Sunderland slept at a corner, and then applied the finishing touch to substitute Matt Phillips' inviting 90th-minute cross to seal the win.
Holloway said: "We are two points behind them [Sunderland], which is fantastic. They are supposed to be having a good season, so what does that make us then? A bit lucky on today's stats, and let's get on with it."
Holloway will hope the new year will bring more of the same for his team, but it may prove a little more austere on a personal level. Asked if he will make a new year's resolution, he replied: "Yeah, I am going to lose some weight because I am chunking out. I have taken to doing some pretty dodgy things, pork pies and pickle are just too bad for me. I know they are in the fridge and I can't walk past the fridge."