As a manager who jealously guards transfer funds as if they were his own, Steve Bruce needs little reminding that money can't buy you everything. At least that's the only conclusion that could be drawn as his £25m Sunderland strike force somehow managed to draw a blank, allowing a forward he knows well, and whose value is a pittance in comparison, to show his expensively assembled flops just how it should be done.
Having taken D J Campbell to Birmingham City four years ago, Bruce was au fait with the threat posed by Blackpool's record signing who, at a modest £1.25m, is worth less than a 10th of Asamoah Gyan. You wouldn't have known yesterday.
The shockingly out-of-touch Sunderland forward was, thankfully, put out of his misery midway through the second-half after spurning at least three good chances to put the hosts out of sight before Campbell stole in at the near post to volley home Ian Evatt's flick from Neil Eardley's cross as Sunderland were caught napping.
In fairness to Darren Bent, who matched his forward partner for profligacy, there was little wrong with a stunning late 25-yard free-kick which bounced off the underside of the bar.
Campbell sealed Blackpool's first win on Wearside for 52 years in the last minute, profiting from a searing run by the substitute Matt Phillips to slide in his fifth goal of the season a yard out to cap an annus mirabilis for their effervescent manager, whose side rose to eighth in the Preier League courtesy of a fifth away win of an increasingly remarkable season.
"I don't want this year to end," Ian Holloway admitted. "Unfortunately, in a couple of days it does. It's been an absolute belter and we've got a bit of a thing going, so if we can carry it on in 2011 I'll more than happy."
The new year will start with at least three of Bruce's squad nursing hamstring injuries, triggering an icy blast from the manager over the unnecessary strains the festive programme puts on players but there was just a whiff of sour grapes. "I've never been through a game like that," he said. "Maybe at school, perhaps, but not since. We had 32 shots and on another day we could have scored 10. I thought the law of averages would see us score because our forwards are usually so clinical but I got the feeling it was going to be one of those days."
Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Elmohamady, Onuoha (Bramble 32), Ferdinand, Bardsley; Henderson, Cattermole, Meyler (Richardson 58), Welbeck; Bent, Gyan (Malbranque 67). Substitutes not used Mignolet, Angeleri, Zenden, Riveros.
Booked Bramble, Meyler.
Blackpool (4-4-2): Kingson; Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Taylor-Fletcher (Carney 81), Sylvestre, (Southern 81),Vaughan, Grandin (Phillips 20); Campbell, Varney. Substitutes not used Halstead, Ormerod, Baptiste, Edwards.
Man of the match Campbell.
Referee A Marriner (West Midlands).
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