DEVASTATED Blackpool manager Ian Holloway turned his anger on Premier League chiefs after his side slipped out of the top flight on a final day riddled with twists.
With half an hour left the Tangerines were on course for a memorable escape and a shock win at champions Manchester United, but a 4-2 loss ultimately doomed them, meaning they joined Birmingham, who lost 2-1 at Tottenham, and already-condemned West Ham in dropping into the Championship.
The day’s big winners were Wigan, who climbed clear of the bottom three in the nick of time with a 1-0 win at Stoke, and Wolves, who survived despite being beaten 3-2 at home by Blackburn.
Blackpool came from behind to lead 2-1, through Charlie Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, only for Anderson to equalise and defender Ian Evatt to score an agonising own goal before Michael Owen sealed the result. And Holloway wasted little time in blasting the Premier League, with whom he has clashed this month over contract rules.
“The fat lady has finished singing and I don’t like the tune,” he said. “The Premier League have rung me up and said ‘We really love you Ian Holloway’. But they have never helped me. It is a great league. But the people who run it shouldn’t.”
Their defeat left one more relegation space to fill, and Wolves were favourites for it until three minutes from time, when a Stephen Hunt goal brought them back to within a goal of Blackburn and meant Birmingham would drop down on goals scored.
Moments later, Roman Pavlyuchenko’s second of the afternoon earned Spurs victory and erased any hope of a Birmingham escape, although Blues manager Alex McLeish vowed to lead them straight back up. “They’re my lads,” said McLeish. “I built the squad and it’s a low for me in my career but it’s not a fail. I will bounce back.”
Wolves had looked in trouble when trailing 3-0 at half-time and manager Mick McCarthy admitted to being “shattered physically and emotionally” after their dramatic escape. “I went through the wringer,” he added.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, compared survival to silverware after Hugo Rodallega’s 78th-minute header steered them clear of danger. “It’s like winning a trophy – that’s the way I feel,” said Martinez.
KEY MOMENTS | SURVIVAL SUNDAY
45 mins: Hoilett puts Blackburn 3-0 up at Wolves, sealing his side’s safety.
57 mins: Blackpool move clear of the drop zone as Taylor-Fletcher puts them 2-1 up at United.
74 mins: A horrible own goal from Evatt alters the picture for Blackpool who trail 3-2.
78 mins: A far post header from Rodallega catapults Wigan to safety with time running out.
90 mins: Birmingham were hunting a much-needed goal when Pavlyuchenko sunk them.