The Seasiders set out to play the same style of football that has seen them light up the Premier League all season long. Their first intent was to attack, even after they had taken a 57th minute lead and that eventually lead to their undoing. Of course, the game could have panned out in a completely different way if Keith Southern had put his effort on target just 26 seconds into the game. Charlie Adam, who didn’t spot running for the entire game, broke into United’s area within seconds and found Southern a smart cut-back. Unfortunately, the chance fell to the midfielder too early and he struck it tamely off target.
Manchester United, to their credit, weren’t the lacklustre, disinterested side that had been suggested would turn up. More than a few of the starting line-up were obviously trying to give Sir Alex Ferguson a selection headache ahead of next week’s Champions League final. Darren Fletcher was busy and creative in equal measures; Rafael was rarely troubled and forced Jason Puncheon to play deeper than he would have liked and Nani’s hold-up play made a case for him to start instead of Antonio Valencia against Barcelona.
That meant United were not in the mood to gift the visitors with a result that would have kept them up. A ball over the top from Fletcher and a neat knock down by Dimitar Berbatov, allowed Park Ji-Sung to pressure Ian Evatt off the ball for the lead in the 21st minute. Blackpool refused to be perturbed and Adam struck a clever free-kick just before half-time to level matters.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Gary Taylor-Fletcher flicked in David Vaughan’s squared pass to give Holloway’s free-flowing side but instead of trying to hold their lead; they kept committing bodies forward. That left their numbers short at the back and it was no surprise to anyone that the scoring wasn’t finished.
Anderson produced a cool finish to even the scores before Evatt compounded a miserable personal performance by deflecting Chris Smalling’s cross into the goal. With results elsewhere going against them; Blackpool started to unravel. Michael Owen staked his claim to a place in the Champions League squad with a neat finish that condemned the Seasiders to their fate.
Luke Varney hit the bar with a header as Blackpool refused to give up even the unlikeliest of hopes. After the final whistle, the Old Trafford paid tribute to the Blackpool players and coaching staff as they left the pitch with a standing ovation but it was of little consolation. Blackpool’s time in the Premier League has ended after just one incredible season that has won them countless fans.