IAN Holloway accepted defeat to Sunderland with good grace at the weekend.
And perhaps mindful of the fact that he might be about to lose star player Charlie Adam in the January transfer window, the Blackpool manager was impressed with the way Sunderland coped with life after Darren Bent.
“Full credit to Sunderland,” he said. “In fairness to Steve Bruce, his lads were fantastic after losing an important player during the week.
“They showed great skill, great ability and they showed a great passion for their club and that’s what saw them through to the win.
“They might have been a bit fortunate with their first goal because we were going down like skittles in the game and their opening goal came when we were down to 10 men.
“It was a smash and grab stuff but, then, we did the same to them at their place.
“It’s ironic that we’ve created more chances at home and lost, yet at their place we created hardly any chances and won.
“But it was a pretty strange game overall with the way it went.
“We had an early substitution, which didn’t help.
“Then we lost our goalkeeper early in the second half, which again didn’t help.
“But we finished up by completely going for it, being positive, bringing strikers on and I though it was excellent game, very open, with the crowd brilliant.
“And in the end we only lost it by the odd goal.”
Holloway praised his players for fighting back from a two-goal deficit, with Sunderland threatening at times to blow them away in the first hour’s play.
“Sunderland were very good,” he acknowledged. “But in the second-half we went for it, my boys never stopped and we might even have nicked a point at the end.
“So, second-half, I’m bursting with pride. Sunderland looked good first-half, very tight, but second-half we threw everything but the kitchen sink at them and really went for it, unfortunately without quite being able to get that equaliser.”
Holloway will now spend this week trying to hang on to star man Adam, or accepting a bid which he insists must be in eight figures.
“I think people think I’m as mad as I’m made out to be sometimes!” he said.
“But if they think I’m accepting £3-4m for Charlie from Birmingham City, Aston Villa or Liverpool, they’ve got another think coming!
“There’s talk of the big boys offering £10m for some kid at Southampton and if he’s worth that sort of sum, then the bidding has to start there for Charlie.
“He’s as good a long-range passer as anyone in the Premier League and he’s got the lot.
“Liverpool are a good club with Kenny Dalglish in charge – they’re settled and that might be the ideal place for Charlie Adam – but the price will have to be right.
“They’ve got to be realistic.
“The offer of £4m from Kenny would have been a fair offer for Charlie if he’d made it for him when he was last in charge at Liverpool 20 years ago!”