Quotable, eccentric yet intelligent, Ian Holloway’s managerial arrival in the Premier League was much anticipated after Blackpool’s play-off final win over Cardiff on a sundrenched May last year, and his charm has transcended to his squad of unknowns.
No player at Blackpool earns more than £10,000 per week, Bloomfield Road possesses no under soil heating and their five-in-attack approach is a throwback to the daft yet adventurous formations once printed in programmes. They’re arguably the sole beacon revered by traditionalists who remember when football was football.
But much to Holloway’s disdain, Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish have come in to upset the apple cart by tabling a ‘derisory’ £4.5m bid for the Tangerines’ lynchpin Charlie Adam. Adam understandably wishes to seek pastures new down the East Lancs Road in what would be a swift and stratospheric rise from a Scottish football reject to one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Without a hint of irony, Blackpool’s chairman Karl Oyston criticised Liverpool for ‘scuttling off to the press’, failing to acknowledge that Holloway candidly informed Her Majesty’s Press that Aston Villa and Birmingham City complemented the triumvirate of clubs who had an offer rejected for Adam.
His manager had previously conjured up one of his feeblest pieces of verbal improvisation when he declared: ‘If Charlie is only worth £4m then I’m a Scotsman called McTavish. It is insulting.’ He then advised potential suitors that £14m was a more realistic fee. In reality, £8m should be sufficient.
Reverence for Adam has become a genuine labour of love for Holloway. He admits the Scot deserves to be playing at a higher level, even serenading him with You’ll Never Walk Alone in training earlier this week. And last night the Blackpool manager lauded Adam’s Bloomfield Road legacy.
‘Give me a hammer and a penknife and I will start building the statue myself!’
But a thick veil has been lifted off of the cultured playmaker, with one notable quote re-emanating from Holloway stating: ‘He (Adam) really believes in himself and his ability. If he was a chocolate bar, he’d be licking himself.’ That was prior to Adam signing a permanent deal following a successful loan period with the club.
What should only irk Blackpool supporters is Adam’s badge-kissing and cheerleading following his penalty against Sunderland at the weekend. Purported loyalty obliterated less than 48 hours later via his transfer request.
Liverpool followers’ reticence over the prospect of him bearing the Liver bird is also testament to the uncertainty that he can cut it in a squad that’s been eventually boosted by the return of Dalglish. Adam may yet yield to the infamous second season syndrome.
Though last night Adam prompted lyrical waxing during a scintillating first half against Manchester United, it was an excessive instance of his quality being magnified whilst under the microscope. But as his transfer saga draws to an inevitable conclusion towards a winter window exit, his manager’s eccentricities – hitherto a welcome distraction for his players – must be curbed.
Following his unfeasible financial forecast, Holloway chastised Gérard Houllier for confirming that he had bid for Adam in an attack that mirrored the near-xenophobic scrutinising of Fabio Capello. The month-long window for transfers has hampered Blackpool’s momentum (despite completing the double over Liverpool) to such an extent that the remaining 12 points required to attain the magical 40 point mark are no longer a formality.
Now that they’re haggling over Adam’s worth, Oyster and Holloway would best be advised to recall the then-Everton player Joleon Lescott’s uncertainty as Manchester City courted him. David Moyes haggled for an extortionate £24m, yet had played the unsettled Lescott against a nebulous background in their opening day 6-1 embarrassment at home to Arsenal. Endangering team morale contributed to the Toffees taking a paltry 12 points from a possible 30.
Last night the Blackpool manager lauded Adam’s Bloomfield Road legacy, saying: ‘Give me a hammer and a penknife and I will start building the statue myself!’. Holloway doesn’t possess the self-congratulatory ego of Phil Brown to eradicate his players’ confidence, he’s too humble and avuncular a man-manager to slide into the vat of Premier League narcissism. Yet he’s at risk of dismantling the feel-good factor on Seasiders Way by painting his squad as a one-man side.