The last time Blackpool beat Manchester United in a league match was Jan. 13, 1962, when the Seasiders managed a 1–0 triumph at Old Trafford. Going in at halftime two goals to the good in Tuesday’s Premier League encounter, manager Ian Holloway and his lads must have thought they were about to make their own piece of history.
But you have to play for the full 90 minutes plus stoppage time to beat United. The home side and their passionate supporters were stunned by three second-half goals that gave the team from Manchester all three points, taking them five points clear of Arsenal at the head of the table with their 3–2 win.
“We just never give in,” Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.
Manchester United remained unbeaten through 23 games with 14 wins and 9 draws. They have only dropped two points in 12 games at home but on the road they have three wins and eight draws.
Difficult away fixtures remaining for United are trips to Arsenal and Liverpool; two matches remain to be played against Chelsea.
United Come Out Flat
On a muddy Bloomfield Road pitch that was not dissimilar to those that were the norm in Blackpool’s halcyon days of the 1950s, the tangerines went about their business with relish and United were frankly all over the place.
United old-boy Craig Cathcart took full advantage of non-existent marking to head home a Charlie Adams corner with a quarter of an hour gone. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson must have been close to a heart attack watching his team being totally overrun by a tangerine tide orchestrated by their impressive and in-demand skipper Charlie Adams.
It was no more than Blackpool deserved when they went further ahead two minutes before the break. Another Adams corner found the United defense wanting as Darron Gibson succeeded only in heading on to DJ Campbell rather than effecting the required clearance. Campbell did the rest and Blackpool was two up.
Sir Alex’s verdict on his team’s first half performance was predictably scathing. “We were battered. We were terrible,” he told www.manutd.com.
Gibson was no doubt grateful to have been given a rare start but had been asked to fill an unfamiliar role on the left side of midfield where he appeared decidedly uncomfortable. Consequently Ryan Giggs was brought on to replace the young Irishman in that role for the second half.
The 37 year-old veteran is currently enjoying an Indian summer and it was he who turned the tide in United’s favor. Thanks to some good saves from Richard Kingson, Blackpool held out until the 72nd minute. Nani finally overcame the wretched playing surface, evading several loose divots of turf before splitting the Blackpool defense and laying off a perfect ball to Fletcher who crossed for Berbatov to slot the ball home.
One felt that if United could pull one back then Blackpool might crumble and so it proved. Javier Hernandez had replaced Wayne Rooney and already just lost out in a one on one with Richard Kingson. But this time when Giggs played him clean through on 74 minutes “Chicharito” made no mistake.
At 88 minutes, the seemingly inevitable happened as the Blackpool defense left a huge space on the right-hand side for Berbatov to glide into and the Bulgarian marksman finished cool as you like. That’s two more goals for the Bulgarian to add to his three from Saturday.
There was a full 10 minutes of stoppage time due to treatment administered to Rafael following a nasty, but purely accidental, clash of heads. The young Brazilian was stretchered off and subsequently taken to the hospital.
United know how to wind down the clock and although Blackpool managed several forays forward in search of an equalizer, it was not to be.
Everyone associated with Blackpool FC was understandably bitterly disappointed. Gary Taylor Fletcher told the club website, “We need to sort out our shape under pressure sometimes, we’ve got the will to keep fighting and running but it’s important that we don’t lose our formation and get dragged out of position.”
If they can put in similar performances on a regular basis, that should be enough to keep the Seasiders in the top flight for another season.
However, if they receive an offer for Charlie Adam that they cannot refuse, then without him their survival in the Premier League may well be in question.