It was a bare-faced cheek. Well, almost. At the final whistle in Blackpool's deep freezer of a home on Saturday Asamoah Gyan strode across to the celebrating army of Sunderland fans and threw them his shorts as well as his shirt, Francesco Totti style. Thankfully, the Ghanaian striker preserved his modesty, keeping his briefs to himself. "Let's just say Asa's a little bit different from everybody else," Steve Bruce, the Black Cats' manager, observed when asked about the antics of his £13m club record recruit.
Much the same has been said of Ian Holloway, as the Blackpool manager himself acknowledged in the aftermath of a contest that was always going to be viewed, Play School-style, through the frame of the January transfer window. "What I can't understand is people pitching in at that level," the Bristolian Woody Allen lamented, railing at the perceived bare-faced cheek of Liverpool's £4.5m offer for his midfield linchpin, Charlie Adam. "Do they think we're absolutely stupid, that I'm as madcap as all you people write about me sometimes?
"I find it insulting to me personally and particularly to Charlie. If Arsenal or anybody else wants to buy the lad at Southampton, Alex Chamberlain, they're asking £10m. So what does that make Charlie? £24m? I think my chairman's figure's £24m at the minute. If Darren Bent goes for that, my chairman's seen Charlie week in, week out and I don't know a player in the world who can hit passes like Charlie can."
"Who the fuck is Darren Bent?" the travelling hordes from Wearside enquired en masse after Kieran Richardson, pressed into emergency striking service to plug the gap left by Sunderland's erstwhile chief marksman, plundered each of the first-half goals that proved too much for a Blackpool side orchestrated by Adam's precise, probing passing. Bent is the Villan whose sudden mega-money move, out of the claret and blue, has left the transfer window all misted up.
If Bent is worth £18m, potentially rising to £24m, then what kind of a valuation do you put on Adam, who was plucked from the bargain shelf by Holloway for £500,000 from Rangers the summer before last? Or on Richardson, for that matter?
The sometime England international undid Blackpool's static defence with his pace and touch – on the quarter hour, when he latched on to a slide-rule ball from Gyan, and in the 36th minute, when he pounced on a pass from Steed Malbranque.
If nothing else, Richardson's razor-sharp striking form might buy Sunderland a bit of slack with those seeking to take advantage of their need for forward reinforcements, though it seems that Ricardo Fuller is poised to join them from Stoke, together with the former Portsmouth midfielder Sulley Muntari from Internazionale.
As for Adam, who converted a late penalty on Saturday, the smart money – if not yet the hard cash – is on him making the move to Anfield.
"The chairman could keep him for 18 months and let his contract run out but I like to think about the boy as well," Holloway said. "I'd like to think about a good club for him, and Liverpool at the minute, with Kenny Dalglish in there now, are settled and ready to move on.
"I mentioned them to Charlie as one of the teams I would have sold him to when he first signed for me and I'm a man of my word. But if they only rate him at that [£4.5m] I'm not selling him for that. I'm not stupid. Pay me the right amount of money and pay me the right amount of respect or just back away and stop wasting people's time, Mr Comolli."
As well as Liverpool's director of football, there was also a message for their new manager. "Well done, Ken," Holloway continued. "You've obviously still got it, son. But that's the sort of offer you were making 19 years ago, kid."