Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, said yesterday that the Premier League, run by people from "the Planet Zarf", will be "relieved" to see his side relegated as he reacted angrily to the idea that Sunday's opponents Manchester United could be fined if Blackpool beat them.
With United's 19th title safely confirmed, it would only be natural for the focus of Sir Alex Ferguson's side to switch to the impending Champions League final against Barcelona. However, before that, domestic duties have to be fulfilled and that has prompted suggestions that Ferguson will pick a weakened side for the visit of Blackpool, who need a victory and potentially a helping hand elsewhere if they are to avoid relegation.
"They [the Premier League] will be relieved if we lose and get relegated," he said. "Then I [will not be] badgering them. I am so annoyed. Sir Alex Ferguson is a winner. That man deserves to pick whatever team he wants to pick. No one should question it.
"Look at his record. Those people running the game, what planet are they on? They must have beamed down from Planet Zarf. They think we can only beat Manchester United if they are weak. What a load of baloney. Already, they are saying Blackpool can't beat them. I am glad I don't go to work thinking that, otherwise I would never have got promoted last year."
Blackpool were themselves fined £25,000 for fielding a weakened team against Aston Villa in November. If Ferguson picks a more inexperienced side than he usually would, that is likely to prompt the League to request an explanation, yet Holloway feels offended by the notion that the United manager should be questioned. The steely attitude he displayed yesterday was at odds with his usually relaxed persona, even though he maintains that the pressure ahead of Sunday's contest is no more than usual.
He continued: "Ask Schalke [who United beat 6-1 on aggregate in the Champions League] if they think Manchester United have a weak team. On Sunday, we have to try and do the impossible. It's got to be perfect. No one else has beaten them [at Old Trafford]. And if we do, they might get fined because we are rubbish. The suggestion is that they should always beat us, because we're supposed to be crap. Don't try telling me that."
As preparations go for the biggest game in the club's history – certainly on a financial basis – Blackpool's week could certainly have gone better. Holloway has had to spend time sorting out the contracts of those players who could potentially leave this summer because the options as to whether the club want to extend their deals effectively expire today. That means he has been trying to haggle some players into staying while informing others that their services are no longer required. "It is slightly demotivating," he said. "I guess this weekend will see if I am any good as a motivator. I have had to tell seven of my players that we will be releasing them. So amongst all this wonderful euphoria we had from beating Bolton, we have had to tell certain players they no longer have a contract or that we've taken up options that will see their wages cut."
Stephen Crainey, Matthew Gilks and David Vaughan have rejected their initial offers as they wait to see what happens on Sunday. Ian Evatt and Keith Southern have new deals while Brett Ormerod is still negotiating his. Goalkeeper Richard Kingson, Gilks' understudy, is thought to be one player who is leaving although Holloway is determined to ensure that those departing will do so with Blackpool still a Premier League team.
"It'd be more than just a dream come true," Holloway added. "I think we deserve it and I think we deserve a crack at trying to do the impossible. I wouldn't pick any other game or team, I want this one because I believe it's set up for us to have a tremendous day."
Holloway's best lines
"I love Blackpool. We're very similar. We both look better in the dark."
When asked how he was settling in as manager, September 2009
"The chairman will need a hell of a tub of cream to get rid of me – I'm like a bad rash and not easily curable."
Dismissing reports linking him with Burnley job, January 2010
"In the first half we were like the Dog and Duck, the second half like Real Mad-rid. I was like an irritated Jack Russell."
After draw with Crystal Palace, March 2010
"I might be in a Skoda garage rather than a Mercedes, but some old bangers don't half polish up great."
After 6-0 defeat at Arsenal, August 2010
Five reasons the league should want to keep Blackpool
Wigan Athletic 0-4 Blackpool
14 August 2010
In a game switched to the DW Stadium as the new stand at Bloomfield Road was not finished, Blackpool announced their intention to tackle the Premier League head on with an emphatic opening-day victory. Gary Taylor-Fletcher's goal and two from Marlon Harewood handed them a 3-0 advantage at half-time before Alex Baptiste completed the rout.
Blackpool 2-3 Manchester United
25 January 2011
A stunning first-half performance at Bloomfield Road saw the former United defender Craig Cathcart and DJ Campbell put the home side two ahead. Two goals in three minutes from Dimitar Berbatov and substitute Javier Hernandez had United level before Berbatov's second completed a magnificent comeback by the visitors.
Everton 5-3 Blackpool
5 February 2011
A three-pronged strikeforce showed Blackpool's attacking gameplan as goals from Baptiste, Adam and Jason Puncheon put them 3-2 ahead. Four from Louis Saha helped Everton recover, although the visitors won much praise even in defeat.
Liverpool 1-2 Blackpool
3 October 2010
A Charlie Adam penalty and Luke Varney's fierce drive produced one of the shock results of the season. Blackpool led 2-0 at half-time and the home side could muster only a Sotirios Kyrgiakos header in reply after the break. A first win at Anfield in 44 years left them a point from a European place and they completed the double over Liverpool in January.
Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers
14 May 2011
Typifying their attacking approach evident all season, two goals from Campbell, and others by Adam and Puncheon beat Bolton in a thrilling derby, nearly 60 years on from the FA Cup final of the same result.
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