Holloway to 'quit' if he is fined for selection

Aston Villa 3 Blackpool 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway says he will resign if the Premier League fines the Lancashire club after he made 10 changes to his line-up at Villa Park, where a goal after 89 minutes denied his makeshift team a deserved point.

Wolverhampton Wanderers were given a suspended fine of £25,000 after fielding a weakened side against Manchester United last season after manager Mick McCarthy had decided that Wolves needed to prioritise other fixtures.

Premier League regulations insist that "in every league match each participating club shall field a full-strength team."

But Holloway railed at the suggestion that he had picked last night's line-up with Saturday's trip to struggling West Ham in mind, even though six of the side had not started a Premier League match this season.

"I picked a squad good enough to win this game," he said. "It is rude and disrespectful to those players and to West Ham [to suggest otherwise]. Let some person from the Premier League even try to tell me who I can pick.

"They're not doing that to me. Who is anybody to tell me who to pick in my team? I am the manager of Blackpool and I think I'm doing it rather well. I think it's insulting – to me, Aston Villa and to West Ham. I wanted to win this game and I want to win at West Ham on Saturday. How dare you presume Aston Villa are a safe bet to stay up and West Ham aren't?

"I'd like to see them try [to fine me]. I would resign. They do not know what they're talking about. I'd pack in, I can't work for this madness.

"Let them fine me. It's an absolute disgrace. It's not a weakened team. It's rubbish. Absolute nonsense.

"We're a credit to football. If I'm in trouble again I don't care. It's like a bloody circus."

Indeed, Holloway was all but vindicated in his decision to leave out 10 of the side who started the 2-2 draw against Everton, as Blackpool twice came from behind and looked to have extended Villa's poor recent run to six games without a win until James Collins headed the decisive goal a minute from the end.

Villa had gone ahead after 28 minutes when Stewart Downing's deflected shot beat Richard Kingson in the Blackpool goal. But the former Villa striker Marlon Harewood hit back in first-half stoppage time, slotting the ball past Brad Friedel after a clever backheeled pass by the excellent Matt Phillips, who cost Holloway £350,000 from Wycombe Wanderers.

Gerard Houllier's side rallied in the second half, going ahead again after an hour through 19-year-old Nathan Delfouneso's second Premier League goal, fired home with considerable composure after Ashley Young had sent him clear.

But Blackpool substitute D J Campbell seemed then to have spoiled Villa's night, equalising with three of the 90 minutes remaining after four Villa defenders could not stop him shooting after fellow substitute Charlie Adam gave him the ball at the edge of the box.

Defender Collins unwittingly sent Campbell's shot out of Friedel's reach with an attempted block, but then turned hero for the home side, heading home the winning goal from a Downing corner.

Houllier, whose side was missing half a dozen first-choice players through injury, said he was worried when he saw the Blackpool line-up.

"You know they will play as if they have nothing to lose," he said. "I did it [picked a weakened team] once with France and won. Then Sunderland did it against Liverpool and won.

"But you have to give credit to them. Ian Holloway is doing a great job and I hope they stay up."

Aston Villa (4-4-1-1): Friedel; L Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; Albrighton (Ireland, 81), Bannan, Clark, Downing; A Young; Delfouneso (Agbonlahor, 64). Substitutes not used Guzan (gk), Lowry, Hogg, Lichaj, Johnson.

Blackpool (4-5-1): Kingson; Basham, Keinan (Evatt, 75), Edwards, Carney; Phillips, Euell (Adam, 71), Southern, Sylvestre, Ormerod; Harewood (Campbell, 77). Substitutes not used Gilks (gk), Eardley, Grandin, Varney.

Referee A Taylor (Manchester).

Attendance 34,330.

Match Rating 7/10.

Man of the Match Ashley Young.